Zero Employee Demands Addressed

It’s been over six 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.

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Activision Blizzard Alleged to Have Retaliated Against Employees

A new suit has been filed against Activision Blizzard, this time by the ABK Workers Alliance (ABK), a group of employees of Activision Blizzard. While ABK is not a union, they have partnered with the union Communications Workers of America AFL-CIO (CWA) (website) who is suing on their behalf.

The suit claims that Activision Blizzard has unlawfully told employees they can’t talk about how much they are paid, the hours they work, and their working conditions. Further, the suit says Activision Blizzard has a very broad social media policy that they use to threaten and discipline people who speak out online, saying things some employees talk about regarding Activision Blizzard is against the very vague rules.

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of VICE reports that employees have told them: “We’ve seen retaliation already so I’m scared,” and another said, “Blizzard has been hemorrhaging people [since the allegations].”

The full text of the basis of the charge from the document reads:

Within the last six months [Activision Blizzard, Inc.] has repeatedly engaged in unlawful conduct by threatening employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed by Section 7. The employer has threatened employees that they cannot talk about or communicate about wages, hours and working conditions; told employees they cannot communicate with or discuss ongoing investigations of wages, hours and working conditions; maintained an overly broad social media policy; enforced the social media policy against employees who have engaged in protected concerted activity; threatened or disciplined employees on account of protected concerted activity; engaged in surveillance of employees engaged in protected concerted activity and engaged in interrogation of employees about protected concerted activity

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Overwatch 2 at Grand Finals; Sombra and Bastion Reworks

This week the Overwatch team announced we will get a look at the Overwatch 2 reworks for Sombra and Bastion next week during the Grand Finals.

We don’t know the order of events, but we do know that over the course of the Pre-Show and halftime we’re going to see both of those reworks, discussion about Bastion’s new look (he has a hat now), and an exhibition match showing off Overwatch 2 starring players from OWL teams who did not make it to the finals. Next year the Overwatch League will play on Overwatch 2.

The Pre-Show for the Overwatch League Grand Finals season are next Saturday night (US) at 7 p.m. Central, or 12 a.m. GMT, with the games themselves beginning one hour later. (Schedule in listed order; schedule in bracket format)

Overwatch League Postseason Viewing Perks

Don’t forget that, as we mentioned last week, viewers will be able to earn Overwatch League branded skins to use in-game based on how much they watch the Playoffs and Grand Finals. Check that blog post out for full details.

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Overwatch Community Manager Talks Tank Role and Support Rule in Overwatch 2

CM AndyB wrote at length this week about how tanks feel in Overwatch 2 and mentioned some things about the support role as well. HEADS-UP! Responses to this story online were mostly angry responses by those who did not read the posts or, intentionally or not, completely misunderstanding what was in them. Please read carefully before jumping to conclusions and telling all your friends all the wrong things. NONE of the changes are being made in a vacuum. Remember that each hero is being re-tuned and adjusted based on one fewer player on each team and 31+ other heroes.

Tanks

  • Tanks in Overwatch 2 remain disruptive line breakers and push-leading protectors.
  • With only five players on a team in Overwatch 2, protections tank provided are going to be reduced in strength because in Overwatch 1 their numbers assume six players attacking barriers, not five. Some changes may include some or all of the following: lower health, increased cooldowns, or lowered durations. Barriers will still be impactful but must change in some way to account for one less player attacking them.
  • Positioning in Overwatch 1 is important for players who want to excel, and in Overwatch 2, the change to one tank makes it even more important. (Miko: This is not a change to Overwatch at all but a few community responses took this to weird places.)
  • Tanks in Overwatch 2 are still the authority on blocking damage and are slightly tougher on an individual basis, generally increasing their damage and utility. When played optimally, Reinhardt in Overwatch 2 is more aggressive than players tend to play him in Overwatch 1. This means that he offers less direct protection to his team through damage mitigation because his shield isn’t up, but offers damage mitigation in other ways, such as forcing enemy players to focus on him. (Miko: So now when you see others rage online about tanks being changed in some way, you know they aren’t thinking about context.)
  • Currently the community worries that if the lone tank in Overwatch 2 dies, the team fight is over. Playtests show this is not the reality. Just as each player in 5v5 is more important to overall success, each player in 5v5 is also able to “do more” in the sense of power. While losing your tank sucks, it doesn’t mean the end of everything.
  • Mobile tanks such as D.Va, Winston, and Wrecking Ball will see their utility improved, such as gaining stopping power and the ability to be more offensive or defensive as needed.
  • Remember that in Overwatch 1, most people don’t like playing tank. When they do, it’s probably because the tank is overpowered at that moment thanks to the current meta. With one tank, it gives Blizzard an opportunity to make some fun play without having to worry how it interacts with another tank.
  • Blizzard knows that tanks in Overwatch 1 contribute more damage than they mitigate, but after reducing the number of tanks for Overwatch 2, it stood out even more and less damage is dealt in 5v5. (What this means for supports is below.) (Miko: Multiple people took this bullet point as, “Blizzard had no idea tanks did damage,” and I was just smh)

Support

  • Changes to how Overwatch is played in Overwatch 2 means Blizzard was able to remove the stun from Brigitte Shield Bash. Being that we have no context for this change, the community has been heralding this as the second coming, or the worst thing in the world. I have just one word of warning: be careful what you wish for. ;)
  • The playstyle for current support heroes on retail will generally feel the same in Overwatch 2 as in Overwatch 1.
  • As of right now there is no plan to remove the self-healing that some heroes like Ana and Baptiste have. They may be tuned for the new passive self-healing that’s coming for supports, but they will keep their abilities.
  • Because there is less damage being dealt by both teams in Overwatch 2 due to 5v5, if supports keep their healing output at Overwatch 1 levels, they are TOO effective in Overwatch 2. This means healing output for all supports will likely come down to keep fights from going forever.
  • Orb of Discord from Zenyatta in its Overwatch 1 state is theoretically weaker in Overwatch 2 with one less player on each team. This does not mean Orb of Discord will not be changed in the future.
  • Damage Boost from Mercy in its Overwatch 1 state has not shown any major issues in Overwatch 2. This does not mean Damage Boost will not be changed in the future.

General

  • Blizzard is not prepared to talk about what will happen with Open Queue in Overwatch 2. This is not because they have good or bad news, just that they aren’t at that stage yet in development.

  • Blizzard is not prepared to talk about specs required to play Overwatch 2 yet.

  • With the reduction of CC and tanks becoming more mobile, a concern by a user was expressed about reduced ability to deal with flankers. AndyB said they are paying close attention and current playtests show heroes like Doomfist, Wrecking Ball, and Tracer need to be rebalanced or nerfed so they fit into Overwatch 2 after the change to 5v5.

  • Blizzard is not prepared to talk about damage heroes yet beyond the above bullet point.

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Progress of Cowboy Name Change

Over on Reddit, CM AndyB responded to a query about when the name change for McCree will happen.

First things first, there is no date to share but work is continuing. In Andy’s words:

The Cowboy name change is a pretty complicated project, including (and not limited to), voice lines, localization, UI/UX elements, art assets, checking with the regions for cultural considerations, and publishing aspects. Change like this takes some time to achieve.

Because this is a meaningful undertaking the decision itself was made deliberately, and involved conversation with, and feedback from, all of Team 4. I can understand why you may worry that this decision was made in a rush (especially given the whirlwind of surrounding news), however I personally was very grateful for the leadership and consideration that Aaron and the other T4 leads showed in helping the team work through this very challenging issue.