Leaked Blizzard Culture and Direction

Thread for discussing: (alleged) leak/rant from Blizzard insider about company culture and direction. (edit: fyi you have to click the pic or thread title on reddit to read it. or here’s a direct link to the leak). Lots of interesting stuff in the leak, including about upper management burying their head in the sand for years, ignoring problems, and not really believing that anything very bad could ever happen. It’s not intuitive to me that people ignore extremely foreseeable problems, often with many people warning about the problem in words and explaining it for years, and then just run straight into disaster, and they have no plan, they just plain fail, and that’s it. There was no 3d chess, they were just dumb and didn’t listen and then failed, the end, and they walked into that failure that was so avoidable. But the world is full of that, both in people’s individual lives and as leadership of large companies or governments.

Commentary from Grummz (reasonable tweet thread)

Commentary from guy who posted leak on reddit (40min video; haven’t watched yet but going to try it)

Is it real? Doesn’t matter too much. As the top reddit comment says, even if it’s made up, it’s like 90% true anyway.

There are some insider references thrown in. You can ask questions if you want to understand them. I knew what most of them meant. E.g. Holisky is the guy who flamed Asmongold on Twitter recently. See e.g. Asmongold asks fans to stop harassing WoW dev who bashed him (some random article that showed up on web search; read the title and think again about what DD has been doing to me, and refusing to ask of his fans. also btw the dev did more than bash Asmongold – he signal boosted a call to severely harass Asmongold. btw Asmongold has been severely harassed in Final Fantasy but that game has some actual human beings working at the company taking actions to help stop the harassment, in contrast to Blizzard which seems to really want to minimize customer service so much that even large online influencers get ignored).

Multiple people’s reaction to the leaks is to bury their head in the sand and think it’s totally unrealistic and made up (no specifics about which parts don’t make sense or why).

Multiple people’s reactions is to reject it because of the source: the leak was put on 4chan or some other similar imageboard. So people call that a Nazi site or a site not to trust. Where do you expect a leak to be put? He doesn’t want to get caught or doxxed, and he doesn’t want some moderator to just delete it. Of course it’s going to go in the same kind of place that persecuted people go when they don’t want to be banned, doxxed, censored, etc. That doesn’t discredit it. And it’s largely non-political.

The stuff about streamers made sense. I knew Asmon tried FFXIV. And I heard him mention he got big views – more than expected. But I didn’t know that had brought in a horde of copycat streamers who also want big views. That makes total sense though. (I rarely watch Twitch directly anymore. Mostly see it via YouTube highlight videos. Was not following what other streamers were doing or watching any FFXIV outside a few highlights to get the general idea.)

It makes sense about FFXIV being old enough to be a decent game but newer than WoW so it looks nicer, and it hadn’t been ruined by being the market leader for so long and has been actually trying to compete on gameplay. I see it came out in 2013, so it’s around 8 years old vs. around 17 for WoW. That makes sense to me because new games are generally awful.

It makes sense to me what the leaker says about FFXIV being in the right place at the right time. They didn’t put out some new stuff and bring a lot of people over. They were probably a better game than retail WoW for the last few years. People are moving now cuz they’re mad at WoW, not particularly cuz of something FFXIV did right.

Why are new games so bad lately? Because of microtransactions, pay2win, trying to exploit heavy spenders (“whales”), non-gamer MBA-type executives taking over, etc. Designing money traps is different than good games. There are design conflicts. That all makes sense and I’ve seen similar ideas elsewhere.

Some things it doesn’t talk about is that a larger more mainstream gaming audience means more bad players so games have to be dumbed down to prevent them from getting frustrated. Mobile gaming is way more casual (easy, bad player oriented, low skill, etc.). Most female gamers are really casual.

The stuff about how out of touch the ad people are, and they don’t even watch Twitch, was interesting. Makes sense.

BTW, I suspect TV ratings are badly wrong in a massive scale and TV ads are hugely overpriced and the whole industry is kinda incompetent. Why? Because they extrapolate viewership from a few bad, small datasets like Nielson ratings. Those datasets are just wrong and I think billions and billions of dollars are being misallocated. YouTube and Twitch are underspent on and spent on in bad ways by people who don’t understand the platforms and audiences.

I’m serious about billions of ad spend being done wrong. They get TV ratings and radio and stuff from small samples that are not representative and then the people doing it cheat heavily due to incentives (e.g. leave TV on with device near it attached to a fan so it keeps moving and “watching” – and they’ll do that for their whole family at once b/c they’re trying to get paid more money). A bunch of (relatively) good TV shows have been cancelled in part due to the TV ratings being so bad and inaccurate – those cancellations is another piece of evidence about the ratings being wrong.

BTW if your TV show is popular but you get paid based on ad prices based on the inaccurate ratings, then it makes sense in a way to cancel it for low ratings – even if you know the ratings are wrong – b/c you aren’t actually getting paid in relation to how many people watch it.

Leaker says the newer, younger hires at Blizz are all kinda woke, hate Asmon for his anti-sjw stuff and saying “big dick” a lot (and for criticizing poor game design choices – a lot of streamers are suck ups who want to get invited to events, get stuff to give away in promos, get interviews with Blizz employees, etc, but Asmon gets snubbed for all that despite being a bigger streamer b/c he criticizes Blizz).

Asmon has common sense. He’s no genius, but he knows that. He broadly avoids overreaching. His takes on issues are generally reasonable, and he sometimes says he doesn’t know and he tries to stick to issues where he can make reasonable comments.

Leaker says people who have been at Blizz longer tend to like Asmon, but a lot of those people gave up and left the company, including some of the top execs who were around from the early days, and recently Kaplan (overwatch lead who started working on WoW after playing some other MMO as a player) left.

Makes sense. Sad. A lot of companies are having similar issues. 37 Signals is lefty but the older people in charge apparently don’t want to be that super left when it’s hurting the business a lot. They changed policies a few months back, e.g. telling people to stop being political at work, and a third of their employees quit(!). I think Blizz is clearly going the other way: it’s going to be taken over instead of changing course and getting rid of the most woke third of the company. A lot of the non/less-wokes have been leaving. If the news had been that DHH and Fried had left 37 Signals, then the company probably never would have been cleaned up – would have been fully taken over instead (as e.g. is happening with Google, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit. Not sure about Apple, Microsoft or Amazon.).

The takeover isn’t a full guarantee. It’s still run by greedy (in the bad, dumb sense) execs who might one day pick a fight with their workers. But they are idiots with no vision who don’t understand concepts and principles, so they’d probably have like 80% of their company be taken over first, and then probably just ignore problems, go out of business, and get bought by some other investors in a firesale and then those people fire 90% of the employees and salvage something, and it could maybe get cleaned up that way…

Sucks but I think leaker is right that Blizz is gonna be copying King (candy crush maker, also owned by Activision) more than copying actual better game design from Square’s FFXIV.

It’s disturbing that all the metrics are down for Blizz except revenue. Getting more money out of whales makes up for losing a lot of players. Things would change more/better/faster if revenue looked worse for Blizz.

All the stuff about too big to fail, ignoring years of complaints from players, etc. is interesting to me. People warn them, and they don’t listen. Partly they think the warnings are weakness. If they’re complaining, they still care. True. But not forever. Eventually after some years of complaints being ignored, then the good will goes away and more and more people leave.

I heard recently that 80% of divorces are initiated by women and that the men feel blindsided. Didn’t check the source or see what countries the data is from (might only be US or first world or something). Anyway, a lot of women complain for years, and husband ignores, doesn’t change, and then is surprised to be eventually divorced.

I myself have had issues with complaining about things, warning about problems, and being ignored. It’s a common experience in all sorts of contexts.

It’s hard to say “no seriously this is not OK” to people who hear “i still care and just want my voice to be heard a bit more – i just want a bit bigger seat at the table, a bit more power, but obv i’ll stick around even if i don’t get it since i’m investing in social climbing here, this is where i want power and influence”. People take attention and attempts at problem solving as weakness and a sign that it’s safe to walk all over you. They look at the social dynamics instead of the logical meaning.

Ad people not even watching streamers makes sense in a way but also jfc wtf. Damn 9-5ers who don’t care about their job, suck at it, etc. No caring about their craft, trying to be actually good at it, etc.

I have seen very few ads for a long time. A lot of the ads I see are sponsored YouTube videos. I usually skip those but see the first few seconds of the sponsorship before I hit a button. So I know some of the repetitive common ones from the YT channels I watch (btw there’s significant overlap in sponsors not just in gaming niche but with other stuff china vids too). There’s raid shadow legends and sometimes some other games (generally shitty mobile games). Raid is an awful pay2win game and a meme that i’m not at all tempted to try. And there’s keeps for men hair loss thing, ridge wallet, nord vpn, and i think at least one other vpn too. That’s about how much advertising has been getting to me.

I find out about new games when asmon does commentary on some youtuber/streamer reviewing a new game. Or when I see e3 happened because asmon streamed it. (I generally consider asmon’s commentary better than nothing, and also i don’t put much effort into finding gamer stuff – except speedrunning, a game i’m currently playing, or a game i played in the past and still like – so i appreciate him finding it. it’s kinda like using Pandora instead of finding music myself.). Most people who are actually good at games know how to use things like adblockers, and those are the people who overall have a lot of influence. Lots of trends are downstream of the good players.

Some indy devs have figured this out and love streamers/YTers. Not all though. The Duet makers basically ignored me when I was giving them free bug reports, was one of the best players, and was one of the only people with some blog posts and videos related to their game. On the other hand, the Ashes lead designer (who is also the rich guy funding it cuz he likes games esp MMOs) got on a call with Asmon from his car (IIRC) when the opportunity came up months ago – like he cared enough to talk to Asmon asap when he got a chance even though it was a bad time for him – and he was enabling Asmon to beta test and stream Ashes the other day (e.g. based on what Asmon said, i think he personally gave asmon 10 million gold and was watching Asmon’s stream and writing a few comments in giant letters with some kinda global or targeted announcement feature that a game master can use).

It’s amazing to me how blind the WoW execs could be when the only narrative I’ve heard over and over, year after year, is basically that WoW has been going downhill since cataclysm (which came out in 2009). Subscriber numbers peaked around then IIRC and WoW has been on a slow bleed since and has lost like over half of its peak playerbase. So how could you possibly freak out about the failure of Shadowlands and think things were fine until now? How could you not have already been in emergency “we gotta fix this” mode for at least 5 years? Apparently they were making lots of money, had more subs than other MMOs, and thought that was OK and weren’t scared by the major downward trend (though it scared/bothered them enough to *stop releasing sub counts to the public…).

It should also really worry and disturb the WoW people that classic and classic TBC are actually doing pretty well despite really limited support, attention and customer service. A lot of players think Blizz literally made WoW worse, not better, over the last 15 years of patches. I guess the execs don’t think conceptually about what that means and instead are like “see ppl still like WoW, everything is fine”?

There are lots of downstream consequences of doing bad stuff and I think people underestimate that. Like they look at it as “We do X and then Y fans will ragequit, which only costs us $Z, but we’ll make way more than that from X”. And they factor in 10 other things, sure. But you can never factor in all the things. There are 100 other smaller factors (and on that list might be one or two big ones that you didn’t think of, too).

An example is the leaker talking about Blizz having a harder time hiring – cuz their reputation is worse among passionate people – which leads to hiring more friends of employees and stuff. That is probably a meaningful contributing factor to the decline and brain drain that wouldn’t have been predicted 5 or 10 years ago. And you couldn’t make any kind of clear prediction about it years in the past. But being bad and evil and stuff has negative consequences. There will be consequences even if you don’t know what they are in advance. It’ll matter. A lot of people kinda don’t believe this, and others view it superstitiously like “karma”, but it’s a real thing. Violate lots of good principles and bad things will end up happening even if you can’t predict them and can’t ever fully connect the causes and effects even in a post mortem.

There are of course many exceptions in the short term, and sometimes the medium term. Sometimes some other factors make a big difference and drown out a lot of problems. But this is still a major force in life.

The brain drain stuff reminds me of Dagny having trouble getting good workers for her railroad in Atlas Shrugged.

And now Blizz is too brain drained to turn things around.

A lot of their best workers, including a friend of mine, already left to work elsewhere, including at some smaller studios that are springing up, some of which are being funded by the old school blizz execs who left but were there early on so they’re rich now. Like Dreamhaven I think is just old blizz money funding multiple new game dev studios. There’s also btw quite a bit of funding coming in from China and it’s actually concerning how much china owns like they have big pieces or Riot and Epic and they also invest in some new, small studios, i think esp when there’s some kinda reputation or way to know it’s a likely candidate (e.g. it’s staffed with ex blizz devs not random nobodies).

it makes more sense that the biased execs with large monetary incentives ignore problems when you see lots of random ppl on the internet doing it too.

a part i thought particularly notable was you get all these gen Z anti-capitalists in your company, and then what happens? they think companies and customers are adversarial so then they act accordingly. which leads to, as the leak says, seeing customers as “consumers” and trying to be a hunter trapping a large, profitable kill instead of trying to be an entertainer putting on a show. as part of their anti-capitalism, they think company/customer relationships are antagonistic by nature, so then a lot of them are antagonistic to customers b/c they think that’s how reality works. they are creating a lot of their own nightmare, and making it come true, by believing it and acting the part.

i refreshed the reddit thread and am reading some ppl thinking that since the leaker wrote in a conversation (even “frat house”) tone, it must all be wrong and fake, since blizz is a giant corporation that must have a different tone.

hello? guys? i’m sure he acts more respectful and speaks more formally at work. he wasn’t claiming people at blizz actually talk the way he wrote his leak/rant (though i’m sure some do in private conversations).

and thinking the tone doesn’t fit a corporate culture is not disputing any of the factual claims or pointing out how any of the info is implausible. but some people don’t care. attack the source when you don’t like the message, then ignore the message (with zero rebuttal to any actual claims) b/c the source is now discredited (according to you).

some of the CritRats treat me that way. attack the source and ignore every argument.


All we need is for Activision to shut the fuck up.

When blizzard was in control of their company they did fine.

People are so disconnected from reality. Blizzard execs are all activision types. Activision can’t just stop giving orders and fix this. The ppl who ran blizz well don’t work there anymore. Blizz itself is corrupted – and has been for many years.

the reddit responses seem majority negative atm. lots of hate on twitter too. a lot of ppl seem to think if they flame the ppl with something negative to say then the problem will go away? or they act kinda like that. ugh.

it’s partly tribalism. they are like “oh you’re in the anti-blizzard tribe. screw you”. and they stay blizz fans.

hello? the ppl criticizing Blizzard are fans. they want blizz to be better… they aren’t just tribalists from some rival tribe.

sometimes life it feels like the tribalists vs. the rational tribe. the rational ppl end up on the same side cuz that side makes sense, not from bandwagoning, and then the ppl who think in a tribalist way band together against them. and the tribalist tribe is bigger. that’s a really loose approximation though. lots of tribalism happens inside the more rational group even when one side is clearly way more rational.

This kind of reminds me of something Tucker asked about the left: Tucker Carlson: Can the left really lead a country it hates? | Fox News

When people try to run institutions they hate, they do a bad job.

Another example of this is The Last Jedi (Episode 8), which, as far as I could tell, was written and directed by someone who actually hates Star Wars. (Bizarrely, Disney didn’t have a single uber-director/creative person with absolute control of the canon, but instead let it be a creative tug-of-war between, on the one hand, an uninspired, risk-averse director who was perhaps an actual fan, and, on the other hand, a hateful arsonist. The result was that Episode 7 was okay and Episode 8 was so bad that I gave up on Star Wars).

Yeah good discussion here. Is good example of why principle are important. It’s not possible for a person to predict the second (or twenty-second!) order effects of some particular course of action 10 years down the line. But it’s also not necessary. Acting in a proper, moral, appropriate way (to the best of your current ability and understanding) all the time is actually something people can achieve. Oh and you also can’t predict all the second order effects of acting in a good way so if you do that, instead of nasty surprises from acting badly you’ll maybe get nice surprises from acting decently :slight_smile:

I think some Oists hate Kant despite not being able to explain Rand’s criticisms of him well and not having read Kant themselves. Just grrr Kant bad. Very tribalistic, and very ironic to be tribalistic in context of a philosophical movement that emphasizes first handed understanding, reason, individual responsibility & judgment etc etc…

Now I’m imagining a tribalistic anti-tribalism movement. Like imagine a movement with some good anti-tribalistic points, but also imagine they apply their crits in a biased way (politically one-sided, say) and lack self-awareness of their own tribalism. If an organized community of anti-tribalists developed, that’s probably what it’d be like…

we see both some anti-tribalistic rhetoric and some tribalism from the Less Wrong / Slate Star Codex / Silicon Valley Rationalists group/culture/community.

1 Like