Despite new record earnings, a well-running WoW expansion and promising upcoming projects such as Diablo 4, Blizzard is bubbling with excitement within the company. Only the implementation of the Stack ranking system for long-term employee resignationsthen employees recently received the news that the Home office regulation ends in July 2023.
The end of this regulation puts some employees in financial difficulties. In a recent meeting, the boardroom announced that the Bonus payments to employees will only amount to 58 percent despite the record quarter (Q4 2022).. As if that weren’t enough, during the meeting, employees had to listen to quips from Blizzard CEO Mike Ybarra that cast a different light on the previously popular Ybarra.
Ybarra’s first crisis as Blizzard President
In the meeting, managers answered canned questions from employees, including about the widely criticized stack ranking system and why, despite record profits, employees are no longer receiving a full share of bonus payments. According to information from gamedeveloper.com Mike Yabarra is said to have said the following based on statements by employees present at the meeting: “If you think executives make a lot of money and you don’t, you’re living a myth.”
While the CEO’s salary is likely to be significantly higher than that of a QA employee, technically Ybarra isn’t wrong, since the 58% cut in bonus payments also hits the executive floor.
Blizzard’s QA department in turmoil
QA employees in particular are dependent on these bonus payments at Blizzard. An analyst or QA employee at Blizzard makes around $22 an hour (about $45,000 a year). You can live on that in the USA, but in states like California, where the cost of living is more than twice the average in the rest of the USA, you may be living below the subsistence level. This is precisely why employees have so far been so satisfied with being able to work from home in other countries, which is sometimes no longer possible from July. Then employees have to appear in the office three days a week.
A source speaking to gamedeveloper.com said an internal Slack channel from the QA team exploded in response to Ybarra’s comment. The questions and answers were presented by managers via Zoom, where Blizzard management had turned off the ability to chat during the call. Apparently, the staff could only respond to Ybarra’s responses with emoji responses.
“If you are not happy, you can go”
Ybarra has reportedly not provided any clear plans for talent whereabouts, although it appears elsewhere that Blizzard would open offices in new (undisclosed) locations to act as central hubs and potentially reduce hiring costs for employees in California.
Regarding the high cost of living, Ybarra is said to have said bluntly in the meeting that people can leave if the job at Blizzard doesn’t fit into their life plans. “At the end of the day, we want people to be happy, and when decisions about being happy don’t align with what we intend to do and you’re not happy, then you have to do what makes you happy,” Ybarra said have said.
Sources the people at gamedeveloper spoke to independently said they interpreted that comment to mean that employees who disagree with the return policy should leave the company. A spokesman for Activision Blizzard confirmed the accuracy of the comment, adding only that Ybarra said the company would “listen to the team’s feedback” and balance it with “what’s best for the company and serves the players in the long term. “
Blizzard’s “Brain Drain” is taking shape
Ybarra is also said to have said in the meeting regarding the precarious situation for QA employees that employees are offered many opportunities to advance in other areas of the company if they are not satisfied with their current position. Anyone planning a long-term career in QA seems to have bad cards with Blizzard.
For some, the name “Blizzard” still stands for prestige. However, the Californian games company has not read a CV as well as it did a few years ago. The end of the home office, no chance for advancement and cuts in bonus payments during a record quarter could mean that Blizzard loses its talents to other companies like Riot, which continue to rely on remote work, not only in the QA area.
Source | gamedeveloper.com