Activision Blizzard Lays Off More People During a Pandemic

This week Activision Blizzard fired more of their employees while company revenue has soared higher and higher, and during a global pandemic.

Word is that around 50 people come from both the Overwatch League and Call of Duty esports, and according to Jason Schreier at Bloomberg, also employees from King.com. Some numbers estimate under or around 190 people.

A reason given for dropping esports employees is the reduction of in-person events due to the pandemic.

The severance package for US-based employees include 3 months pay, health benefits for a year, and the kicker, a $200 gift card in the form of Battle.net money. Being that employees get something like a 25 year World of Warcraft subscription, this will help them get the next few expansions or maybe Overwatch 2 “free” if they even want to keep playing Blizzard games after this.

Just last month, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said of the company’s recent financial successes, that the employees were great due to their, “…generating record financial results for our shareholders. Under difficult circumstances, but with the same conviction and focus, they will continue to do so in 2021.” If I’m understanding those financial statements linked correctly, by the end of 2020 Activision Blizzard revenue was up $1.6 billion USD over the same point in 2019.

Ugh.

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LA Valiant announce their new roster

The Los Angeles Valiant announced Wednesday their new roster for the 2021 season.

  • Tank: Sliver3, NvM, ShowCheng
  • DPS: Molanran, Krystal
  • Support: Highbee, Wya

Some of the players on the new roster, ShowCheck, Sliver3, and Highbee, are all pickups from Contenders team The One Winner. Some of the others are a bit curious.

To older Overwatch League viewers, Krystal is the name in this list they will recognize. Krystal was formerly with the Hangzhou Spark where much of his time was spent suspended after extending a personal leave without permission and lying about why he took leave to his employers. He would also skip out on scrims and other team events. After almost a year of being on suspension, Krystal was finally released and picked up by the Guangzhou Charge, who was dropped 3 months later.

As for the others, Highbee was a tank player before being put in the support role here for the Valiant. NvM retired from Overwatch back in 2018. Neither damage player is well-known for playing hitscan on other teams.

Reactions to the roster have been extremely negative as the perception is that the Valiant just put together whoever they could find in their short, available time. A few community translations of Weibo comments include: “Good luck, hope you don’t lose too badly,” “This roster would be curbstomped by Contenders,” “It’s like Dragons 1.0 all over again.” OWL caster Uber shared his thoughts, with lines such as, “What in God’s green earth” and, “I wasn’t even an LA Valiant fan and yet I’m deeply insulted by this.”

At the end of January, the Valiant dropped the roster they had been building, claiming COVID-related visa issues. Since then, they have been scrambling to build a new roster before OWL 2021 begins in a few weeks.

Experimental Flash Ops Panel

Last weekend a panel of Overwatch community and player experts were gathered to propose new balance changes heroes. These changes will only be used for the upcoming Flash Ops Experimental Card Tournament that begins Friday, March 26, however they will be available in the Experimental Card for all players for one week beginning on Monday, March 22.

Ana

  • Max ammo increased from 12 to 14
  • Nano Boost can be used on Ana by hitting the interact key (default F)

Ashe

  • Dynamite damage reduced from 100 to 90

Baptiste

  • Regenerative Burst healing reduced from 75 to 65
  • Immortality Field no longer protects teammates to a minimum of 20% health—minimum changed to 1 health

Bastion

  • Self-Repair increases movement speed by 25% while in use

Brigitte

  • Inspire healing to teammates removed when Brigitte is eliminated

D.Va

  • Boosters duration increased from 2 to 3 seconds

Doomfist

  • No changes

Echo

  • Duplicate: when ultimate ends, Echo will be healed to half health instead of full

Genji

  • Alternate fire spread reduced from 9 to 8 meters
  • Dragon Blade: when Genji gets a kill during his ultimate, the duration is increased by 1 second

Hanzo

Dragon Strike:

  • Movement speed increased by 20%
  • Damage increased by 20%
  • Distance before the dragon forms from the arrow shot lowered from 10 to 5 meters

Junkrat

  • Concussion Mine minimum damage increased from 30 to 35

Lúcio

  • Soundwave cooldown increased from 4 to 6 seconds Crossfade:
  • Radius increased by 50%
  • Effectiveness is increased by 20% at close range, falling off to -50% at maximum range

McCree

  • No changes

Mei

  • Maximum ammo increased from 120 to 140

Mercy

  • Killing blows reset Guardian Angel cooldown

Moira

  • No changes

Orisa

Protective Barrier:

  • Health increased from 600 to 700
  • Cooldown increased from 10 to 11

Pharah

  • New Passive: Damage taken while airborne decreases by 5% and damage taken while grounded increases by 10%

Reaper

  • Shadowstep voice line removed

Reinhardt

  • Earthshatter: stuns closer targets for up to 3 seconds; maximum range targets stunned for the normal 2.5 seconds

Roadhog

  • No changes

Sigma

  • No changes

Soldier: 76

Helix Rockets:

  • Can hold 2 charges
  • Damage reduced from 40 impact + 80 explosive to 30 impact + 50 explosive
  • Self-damage scalar reduced from 50% to 40%.

Sombra

Hack:

  • Activation time increased from 0.65 to 1.15 seconds
  • Duration increased from 5 to 6 seconds
  • Translocator cooldown triggered when used or destroyed (as it used to) and is reduced from 6 to 5 seconds

Symmetra

  • Turret travel speed increased from 15 to 20 meters per second

Torbjörn

Turrets:

  • Can hold 2 turrets
  • Damage and health of turrets reduced by 40%

Tracer

  • Health increased from 150 to 175
  • Recall cooldown increased from 12 to 14 seconds

Widowmaker

Venom Mine:

  • Damage increased from 75 to 120
  • Duration changed from 5 to 6 seconds
  • Trigger radius increased from 3 to 4 meters

Winston

  • Armor increased by 15 and health reduced by 15 (total pool is the same)

Wrecking Ball

  • Size reduced by 15%
  • Ammo reduced from 80 to 70
  • Grappling Claw cooldown increased from 5 to 7 seconds
  • Adaptive Shield no longer prevents enemies from generating ultimate charge

Zarya

  • Projected Barrier range increased from 30 to 34 meters

Zenyatta

  • Transcendence speed multiplier increased from 2x to 2.3x

This community tournament is available to everyone, and signups are open until Wednesday, March 24. Links to each region’s tournament signups are at the bottom the Flash Ops website with the above balance changes.