At an all-hands meeting last week, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra attempted to address the results of an employee satisfaction survey, but his responses have proven controversial, reports Game Developer.
The company has decided to cut employee’s profit sharing bonus by almost half, despite Blizzard recently reporting its strongest quarter in years thanks to the launch of Diablo Immortal, Overwatch 2, and expansions to World of Warcraft. This has proven frustrating to employees who have seen significant reductions in their compensation, despite their hard work.
In his attempt to address the issue, president Ybarra suggested that executive bonuses have likewise seen cuts, stating “If you think executives are making a lot of money and you aren’t, you’re living in a myth.”
Ybarra also seemingly took aim at several departments at Blizzard, dismissing customer service and quality assurance as “not long-term disciplines,” despite their importance to game development and operation, and the presence of both departments in the room. However, a representative for the company reached out to Game Developer following its initial report on Ybarra’s statements, clarifying that he was in fact referring to entry-level roles.
Back to work
Ybarra also discussed Blizzard’s decision to mandate staff to return to the office. While a representative has again clarified that exemptions will be made for staff who were hired on an all-remote basis or who have medical or religious exemptions, Blizzard staff are expected to return to the office for three days a week from July.
Discussing the company’s plans to avoid key talent who prefer remote-working leaving the company, Ybarra stated: “At the end of the day we want people to be happy, and if decisions about being happy don’t align with where we’re going, and you won’t be happy, then you’ll have to do what will make you happy.”
In short, Ybarra’s statements throughout the meeting seem to have been focused on defending the company’s position, rather than address the concerns of employees. While profit and shareholder value are important aspects of running any company, Blizzard’s focus on them while downplaying the needs of employees could prove detrimental.
“Blizzard stands by each of these statements and we’re proud of Mike’s leadership in tough moments,” said a Blizzard representative after the event.
Last month, Blizzard reportedly entered final negotiations with a new Chinese partner, following the end of its existing deal with NetEase.