Blizzard Boss Details Attempts To Change Company Culture

In a recent interview, Blizzard studio head Mike Ybarra tried to address the developer’s criticism, highlighting changes to corporate culture and defending Diablo Immortal.

In an LA Times profile, Ybarra said he believed Blizzard was addressing the concerns of employees who were under his control, though he acknowledged it was an ongoing process. When asked what steps he was taking to change Blizzard, he said, “We took two or three key people who identify as women, on each team, and I meet with them every month. We talk about what will make Blizzard ideal for women. Our hope is that employees recognize these changes and that people begin to feel safer and more comfortable here. He pointed out that these meetings are not just with top-level staff, but with entry-level and mid-level employees. He also expressed his commitment to equal pay and said the recent hires of Jessica Martinez and Makaiya Brown made the development process fairer.

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On the business side, Ybarra defended Diablo Immortal’s microtransactions saying, “The ethos has always been to lead with great gameplay and ensure that hundreds of millions of people can roam the entire campaign at no cost. From that perspective, I feel really good about an introduction to Diablo. Blizzard recently outlined plans for the free-to-play mobile title, but did not respond to monetization criticism. Ybarra expressed a desire to release more games more consistently, criticizing the ten-year release gap between Diablo 3 and Diablo Immortal. He also stated his intention to bring back BlizzCon in 2023.

After expressing hope that the company has grown beyond the elements of its past, Ybarra said, “I don’t think it’s ever ending. There is no high-five that we have met our commitments. It’s something that will stay in our DNA forever. It’s a haunting statement to read as the Activision Blizzard King Worker Alliance today announced plans for a July 21 walkout, citing a disconnect between leadership promises and the practical reality of employees.

The workers’ organization has expressed concern about employee safety in states where abortion has been banned and said the company has not sufficiently addressed sexual harassment. The group demanded stronger healthcare plans and access to the sexual harassment audit requested by shareholders, among other things other requests detailed in their statement.

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