Zero Employee Demands Addressed

It’s been over three 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.

Lawsuit against Activision Blizzard Expanded

This week website Axios reported that the State of California has expanded its lawsuit against Blizzard, now including temporary workers and not just “female full-time employees.”

Additional people were brought in on behalf of the State after multiple articles regarding the terrible working conditions for contract workers at Activision Blizzard were published. While the experiences of those QA workers are an industry-wide problem, it makes sense to bring them into lawsuit here because 1) it happened here under Activision Blizzard’s watch; and 2) it gives the state a reason to finally try to combat the issues without making them the sole issue, which would be more difficult to fight.

Also in the updated lawsuit, the State alleges that Activision Blizzard has interfered with the investigation by forcing employees to sign NDAs that would require them to talk to the company first before investigators. They also allege that HR at Activision Blizzard has shredded documents related to investigations and complaints. Activision Blizzard told Axios in a later statement that the allegations of documents being destroyed are untrue, and that the company “complied with every proper request in support of its review even as we had been implementing reforms to ensure our workplaces are welcoming and safe for every employee.”

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McCree’s Name to Be Changed

On Thursday the Overwatch team announced that McCree’s name would be changed. They did not say what the new name will be or when, only that it will take time to roll out correctly and updates will be shared as work progresses.

In the announcement they also revealed that in September there originally was a narrative arc, with new story and game content where McCree plays a key role. They are now delaying that until “later this year” and instead are launching Malevento, the new deathmatch map, in September. Going forward, the Overwatch team stated they will no longer name in-game characters after real employees and declared they will be more thoughtful and discerning about adding real world references in future game content.

Lead Narrative Designer and Writer for Overwatch comment on Twitter to please continue to post name replacements like “Sixshooter McHighNoon” and Bilbo Bingleblatt.

PTR: New Deathmatch Map Malevento

This week we got our first–official–look at the newest map, Malevento, set high in the mountains of Italy. It’s another beautiful map whose theming is more of a small Italian village, unlike the Rialto map that’s based on the much larger Venice.

Like Kanezaka that came out earlier this year, the map is full of mostly tight spaces and streets, peaceful overlooks, and even a cathedral. I think the cathedral is my favorite part thanks to the stained-glass lighting effects. You’ll also find two jump pads and several varying “floors” for fights at different elevations. Also like Kanezaka, there is some neat sound design, with different music and ambient effects playing based on where you are on the map.

Every time a new deathmatch map is released, it gets dumped on because it’s not one of the “main” map modes. Deathmatch is popular though, and as the Overwatch team has stated in the past, they’re great for their new map designers to get some practice in.

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OWL Playoffs and Grand Finals No Longer Live Events

This week the Overwatch League confirmed that the planned live events in Dallas and Los Angeles for the Overwatch League 2021 Playoffs and Grand Finals have been canceled. They are instead moving ahead with the backup plan, running the events using a connection in Hawaii, as was done for the monthly tournaments of the 2021 season.

Fans had been waiting and waiting for tickets to go on sale for the postseason games. As time went on and the delta variant of COVID gets worse in America, the community already speculated that the events would not happen.

There will be new dates for the Playoffs and Grand Finals–which have yet to be announced–but single-elimination regional play-ins will still take place next weekend on September 4-5. The postseason will be played on patch 1.63, the recent patch that we know as the one that added muting to chat channels, but will now also include the recent patch that had changes for Doomfist, Genji, Moira, Roadhog, and Soldier: 76.

Caster Brennon Hook took to Twitter, upset that the events couldn’t happen, blaming those who unvaccinated by choice. As someone who lives in a US state with a first-dose vaccination rate of 50 percent, despite the vaccine being super easy to get since April, it’s upsetting.

Miscellaneous

  • MCD was terminated from the Hangzhou Spark for making a comment about Chinese people while playing a ranked match against XRAY of the Chengdu Hunters academy team. (source)
  • It’s the final week of Season 29 so get those games in!
  • A ban wave affecting over 18,000 accounts went out this week after progress was made against multiple game hacks. (source)