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Blizzard’s end of year roundup pledges greater culture change

Mike Ybarra’s end of year roundup pledged more culture change from Blizzard and a ‘player first’ approach
Blizzard’s end of year roundup pledges greater culture change

As the year came to a close we saw many companies making closing statements, reiterating what they had done to improve their standing and steps that they had taken to improve both their business and player experience alike. Activision-Blizzard, still embroiled in the ongoing acquisition saga and recovering from a myriad of allegations around toxic company culture, is one such company.

President of Blizzard, Mike Ybarra, uploaded a roundup post at the end of the year to address players and fans alike about the steps forward in correcting Blizzard’s company culture and their achievements thus far.

In the post, Ybarra points to numerous steps forwards in terms of DE&I (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) “We’ve also made solid progress advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I): we held a successful fourth Women's Summit, we deployed DE&I-focused training across all employees, we’ve expanded self-identification options to be more inclusive, and over the past year, we increased the percentage representation of women and non-binary people within Blizzard from 22% to 25% while also increasing the percentage of employees from under-represented ethnic groups from 34% to 36%.”

Weathering the Storm

Although Blizzard makes up only one third of the Activision-Blizzard (and unspoken third element, King) group, they’re arguably the one with the most loyal fanbase. With landmark games such as World of Warcraft, Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo and Overwatch under their belt, and their very successful mobile spin-off Diablo Immortal seeing major success, Blizzard long stood as a fan-favourite.

However, as you’re likely aware a myriad of allegations in recent years about toxic company culture, sexual harassment and more severely damaged the company’s reputation. It’s no surprise then that Ybarra wants to point to the steps that the company has been taking to repair their culture. Although Blizzard is unlikely to ever return to being the untouchable sacred icon of gaming it once was, being able to attract and retain talent will be important as well.

Although his coverage of their business achievements is more brief, it’s also interesting to see that both Diablo Immortal and the upcoming Warcraft: Arclight Rumble, two major mobile titles from the studio, are getting prominent placement. As posts like this are meant to be speaking to a business as well as a player audience then, it shows the success and potential success of these titles is high on Blizzard’s list to promote too.

However, with the acquisition of Activision-Blizzard still somewhat shaky, there may still be some concern within the company about what the acquisition by Microsoft will hold if it indeed does succeed.