A tough period for Activision Blizzard keeps getting tougher as the video-game studio bleeds talent. The company's recent issues have suggested that it has become increasingly out of touch with fans. But with top executives continuing to leave Activision Blizzard, it seems as though there's even more going astray at the studio.
Blizzard is renowned for a number of vastly influential series, including Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, and its latest hit, Overwatch. But since its merger with Activision in 2008, the company has, in the minds of critics, leaned more and more into its corporate side - leaving players concerned for the fate of their favorite IPs. Over the past few months, Activision Blizzard has done much to upset fans - essentially axing its MOBA, Heroes of the Storm; revealing that the next entry in its Diablo franchise will be a mobile title; and even expanding the scope of its employee buyouts - but now, the departure of two key executives may point to further changes to come.
GameSpot reports that not only has CFO Spencer Neumann left in order to work at Netflix, but also Amrita Ahuja, who served as CFO since March 2018 and worked at the company for more than eight years, has left for a position with mobile payment company Square. To put this recent exodus in perspective, it was only last October that Blizzard's co-founder and president, Mike Morhaime, left the studio.
As far as creating problems for Activision Blizzard goes, it would be one thing if execs were just leaving the company - but there have also been instances of former members of the studio criticizing its evolution. In November, Diablo 2 producer Mark Kern tweeted about the Diablo Immortal announcement, opining that Blizzard's developers have "really lost touch with gamers" and "need to make an effort to connect and tear down the corporate wall." Later that month, Diablo creator David Brevik appeared on the Twitch stream of "thejunglequeen," his wife, saying that Activision was dominating Blizzard. He mentioned the company getting rid of its employee profit-sharing system, saying (from an imagined Activision Blizzard perspective), "And, so, therefore, you don’t like this very much, Mike Morhaime? Well too f—ing bad, you’re gone!" To be fair, Brevik had earlier said that he was drunk, and clarified that he was only speculating - but the damage was done.
So where does this leave Activision Blizzard? Higher-ups are leaving and the designers who built the company's reputation in the first place are lamenting its current state. It's all rather disheartening, to be sure. But there's reason for optimism, too. In 2016, Blizzard rebooted the development of Diablo 4 because the studio wasn't happy with how it was shaping up. The new version of the game is reportedly returning to the series' roots, embracing a darker tone and leaving behind the "cartooniness," as many players referred to it, of Diablo 3. Only time will tell how Diablo 4 pans out, but, when thinking about Blizzard, it might help to put faith in game developers rather than executives.