Blizzard is a company that has more than its fair share of negative publicity, especially more recently in the lead up to the big Microsoft acquisition. So as its development teams work on microtransaction-filled mobile titles, PR is on damage control to quell past mistakes and at least try to restore the reputation.
Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, was recently interviewed by LA Times, covering a range of topics in 45 minutes from his ruling passion for video games, to his company’s current culture crisis.
Ybarra, who first joined the company after collaborating to produce Microsoft’s Xbox brand image for two decades in 2019, was left with the monumental task of correcting and cleansing Blizzard’s deep-seated gender inequality and “frat boy” culture, resulting in a lawsuit by California back in July 2021. Ybarra said that “we’re committed to changing our culture,” and had discussed specific policies recently taken to ensure that a positive change occurs, expressing his hopes to have an impact on the gaming industry, this time, a positive one.
This, however, comes as a bit contradictory, as the Activision Blizzard King Workers Alliance recently posted a tweet expressing their intention of a mass walkout scheduled for July 21 in an attempt to force the company to address employee demands.
“Our walk-out demands focus on the protections of ABK employees from external threats like the recent overturn of Roe V. Wade, and internal threats such as retaliation and harassment while in the workplace.”
And as a sort of cherry on top of the continuation of Blizzard’s gender inequality crisis, Ybarra has been criticised for his defence of Diablo Immortal’s microtransaction product model. Despite the massive backlash over the game’s sneaky monetisation methods, Ybarra proclaimed 99.5 per cent of the content in Diablo Immortal to be free to access, and that “the monetisation comes in at the end game.”
Bellular News, a YouTube channel, posted a video outlining just how much money a player would have to fork out to get a fully upgraded character.
Oh, and if you were wondering, that figure stands at around US$300,000 – $600,000.