The Fall of Blizzard?

watermark

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Recently I've been reading The World of Warcraft Diary by John Staats:

It described a magical company where exciting things happened everyday and where you experience the cutting edge of game development. They invented a lot of what we take for granted today. It was a place so fun you totally won't mind working 12 hours a day 7 days a week, which is what a lot of the devs actually did. Every Blizzard game was gold, and you wondered how they managed to produce hit after hit. It was like they could do no wrong. The book's got great insights into game development. I highly recommend this book.

Due to RL, I unfortunately never got into the WoW or Overwatch scene (I wish I had) and kinda lost touch with Blizzard games after Warcraft 3. Due to this book, I decided to look up Blizzard again after all these years to see what they're up to now.

So I went on YT and WHOA what is up with Blizzard these days?!!
Disappointing sequels that bombed?
A dying WoW?! (Well, they did run it for like 20 years...so I think that's an achievement already).
Sexual harassment in the workplace?!
Overload of money grabbing micro-transactions?

Is this the same company I used to know?
It's especially sad to learn about these things after reading the book describing their glory days.

Just some idle chit chat:
1. Do you think Blizzard games have gone down in quality? Or is this mostly media hype?
2. Do you think Blizzard should be cancelled? Or you think art and dev should be separated?
3. Any lessons or insights you got from the Rise and Fall of this empire?
 

Milennin

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Typical moment when the management becomes only concerned about making money and wanting games designed to squeeze as much money out of players as they can.

I lost interest in Blizzard when they abandoned RTS for their MMO in the mid 00's, but later returned to them for Starcraft II, Diablo III (after all the updates) and the early days of Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Especially in the last 5-6 years, Blizzard has made so many bad moves, they're on the level of EA to me (probably worse than that, actually). They're completely out of touch with the fanbase they have (or had?), having sold their soul to shareholders and China. It doesn't matter to them that they look like incompetent fools and are the laughing stock of games communities, as long as they have the millions of brainless normies spend on micro-transactions in their games.
 

ATT_Turan

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1. Do you think Blizzard games have gone down in quality? Or is this mostly media hype?
I stopped playing WoW after a few expansions, when they took the choice and strategy out of the character progression (talent, I think they were called).

Diablo 2 is still one of my favorite games, and Diablo 3 was a terrible disappointment for the same reasons - it had none of the character planning diversity or strategy or any challenge that the previous game did.
2. Do you think Blizzard should be cancelled? Or you think art and dev should be separated?
I don't think anything/one should be "canceled" - that's one of the most idiotic concepts of modern society.
 

GodCiunas

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Even with Blizzards Fiasco it was well in the dirt before that came to light. WOW had over 100 million players and is down to 4 million. Mostly declining after its 3rd expansion. I was an avid Wow player and even still play. But with each new content release it becomes more and more obvious the devs do not care for the gameplay only the financial gain. Implementing new systems that automatically make older content useless. Focusing on highlighting the new content which becomes useless with the next expansion. Like item set bonuses only active during the season of the expansion then inert with the next one. Really destroys grinding and completion for alot of players. Like whats the point in going through all the trouble if it will just be useless in 4 or 5 months? Really instead of more expansions they should focus on updating all of their original content to par with the new content. Thousands of options and gameplay but no point in doing it when all the best stuff is in the newest dlc. WOW was popular because it's content was fun, challenging, and rewarding. To many nerfs have made it easy to the point where u will likely never run out of stamina or mana even with the worst equipment. Dungeons hold no real value anymore, older raids are obsolete. Truthfully if Wow adopted a system similar to Elder Scrolls Online. With gear, enchantments, ect scaling on player level it would serve to alleviate the obvious gap in older content and players would be more likely to play because there would be a large content pool to choose from other than this semesters newest Blizzard toy.

I do not think Wow should be cancelled. But Blizzard doesnt need to own it. It should reboot under new ownership with a team of Devs that are interested in gaming not suits interested in just money. If they were focused on their fanbase and the gameplay they would actually make more money and regain some of the 96 million players they lost and the billions they could have continued making.
 
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TinyRecorder

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3. Any lessons or insights you got from the Rise and Fall of this empire?
Not necessarily because of Blizzard but over the years I've stopped caring about the name behind the game and focused my energy on the actual game. I like me some Star Craft, played since Brood War, and I'm not gonna stop liking a game just because a corporate monkey suit pulled a blunder.

At the same time though I can understand not wanting to support a company for said blunders, I skipped that new DNF Duel game the second I saw that Nexon logo attached to it. After all I'm sure we've all heard the classic saying at least once, you vote with your wallets.
 

SOC

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The fall of anything is due to a decrease in morality; in this case, the definition of morality was changed into something that is actually very immoral, thus good things become bad in the name of "good" and collapse.

Blizzard used to be moral and just want to make good games for the sake of making good games. It didn't need to go much beyond that. But as time went on and society's "moral standards" changed, inevitably Blizzards intentions and growth changed, so they stopped caring about making good games for the sake of making good games, and instead worked to please the banks and their sponsors.

Happens to all things since history began, due to a singular evil that's persisted since.
 
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gstv87

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I was never a fan of *corporations* over *product*, but I definitely stopped caring about Blizzard as a company after the whole Immortal fiasco.
still to this day, I can't go watch that video without feeling second hand embarrassment... it's not even funny.
"Do you guys not have phones?" completely clueless about the answer he might get, and assuming that having phones implies liking or wanting phone games, and specifically, a game that just happens to be titled the same as a game that's known to be liked.
assumption, assumption and assumption over assumption.
a billion dollar company, can't hire a decent statistician to make a survey.

I think the problem with all of this (across the board) is the dev teams not wanting to make the games they want to make for fear of being "cancelled" by the management or the public, so they resort to making the games that the management wants, and what the management wants is games that make money.
start hiring developers by ability and not by representation quota, nobody on the crew would disrupt anything for being 'offensive', they get to make the games they want, those games coincide with what the public wants for being the developers gamers themselves, the public buys those games, and everyone's happy.
it's as easy as responding to the question of "Why didn't you hire this developer?" with "Because I don't need them"
 

Frostorm

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Is this the same company I used to know?
No, it's not. In fact, many of the original team members of Blizzard (including the CEO) started a new company called Dreamhaven after being disenchanted by the Activision merger.
1. Do you think Blizzard games have gone down in quality? Or is this mostly media hype?
Yes, significantly. This is from someone who started playing WoW on the 1st day of its release back in Nov 2004 in addition to many Blizzard games of yore (Starcraft 1 and after).
2. Do you think Blizzard should be cancelled? Or you think art and dev should be separated?
I don't feel like it's my place to decide that. But no, I don't think art and dev need to be separated.
3. Any lessons or insights you got from the Rise and Fall of this empire?
Nothing lasts forever.
 

sunnyFVA

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I think we can all pretty readily agree that any goodwill they once had for their playerbase is long gone. But, I don't think that it came out of nowhere. Others have already pointed out the large-scale change of personnel and management, but I think there are throughlines to be drawn from at least the inception of WoW. Like Valve pioneered the modern lootbox, Blizzard brought subscription models front and center, and the industry took note. They may not have invented the practice, but it's clear to see that the monetization is embedded in the early DNA of the game (extremely low drop rates of both questing and progression items, decompression of content to extend the time required to access desirable content, time-gated lockouts, etc).

This isn't to say that developers should not try to monetize their work. I just mean that there is some mythology surrounding a golden age of Blizzard that I believe likely ended sooner than most realize. I say this as something of a former Blizzard zealot. It feels more like the now very visible problems with Blizzard are just magnifications of either problems that were long-telegraphed or problems endemic to the industry (and corporate culture) at large.

Also, at least in the context of WoW, it's sort of funny to me that it never comes up in these conversations how much the quality of the gameplay has actually improved with time. Perhaps not constantly and linearly, but definitely in some capacity.

Class design was pretty laughable early on. The optimal warlock rotation for the first two expansions was to press Shadowbolt on cooldown. Debuff limit in vanilla meant raid composition was extremely throttled, and some classes were actively shunned since their mechanics were seemingly not designed to participate in group content at all. Fights had little in the way of gimmicks or mechanics (and in vanilla's case often none) outside of a short list of standouts. The "game" part of early WoW was actually quite badly made.

so they stopped caring about making good games for the sake of making good games, and instead worked to please the (((banks))) and their (((sponsors))).

What do the parentheses mean?
 

SOC

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What do the parentheses mean?
Referring to those that own the banks and cause all problems and evil in the world, the singular root cause. Usury banking would not exist, and thus 99%+ of all world problems, if not for them.
 
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Tamsyn548

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The fall of anything is due to a decrease in morality; in this case, the definition of morality was changed into something that is actually very immoral, thus good things become bad in the name of "good" and collapse.

Blizzard used to be moral and just want to make good games for the sake of making good games. It didn't need to go much beyond that. But as time went on and society's "moral standards" changed, inevitably Blizzards intentions and growth changed, so they stopped caring about making good games for the sake of making good games, and instead worked to please the (((banks))) and their (((sponsors))).

Happens to all things since history began, due to a singular evil that's persisted since.
Nah, Blizzard has not become greedy because of "society". It's a rule of life that when a company becomes big, popular, and wealthy, it will care more and more about preserving that wealth and getting more of that wealth.

This is true for individual humans too. Blizzard has become greedy for more money, and that's not because society has become immoral (?). Also what are the specifics of this moral shift you refer to?
 

TheAM-Dol

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It's a rule of life that when a company becomes big, popular, and wealthy, it will care more and more about preserving that wealth and getting more of that wealth.
Not exactly. If the company is publicly tradable (which Blizzard Activision is) it is literally illegal for them to not make money. They are required by law to make decisions that benefit their investors. So it's not necessarily greed, it's that they are doing what the law requires them to do. Now, the Cosby Room is entirely different. I'm just speaking in general about large companies.

That's all I want to contribute to this topic, because it's a long one filled with a lot of landmines. I'm sure someone will have better discussion points than me.:rswt
Anyways, here's to hoping MS turns that ship around.

edit:
small clarification
 

Ahuramazda

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If you go back and look at the games before the Activision-Blizzard merger that happened, you will see Blizzard was in a golden era for its game and creativity. Soon after the buyout happened and Blizz was tethered in by Activision and you started seeing things like the Real Money shop, microtransactions, and a few other things.

Then came the WoW Token, allowing you to use in-game gold to either pay for the sub fee or add money to your battle.net account, which could then be used to purchase many other things ranging from Call of Duty, Diablo, Starcraft, ect.

When the WoW Token was originally added I absolutely loved it as I was an Auction House wh*re and had massive piles of gold, and I have played for 3-4 years since using only gold I had made in the game. It was about the time of Battle For Azeroth though I started to realize how bad the WoW Token actually was for the game... started seeing things like guilds and arena teams offering to carry other people for the cost of 2-3 WoW Tokens ($30-45 real money or depending on server economy talking maybe 150-200k gold per token). Blizz will NEVER admit it, but that was the beginning of what I felt a real major downturn towards the game being psuedo-pay-to-win.

Diablo has severely suffered from Activision's influence... see Diablo Immortal, or "Immoral" if you have read up about how it might just be one of the greediest pay-to-win schemes ever... cost well over $15000+ USD to get even remotely close to maxing A SINGLE CHARACTER. I was personally interested in this game when it was revealed, but after all the negative info about it has came out I can care less, and if Diablo 4 has anything in it real money related, hard pass.

I haven't done anything else Blizz owned, but I have a few friends who were actually Blizz fans since Warcraft 1 originally released and they said that up until Activision took over and started pushing more money grabs and faster less-quality content agendas the company was amazing.

I wont lie though, some of the stuff they are bringing back for WoW: Dragonflight, the next expansion is giving me SOME hope they are going to maybe try going back closer to the roots... my real hope is when the Microsoft buyout that is in the works finally happens they will clean house and allow Blizz to really get back to what made them such an amazing company back in the 1990s and 2000s.
 

Tamsyn548

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Not exactly. If the company is publicly tradable (which Blizzard Activision is) it is literally illegal for them to not make money. They are required by law to make decisions that benefit their investors. So it's not necessarily greed, it's that they are doing what the law requires them to do. Now, the Cosby Room is entirely different. I'm just speaking in general about large companies.

That's all I want to contribute to this topic, because it's a long one filled with a lot of landmines. I'm sure someone will have better discussion points than me.:rswt
Anyways, here's to hoping MS turns that ship around.

edit:
small clarification
Not what I'm saying. Of course they have to make money, and there's nothing wrong with that. But eventually these companies tend to be too greedy in their policies. Another major "pay to win" company is EA.

So you might be wondering what an example would be of a company that does this better. ArenaNet is one.
 

Touchfuzzy

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I know that technically SOC was given a "last warning" here, but I feel that harsher penalties were required for something of this level.

This forum has no room for bigotry of any type. SOC is permabanned.

 

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