End-of-year Blizzard Update

It’s been a busy year for Blizzard, and we’re just getting started.

by Mike Ybarra on Dec 21, 2022

Hey everyone! It’s been about a year since my last post, and with 2022 coming to an end, I felt it was a good time for an update.

2022 has been a great year for Blizzard, made possible by the hard work, creativity, and passion of everyone who works here, and the support, feedback, and joy from the players. Putting people first—employees and players—is how we’re building the foundation of the next era of Blizzard.

Environment art of the lush green Ohnahran Plains from WoW: Dragonflight

Environment art of the lush green Ohnahran Plains from World of Warcraft: Dragonflight

A lot of this work has been internal, but I hope you can see the results of it in our games: the joy and love for Azeroth in World of Warcraft: Dragonflight, the color and scale of seasonal updates in Overwatch 2, the care and respect in Wrath of the Lich King Classic and Diablo II: Resurrected, the creativity and charm in Hearthstone, and the gameplay and rich story built into Diablo Immortal. We also got to show off the chaotic glee built into Warcraft Arclight Rumble, and finally the Diablo IV team got to relish in the excitement with a recently announced June 6, 2023 launch date.

Character art of Lilith from Diablo IV

Character art of Lilith from Diablo IV

About 12 billion hours of Blizzard games were played this year, and as many as 50 million new players joined the Blizzard community*, and this would not have been possible if not for the passion from the people within Blizzard. We’re hearing from them that there is a fundamental shift happening, and it’s the thousands of people who work here who are steering this ship toward something greater than we’ve ever been—and we’ve only just begun.

Ramattra from Overwatch 2 posing with his staff in the snow

Ramattra from Overwatch 2 posing with his staff in the snow

To give some clarity on what’s happened this year, I promised in January that we would hire full-time positions to support the ongoing work of improving the culture at Blizzard.

Additionally, we’ve made several important changes to our teams:

  • Blizzard cofounder Allen Adham, Chief Design Officer: Championing game design as a discipline, helping to ensure we keep Blizzard gameplay at the forefront of the player experience.
  • Holly Longdale, Executive Producer of World of Warcraft: After leading WoW Classic, Holly now oversees all of World of Warcraft, bringing her deep MMO experience to the fore.
  • Jared Neuss, Executive Producer for Overwatch 2: Taking a holistic approach toward building a great live-service experience for this incredible universe.
  • Peiwen Yao, Executive Producer for Diablo Immortal: Leading the co-development partnership for our debut mobile-first title.
  • April McKee, Executive Producer of BlizzCon: Yes, we’re bringing BlizzCon back—more on that early next year!
  • Mike Elliott, Chief Technology Officer: A Blizzard veteran and engineering’s leading voice, overseeing technical evaluations, recommendations, and execution.
  • Dan Hay, General Manager of Survival Game: Leading the team which is infusing this genre with Blizzard magic while crafting our first new IP since Overwatch. The team has doubled in size this year and we’re looking to grow it even more in the new year!


Rebuilding the Foundations

 

While we have full-time roles dedicated to culture, culture isn’t the work of one person or team. It involves all of us every day, and it requires perspectives and insights of different experiences, backgrounds, functions, and identities to create and sustain a culture that lifts all of us up. To this end, we convened a culture team consisting of a wide array of functions across Blizzard who are helping us improve how we work, and create and sustain a culture that makes all of us better.

Alex Horley painting of the Lich King from Hearthstone's March of the Lich King expansion

Alex Horley painting of the Lich King from Hearthstone's March of the Lich King expansion

One of the other major projects this year has been taking a deep look at the mission, vision and values upon which Blizzard was built. We have been talking about how these values are interpreted and lived, how they could be improved or modernized, and everyone at Blizzard had the chance to have their voice heard in this critical work. This is a project that our employees, as well as players, will see the results of in the new year.

Warcraft Arclight Rumble mini characters in a toy-like pile

Warcraft Arclight Rumble mini characters in a toy-like pile

We’ve also made solid progress advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I): we held a successful fourth Women's Summit, we deployed DE&I-focused training across all employees, we’ve expanded self-identification options to be more inclusive, and over the past year, we increased the percentage representation of women and non-binary people within Blizzard from 22% to 25% while also increasing the percentage of employees from under-represented ethnic groups from 34% to 36%**. While this is progress, our commitment is that our focus on culture and inclusion will be a core part of our everyday efforts at Blizzard. This work will never be done. For you – our players – our hope is that you are seeing it in our games, the way we communicate, and more. We’re learning along the way, and it’s all of you who are keeping us on the right track.

Environment art of Westmarch from Diablo

Environment art of Westmarch from Diablo

We have received a lot of feedback this year, and our teams are always listening—as we grow in these areas, we have had important moments that help us learn and be better. Our players are always quick to let us know what they are thinking and feeling, and for that, I want to thank you. I’m three years into my journey at Blizzard, and not long into having the privilege of playing a small role in leading Blizzard forward. It’s inspiring to work here: every day, I learn from Blizzard and learn from you, and as we close out 2022, I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

Finally, to our wonderful teams at Blizzard: thank you. We’re on a journey together to create an amazing culture that fosters and enables creative energy and fresh thinking. Together we’re bringing Blizzard back, better than ever.

Take care this holiday season: spend time with loved ones, your favorite games, your favorite movies and books, and take the time for yourselves. We’ll be doing the same.

I’ll see you in Azeroth, Sanctuary, the tavern, and in the optimistic vision of the future!

- Mike “Qwik” Ybarra

_______

 

*New Battle.net accounts created and at least 1 Blizzard game played.

 

**This is as a percentage of non-temporary employees.  See further details in our recent announcement: https://www.activision.com/cdn/activisionblizzard/ABK-2022-Representation-Data.pdf

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