An IGN reported uploaded on 22nd May has revealed that developers are leaving Blizzard rather regularly. The report, which is rather lengthy but very worth reading, dives into the reasons behind these departures. Last month Blizzard legend Jeff Kaplan revealed he was parting ways with the studio. While it was a shock, IGN reports that these issues have been brewing since 2018.
There are many quotes from developers at Blizzard, listing their views on the matter. One anonymous developer told Kat Bailey, the author of the report, that “I feel like I get a going away email every day from people I know. Like, it feels like people are leaving constantly now”. And that certainly seems to be the case, with the report stating ex-Blizzard employees have gone on to launch five separate studios in the past few years.
So why are developers leaving? The answer can be boiled down to two main reasons: burnout and a lack of video game releases. Burnout is something that is becoming increasingly discussed more openly. Working on the same title for an extensive period of time, or working intensely for a few years, are bound to cause staff to leave.
The video game industry is brutal in its treatment of developers. After all, crunch is a disappointingly accepted part of the industry. But at the report states, staff at Blizzard can work on one game for almost a decade. So it’s natural that developers may desire a change of pace. There is also the issue of a severe lack of releases from Blizzard.
Overwatch was their last major release and, while it was a massive release, that was just over 5 years ago. And even though Overwatch 2 is in the works, the general mood at Blizzard seems to be that not enough games are being made. Bailey reports that Chris Metzen, a Blizzard veteran, said in a 2016 documentary;
“What are we really doing? Are we just selling product for a corporation? I guess that’s a part of it, but we’re artists and craftsmen and technologists and writers and poets and all these other things coming together to build something greater than any of us could have ever achieved on our own”Chris Metzen, Blizzard Veteran
All of this being said, the report from Bailey is very much worth reading. It goes into far greater detail and gives an incredible insight into the mindset of those at Blizzard. But the future does seem somewhat uncertain for Blizzard. For many years now they have been seemingly riding off their notoriety. People love the company for what they have done for gaming, but is that going to be enough to keep Blizzard afloat? With morale low, and developers leaving regularly, do you think this is the beginning of the end for Blizzard? Let us know in the comments below!