Note: I got the date wrong, but if I change it to 2021 now, it’ll break the link everywhere.

Zero Employee Demands Addressed

It has been over two weeks since the employee walkout at Blizzard and leadership continues to ignore the demands of their employees:

Activision Blizzard Employee Demands

  • The end of forced arbitration for all employees.

  • Worker participation in oversight of hiring and promotion policies.

  • The need for greater pay transparency to ensure equality.

  • Employee selection of a third party to audit HR and other company processes.

Today’s walkout will demonstrate that this is not a one-time event that our leaders can ignore. We will not return to silence; we will not be placated by the same processes that led us to this point.

This is the beginning of an enduring movement in favor of better labor conditions for all employees, especially women, in particularly women of color and transgender women, nonbinary people, and other marginalized groups.

We expect a prompt response and a commitment to action from leadership on the points enumerated above, and look forward to maintaining a constructive dialogue on how to build a better Activision Blizzard for all employees.

Today, we stand up for change. Tomorrow and beyond, we will be the change.

Blizzard Fires Jesse McCree, Others

Namesake for the Overwatch cowboy, lead designer Jesse McCree, has been fired from Blizzard. (source)

McCree has been with Blizzard since 2005, and most recently was working on Diablo IV. He was one of the people who appeared in the “2013 Cosby Crew” chat, here telling former narrative designer Dave Kosak that he misspelled “fuck” when Kosak commented that Alex Afrasiabi can’t marry all the women at BlizzCon.

Diablo IV Game Director Luis Barriga and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft were also fired this week.

Few are calling for a name change to the Overwatch hero, but goodness if you just mention his name, the masses come out to say how silly they think it would be to do so, even if you no one brought it up. A redditor noticed that Bren and Sideshow both avoided using the cowboy’s name last weekend during the OWL broadcast, perhaps as a gesture of solidarity, and of course some people had a problem with it.

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OWL 2022 Postponed?

A headline from GGRecon declared that the next season of the Overwatch League will return after a year long hiatus. The clickbait was so strong that Overwatch League Vice President Jon Spector Quote Tweeted the headline, saying, “It’s really not practical to respond to every rumor about our future plans, but in this case this story is inaccurate. We have not set nor communicated dates about our 2022 season yet but do not plan to take a ‘year-long hiatus’ in any scenario we are considering currently.

What the article actually stated was that multiple sources within the Overwatch League told them that the league office told teams that OWL 2022 would start either late summer or mid-autumn.

With loose definitions of summer beginning in late June and autumn at late September, this gives a rough estimate of OWL 2022 beginning between August and October. This year’s OWL finals are late September, so that definitely fits within the “one year” that the headline stated as fact, but Spector is also telling the truth if the next season begins within a year of that.

So is OWL 2022 postponed? Oh jeez no one has any idea. It’s all rumors and speculation at this point and no one should say otherwise yet.

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It Came from the Skin Vault

Back in May during the Overwatch Anniversary AMA, OWL Vice President Jon Spector commented that they were considering on bringing back past OWL skins, and this week it finally came true. Somewhat.

Until August 24, these skins returned from the “OWL Skin Vault” for purchase:

  • The Jjonak MVP Zen-Nakji skin for his performance in 2018.

  • The Winston Flying Ace skin commemorating the London Spitfire 2018 Championship.

  • The Brigitte GOAT skin from 2020 commemorating the GOATS meta.

  • The Doomfist Thunder skin commemorating the San Francisco Shock 2019 Championship.

Missing from this list are the Fleta 2020 MVP Good vs. Evil Echo skin, the San Francisco Shock 2020 Championship Midas Roadhog skin, and the Zarya Alien skin which had all associations with player Sinatraa removed after sexual assault allegations against him surfaced earlier this year.

Many jumped on the rerelease of these skins as a way to get a quick influx of cash or to distract from the larger issues at Activision Blizzard. If either of those were true, this would be such a silly way to go about it. Many people farm up tokens, meaning they have need to spend no cash if they want these, and the Overwatch League is such a small fraction of Activision Blizzard’s entire audience that interest in these skins is not high enough to distract anyone.

Unrelated, the term “skin vault” is really creepy to me.

A Live Patch and a PTR Patch

Live

New options were added to the Social Options menu that allow you to permanently mute various chat channels in-game. I certainly appreciate it because after 5 years I’ve finally realized that almost every single interaction I’ve had in Match Chat was negative and was turning it off every time I played. Gamers are really, really bad at smack talk.

Before these new options, you would have to manually leave channels every time you started the game, and console players could not turn some off at all. Using the new options, you will still be in the channels, but you won’t see any text from them at all.

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PTR

A new Custom Games Browser was added to the PTR, giving players more options to browse custom games. It’s kind of in the name.

With this new browser you can see the top game modes, joining any in progress or start up your own. You can also set games as your favorites, joining any that may be in progress, or start your own.

There aren’t too many people on the PTR so it’s a bit quiet there, as seen in the screenshot, but once this hits live, this will be a huge boon for custom game creators.

Miscellaneous

  • Jason Schreier of Bloomberg News wrote a long piece telling about how the culture of Blizzard helped turn developers into rockstars with each successful game launch. (source)
  • Two articles came out Thursday talking about Activision Blizzard’s QA department being an awful place to work for. While it’s common to rip on Blizzard right now after all the terrible things the company has put many of its employees through, the QA at Blizzard is sadly a tale you will see across companies across the entire gaming industry. These two stories of underpaid, overworked employees, and hostile work environments for trans workers, should not be taken lightly, just know that it happens everywhere. (Kotaku) (Polygon)