Bloomberg journalist Jason Schreier in material on the publication’s website told the story of one of the lead developers of World of Warcraft Classic, Brian Birmingham, who was fired from Blizzard Entertainment for criticizing the staff rating system.
Since 2021, Blizzard has had a ranking in which managers rate their subordinates. A certain percentage of workers (5%) are required by managers to assign a special “development status” that deprives workers of some bonuses and the prospect of promotion in the near future.
“These policies encourage competition among employees, sabotage the work of others, a desire to join underperforming teams in order to be the best, and ultimately erode trust and destroy creativity.”wrote Birmingham in a letter to colleagues.
Birmingham said he and other World of Warcraft team managers have managed to sidestep the low staff rating quota for the past two years, but he was recently forced to give a staff member “development status.” Instead of subordinates, the heads of departments were forbidden to assign such a rating to themselves.
Blizzard executives justified the need for the system by citing the importance of helping the most vulnerable workers advance professionally. A spokesman for the company told Bloomberg that the assessment process involves interviews with multiple managers, which can also affect an employee’s status.
Unable to accept the current state of affairs, Birmingham decided to quit: “If this policy is removed, maybe my Blizzard can still be saved and I’ll be happy to continue working there. If they don’t quit, Blizzard Entertainment, which I want to work for, will no longer exist and I’ll have to find another job.”.
Before Birmingham sent a letter to his colleagues, he was called to Human Resources, where he was fired. The developer was asked not to make public criticism of the rating system (“We don’t want Activision executives to come and make things worse”), but he refused to shut up.
It is noteworthy that shortly after the release with a statement in his microblog spoken Birmingham itself. According to him, he was surprised to see the Bloomberg article. The publication did not contact him or request a copy of the email mentioned, but the citations were correct.
Already the former creator of World of Warcraft Classic added that employees are being deprived of their honestly earned income “deeply unfair”and the management of the parent company should be ashamed: “Hopefully Blizzard’s positive culture can take over the poison from ABK, but so far it hasn’t been able to.”.