Activision Blizzard, a company of more than 9,000 employees who’ve built some of the world’s most popular games, is a few things. They are a company who bragged about having a “record year,” on an earnings call this afternoon, a quarter where only raking in $2.4 billion in revenue was considered a disappointment. They are a company who granted a $15 million signing bonus and a $900,000 salary to a high-ranking executive who joined last month. And they are a company who just laid off around 800 employees, or 8% (!!!) of its total workers.
800 people will be without jobs at the end of the day. 800 people head into an uncertain future, wondering how long their severance and health insurance will get them before the next job.
After a recent earnings report announced record revenue, Activision-Blizzard initiated layoffs by handing out boxes to its 9,600 employees that had 8.3% odds of containing employment termination paperwork.
“A lot of companies might just hand out pink slips to a select few, but our ‘layoff boxes’ allow every employee to be part of the overall firing experience,” said Blizzard human resources manager Clint Bullock. “Our employees have all worked hard to make our company so successful over the past few years, so it’s only fair that everybody have an equal chance of having their lives totally upended while we keep making huge profits off their creations.”
Unionization in today’s companies and employee-ownership of new businesses would help prevent mass layoffs.
The remastered version of StarCraft has updated graphics, resolutions, cloud saves, and multiplayer features with leaderboards and matchmaking from Blizzard’s modern online services. You can also just get the regular un-remastered version for free at this link, which plays just fine on modern desktop operating systems.
What I really want to know is: When are they remastering Warcraft 2?
It’s a sentiment I completely agree with, and I’ll slightly disclaim my discussion of this game by noting that a good friend works at Activision. When I first tried HOTS a few years ago it was clear that they had made changes to make the DOTA-style of gameplay more palatable, but it didn’t click with me until the 2 year-anniversary updates. Yes, I was another Overwatch player who initially went back to HOTS for the skins, but stuck around for the gameplay.
Now I play it a few times a week, and it’s great to not have to worry about last-hitting and other stuff I didn’t care to grasp from more traditional MOBAs like having to come up with an item build for each game and map and situation. Maybe that’s something that hardcore DOTA players miss, they can stick to DOTA so I don’t have to hear them whining on team chat.
There’s also this part of the interview:
One of McGeathy’s favorite moments was when a high-level player told him about their experience with Zarya. “They said, ‘I never really enjoyed Zarya in Overwatch until I played her in Heroes of the Storm and I figured her out.’ So that’s a special case. Just in general we’re always looking for new and unique ways for heroes to work.”
I don’t play much Overwatch so I never understood the use of D.Va’s defense matrix ability except as a blunt shield. It took Heroes of the Storm for me to understand that her Defense Matrix actually powers up her self-destruct ability faster. Duh.
The only big criticism I have about HOTS is that while it is available (free to play) on macOS and Windows Blizzard hasn’t chosen this opportunity to bring the game to Linux yet. It’s an obvious next-step that is baffling to me at this point.
Blizzard is working on a remastered version of their sci-fi RTS progenitor, Starcraft and the expansion beloved for competitive multiplayer, Brood War, but first they’ve gone and made the original versions of the games free as their patch notes for version 1.18 of the almost 20 year old game spell out. Those patch notes also contain links to download the game for Windows and macOS.
The remastered versions of Starcraft and Brood War are planned to be released this summer. When they are, they’ll support widescreen modern resolutions, cloud saves for the campaign, and other modern goodies from Blizzard’s gaming network that was once called Battle.net but is now just called Blizzard. The Starcraft website has more information on what’s coming in that remaster and screenshots of what it’ll look like.