WoW news

J. Allen Brack’s Internal Email, Warcraft III: Reforged Production Backstory

Update: Added Frances Townsend’s statement on the lawsuit.

J. Allen Brack’s Internal Email to Blizzard Staff
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack has sent out an internal email to Blizzard staff, in which he addresses the allegations from the lawsuit filed by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Here’s a copy of the email, as reported by Jason Schreier.

Originally Posted by J. Allen Brack

Hello Blizzard –

I personally have a lot of emotions coming out of yesterday, and I know you do, too. The allegations and the hurt of current and former employees are extremely troubling.

I know many of you would like to receive more clarity. While I can’t comment on the specifics of the case as it’s an open investigation, what I can say is that the behavior detailed in the allegations is completely unacceptable.

  • It goes – with saying – it is completely unacceptable for anyone in the company to face discrimination or harassment.
  • It goes – with saying – that everyone should feel safe working here, whether we are on campus, at BlizzCon, or working from home.
  • It goes – with saying – it takes courage to come forward, and all claims brought to the company are investigated by internal and (when needed) external investigators. We take these claims very seriously. Claims can be made without fear of retaliation, and many times, I attend to them personally, along with our other leaders.

Stepping back – when I talked with Bobby about taking this job, one of the first things I mentioned was a revered saint of the Brack household – Gloria Steinem. Growing up, the value of women as equals, understanding the work that had been done for equal treatment, and the fact that there was still much to do, were common themes. This is just one of the reasons why the fight for equality is incredibly important to me. People with different backgrounds, views, and experiences are essential for Blizzard, our team, and our player community. I disdain “bro culture,” and have spent my career fighting against it.

Iterating on our culture with the same intensity that we bring to our games is imperative, with our values acting as our north star. This is some of the most important work we do, both as professionals and human beings.

A company is more than a legal construct that exists as a piece of paper in a filing cabinet in Delaware. The people that work at the company make it what it is, through their actions and creations. Each of us plays a role in maintaining a place of safety for one other. And it is also up to each of us to continue to craft the Blizzard we want – and commit to doing our part in keeping Blizzard great but always aspiring for more.

The leadership team and I will be meeting with many of you to answer questions and discuss how we can move forward. In the meantime, I want you to know that you can talk to any manager, any HR partner, any member of the legal team, or to any one on the executive team [including, Hey J]. If you feel more comfortable talking to someone outside Blizzard, or prefer to be anonymous, you can contact the Way2Play Integrity Line.

I feel angry, sad, and a host of other emotions, but I also feel grateful to work alongside a set of leaders and thousands of employees who join me in their commitment to continuous improvement.

Thank you Blizzard.

JAB

Edit: Frances Townsend has also sent an internal email.

Originally Posted by Frances Townsend

Everyone,

As the Executive Sponsor of the ABK Employee Women’s Network and our Chief Compliance Officer, I wanted to reach out to you. I know this has been difficult for many of us. A recently filed lawsuit presented a distorted and untrue picture of our company, including factually incorrect, old, and out of context stories — some from more than a decade ago.

The Activision companies of today, the Activision companies that I know, are great companies with good values. When I joined the Executive Leadership Team, I was certain that I was joining a company where I would be valued, treated with respect, and provided opportunities equal to those afforded to the men of the company. For me, this has been true during my time. As a leader, I an committed to making sure that the experience I have is the same as the rest of the organization. We have a leadership team that is committed to these principles in every way.

I am proud to be part of a company that takes a hard—line approach to inappropriate or hostile work environments and sexual harassment issues. Our Speak Up campaign reinforces our zero tolerance for retaliation against those who do speak up. We’ve made significant investments to foster inclusive behaviors, and to reflect greater diversity within our leadership teams including:

* Investing in and strengthening our DE&I Employee Networks; creating global networks to bring together the efforts in all of our business units and the introduction of Executive Sponsors.
* Introducing learning and development programs, including inclusive hiring training.
* Amplifying internal programs such as the Way2Play Heroes and the recurring Speak Up campaign.
* Reinforcing channels for employees to report violations including the “ASK List.”
* Introducing an Employee Relations team dedicated to investigating employee concerns.
* Continuing to require all employees to take Equality & Diversity training including anti—harassment training (and have done so for many years).

We put tremendous effort into creating fair compensation policies that reflect our commitment to equal opportunity. We review compensation regularly and feel confident that we pay all employees fairly for equal or substantially similar work. We take proactive steps to ensure that pay and advancement are driven by merit. We reward performance, and we conduct extensive anti—discrimination trainings, including for those who are part of the compensation process.

We work at a company that truly values equality and fairness. Rest assured that leadership is committed to continuing to maintain a safe, fair, and inclusive workplace. We cannot let egregious actions of others, and a truly meritless and irresponsible lawsuit, damage our culture of respect and equal opportunity for all employees. We aspire in our company to do great things: in our games, in our impact on society, and in our work environment. We continue to hold firm to our principles and invest, as we have in the past, the resources to ensure quality opportunities for all employees. We remain committed as a leadership team to doing what is right.

– Fran

Warcraft III: Reforged Production Backstory
In an article posted on Bloomberg, Jason Schreier goes over how Blizzard botched the Warcraft III remake because of internal fights and pressure over costs.

  • According to newly revealed documents and people with knowledge of the failed launch, Warcraft III: Reforged was a result of mismanagement and financial pressures pushed by Activision.
  • Blizzard originally promised “over four hours of updated in-game cutscenes and re-recorded voice-overs”, however the game launched without that. The remake also lacked features from the original Warcraft III, such as a ranked ladder for competitive players.
  • Due to a limited budget, the hiring was restricted to the point where not even employees from other Blizzard departments could come and help.
    • Some employees were tasked to do multiple jobs at once, and had to work many nights and weekends to try and finish the game.
    • Layoffs from February 2019 included some employees working in Blizzard’s support departments.
    • The team shared that: “we were missing and/or had the wrong people in certain lead roles” and that “the team structure didn’t set up the project for success”.
    • By the end of 2019, employees from all across Blizzard were brought in to help finish the game, but even that wasn’t enough.