FOR AZEROTH! EP. 189 – “ONE STEP FORWARD..?”

Jared and Manny discuss the big news surrounding the game this week with a talk from investors, talk from Ion and hopefully talk from you!


The Letter from Bobby

One of the announcements during the ABK earnings call on Tuesday was Jen Oneal departing Blizzard

  • Announced as one of the co-leads for Blizzard with the departure of J. Allen Brak on Aug 3rd
  • This announcement comes exactly 91 days later.
  • Oneal will transition to a new role and will stay on through the end of the year.
  • Mike Ybarra will continue as the sole lead for Blizzard
  • Ms. Oneal has no defined plans on what she wants to do after the year; but, has been inspired to ‘make a broader industry impact.’
  • There are reports that the general staff was informed while the news was being delivered at the investor’s call.
  • As Ms. Oneal departs ABK will be making a $1 million grant to Women in Games International
  • Jen Oneal is a board member of WIGI
  • Reports have surfaced that Mike Ybarra is having difficulties realizing an open door policy
  • A report has also come to light saying that all contract workers are being forced to take 2 weeks of unpaid vacation time during the holiday season

Ion Hazzikostas Breaks Silence

Venture Beat had the opportunity to sit down with Game Director, Ion Hazzikostas. 

  • Changes to bring the game more in line with today’s values are in addition to all the systematic changes happening within the team.
  • These changes are not part of a large undertaking.
  • Some things have been left in because they are not trying to rewrite 17+ years of history.
  • Datamining amplifies every change.
  • WoW may adopt machine learning to help combat hateful social interactions between players in the future
  • Ion spoke on providing more equitable hiring practices to increase the diversity within the team
  • The team is trying to focus on aligning the workplace culture to be more positive and correct issues that occur despite good intentions.
  • There is an admission that the team’s morale had taken a hit but the efforts involved in 9.1.5 helped rally the team.
  • Ion spoke to the team doing better at listening to the feedback. They get and should not dismiss it as a vocal minority.
  • 9.1.5 represents a shift in long-held design philosophies with more respect for players’ time
  • Cross-faction activities are being re-examined
  • Balancing the bigger cosmos story with the roots of the franchise (Orcs v Humans)
  • Looking to make better use of things that were made in the past
  • [The] intent is to keep evolving [the game]… to remove some old and crusty parts and add new ones.

Warcraft Community Council

A new avenue has been created for the players to have their say and converse with Blizzard.

  • Submissions are open to any player interested in taking part in the program.
  • At least 100 players selected
  • Once players are selected, they’ll be given the ability to post in a new discussion forum that is publicly visible to everyone.
  • In this new forum, we’ll ask members to share their experiences and perspectives on anything in the game, and some topics may be started by Blizzard developers and community managers.
  • Responses and updates from Blizzard will be posted there so they can easily be discussed by the entire community.
  • A private discussion will also be set up for Council members to encourage direct interaction between members.
  • Separate conversations between smaller groups of members and Blizzard developers will be encouraged to ensure players with differing perspectives are being heard.
  • This should allow feedback from many different playstyles and areas of the game, rather than having it all be drowned out by whatever the current hottest topics are
  • Those different perspectives should be more included in big topics where the forums tend to shout down anyone who disagrees with anything
  • Conversations will be slower and more thoughtful rather than pages of spam between salient points.
  • After 1 year, new members will be selected
  • The program will not provide access to unannounced game information.

Manny: Twitter Twitch

Jared: Twitter Twitch

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