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Activision Blizzard staff reportedly bracing for layoffs(gamesindustry.biz)

100 pointsReedx posted 6 months ago139 Comments
notTyler said 6 months ago:

I don't really know if it's rose colored glasses but as a lifelong gamer it really sucks to see gaming as an industry become more and more focused around ROI rather than shipping quality games.

The latest Call of Duty and Red Dead games both shipped without microtransactions so it wouldn't affect their review scores. Call of Duty in particular has an absurd amount of them, pay to win mechanics (in Zombies), and the battle pass is so grindy that you either have to no-life or pay (more) money to get to the end. This is from a game that shipped with a 50 dollar season pass. All of this on top of the fact that since CoD is a yearly franchise anything you purchase basically disappears if you get next year's iteration. It's like, no sane game developer that loves making games enough to put up with the industry would ship a game like this. Someone ran the numbers and said we can make x$ more if we make the grind harder.

I don't want to get into the narrative that the bean counters are ruining Blizzard because I honestly don't know if it's the case. All the restructured staff from Heroes have been rumored to be working on D4. Hearthstone is hearthstone. WoW, I don't know. Overwatch is still getting regular content updates and I would expect it to go F2P soon. I think some gamers have been a tad chicken little about changes at Blizzard, but Activision is so far gone that I refuse to buy any of their games.

sl1ck731 said 6 months ago:

I think they just lost the ability to be innovative. They had some real creative minds at the helm that got replaced by "business" people. Kind of like Steve Jobs being replaced. Blizzard was based on this cool innovative stuff and when the people who lived for it were gone they had no connection to their community anymore.

In terms of calculating grind, that was the big thing with WoW when I left a month after the latest expansion dropped. It was just so clear that the rails of the theme park ride you were on were designed to milk you. I mean all games by anyone not releasing them freely are intended to make some kind of money, but once I purchase it you better be very subtle about it.

Basically all they are doing is rehashing old games now as well.

mihaifm said 6 months ago:

Blizzard games are not necessarily known for their innovation, but for their level of polish, lore and communities behind them. I mean RPGs existed before Diablo, MMOs existed before WoW, Warcraft was not the first strategy game and so on. Somehow Blizzard managed to make these representative for their genres.

The problem is they are in the same wagon with Activision which forces them into some questionable bussiness decisions, and their focus shift toward satisfying the market rather than continuing to make polished games.

It’s hard to imagine how a company that received $15 per month from 12 million WoW subscribers for 10+ years can go bankrupt, but I guess nothing lasts forever.

dba7dba said 6 months ago:

> It’s hard to imagine how a company that received $15 per month from 12 million WoW subscribers for 10+ years can go bankrupt, but I guess nothing lasts forever.

On the flip side, that may be the exact reason they are going bankrupt or facing hard time. Making $15 x a month from 12 million subscribers must have lured them into thinking it will last forever so they get sloppy, lose focus, etc.

pmart123 said 6 months ago:

> It’s hard to imagine how a company that received $15 per month from 12 million WoW subscribers for 10+ years can go bankrupt, but I guess nothing lasts forever.

I don’t think Activision is anywhere close to declaring bankruptcy? While the stocks of many gaming companies have been suffering as of late, many of them presumably rose too high from the hype surrounding esports gaming, etc.

sl1ck731 said 6 months ago:

Innovation in my context is more in appealing to the user. The mechanics. You don't have to make something new like the wheel to innovate. Look at Apple. They're called innovative all the time but have never "invented" anything from thin air. They packaged and purposed something that appealed to more people than all those pieces separately.

The games they made were unique and copied countless times by people because of a unique combination of gameplay mechanics and style.

They didn't capture the majority of their users on lore or polish. They captured them because they were fun to play.

SpaceManNabs said 6 months ago:

Warcraft was not the first strategy game, but WCIII was hugely innovative. I can't think of any RTS game with the concept of heroes before WCIII, and it was popularized by it (Star Wars: Empire at War used the concept).

It also spun off the entire MOBA period from AOS (starcraft) and DotA.

schwap said 6 months ago:

AFAIK Diablo was the first 'action' or real time combat RPG. That seems pretty innovative.

Ataraxy said 6 months ago:

That was more David Brevik's Condor that was subsequently purchased by Blizzard and named Blizzard North. They also had complete autonomy from Blizzard proper.

aasasd said 6 months ago:

I mean, if you forget earlier real-time combat RPGs like The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy Adventure / Secret of Mana, Shadowrun or The Elder Scrolls then yeah.

Andrex said 6 months ago:

Correct, but that is one example from many years ago. I think his statement overall holds water.

Retric said 6 months ago:

Grind is really difficult to get right, outside of how long it takes. They stopped publishing subscription numbers, but it’s clear WoW subscriptions have fallen dramatically over time.

Personally, the Warlords of Draenor mission grind was interesting for a little while, but completely killed my interest in the franchise. Which I think is a central issue for long running games, you can drive people away vastly easier than you can pull them back.

The long term economics of video games is therefore tough, as surviving to tomorrow often means driving people away forever.

sl1ck731 said 6 months ago:

I think there are too many competing factors for them to make a "sweet spot".

The original grind appealed to people because it was hard and there wasn't anything you could do about it. It felt like an accomplishment.

The business side of the house wants a wide net so appealing to those people alone isn't enough, except that those are their core people who have paid their salaries. The faltering I believe is in part due to trying to continually grow and appease shareholders.

CoD seems to be doing fine so big business AAA games will still live on. Blizzard might pivot to doing something like this. I just believe big business is completely incompatible with the cult-like attraction of Blizzard's original IP.

Retric said 6 months ago:

From the estimates I have seen WoW subscriber count was higher at the end of vanilla than it is today. Various forms of micro transactions make up for much of the revenue difference, but I don’t think the current version has wider appeal.

It’s hard to say when peak appeal occurred as WOTLK had peak subscriptions, but slow growth. If anything Vanilla, BC, or WOTLK was the peak appeal and it’s just been down hill after that. Though their are plenty of ways to slice and dice the numbers.

dba7dba said 6 months ago:

> They had some real creative minds at the helm that got replaced by "business" people.

IBM >> Engineers at helm replaced by MBA. Goes down the drain. Plus many others I'm sure.

I think we can go on and on about how bean counters or business types or lawyers replace engineers at the helm, and end up destroying tech companies that were at the top.

I really wonder, why? Does it have to be that way?

bluegreyred said 6 months ago:

There's this "toner heads" interview with Jobs, you've probably seen it but it fascinates me every time.


dba7dba said 6 months ago:

Mr. Jobs was so eloquent in that interview.

But, lol. The irony.

He appoints Tim Cook to be his successor, who is NOT a product person but a supply chain specialist.

He definitely is not a product person. The same product team under Mr. Jobs may still be there, but I'd think most would agree Apple's been putting out new products that are somewhat lacking...

chongli said 6 months ago:

I'm sure Steve would have loved to put the product guy (Jony Ive) in charge but I bet Ive didn't want the job. This is why people like Steve Jobs are so rare: product guys who want to run the company and deal with all of the business stuff instead of rolling up their sleeves every day.

People criticize Steve Jobs for the fact that he was never an engineer. But he was never a suit either. He was more like Santa Claus: running around his workshop and getting so excited about all the new toys the elves come up with. He could play with your demo for a few minutes and tell you what was wrong with it, from the perspective of a non-engineer, and thus give you feedback on things that engineers take for granted.

chenglou said 6 months ago:

People buy the Apple hardware but stay for the software. Scott Forstall might have been considered but he didn’t play well with a few other key design and hardware people at the time. In an alternative world where SF is CEO, you’d end up with an iPhone X that looks like iPhone 4/5 and might have had weaker hardware but largely compensated by better software (as demonstrated by iOS 12, early iPods and macs, etc.). Then with time, the skeumorphism would dial down and meet iOS 7’s extreme minimalism in the middle, like current iOSes are doing anyway. SF knew machine learning, so Siri would definitely have been his focus too.

There’s a niche of folks who are waiting for SF to make a come back the same way SJ did =)

shados said 6 months ago:

With a few exceptions when studios were much smaller, it was always about maximizing ROI. They just didn't have good delivery mechanisms at the time (yay cartridges!), and they didn't know what they know today (DLC and microtransactions work). The gaming industry is extremely cutthroat, has extreme competition, skyrocketing costs (for AAA-type games at least), and a model where "you make 9 games that lose money with the hope the 10th will make bank", causing companies to try and figuring out how to salvage the first 9.

And it's hard to blame them: imagine being a company that pours your entire soul and being into a PC/console game with 100 hours of gameplay, beautiful graphics, awesome voice acting, tons of replay value and depth...just to see a stupid mobile game rakes in 10x the money from people trying to get their "waifu" out of a loot box. You can only do this so many times before you cave in.

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

The gaming industry is extremely cutthroat, has extreme competition, skyrocketing costs (for AAA-type games at least), and a model where "you make 9 games that lose money with the hope the 10th will make bank", causing companies to try and figuring out how to salvage the first 9.

The historical media industry playbook is to export your development risk to an ecosystem of smaller "independent" creators, who become the farm leagues for the big players. The big players then co-opt the independent successes. This worked in music for awhile. I'm not so sure it's working that well for movies, for the same reasons you cite for games.

And it's hard to blame them: imagine being a company that pours your entire soul and being into a PC/console game with 100 hours of gameplay, beautiful graphics, awesome voice acting, tons of replay value and depth...just to see a stupid mobile game rakes in 10x the money from people trying to get their "waifu" out of a loot box.

It's not black & white. The AAA games with the "beautiful graphics, awesome voice acting, tons of replay value and depth" have their own flaws, due to the level of investment involved and the resulting risk aversion.

shados said 6 months ago:

Yeah for sure. I suppose the point i was trying to make is that these days, game quality and revenue have virtually no correlation.

Marketing pretty much matters more (unless you pull a No Man Sky), but that's not new. These days though, monetization frequently means vastly inferior games make way, way more money. If it was just a little...or even a factor, the "art" would prevail for some devs. But when it's orders of magnitude, it gets really, really hard to ignore. Some still do. Bless them.

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

These days though, monetization frequently means vastly inferior games make way, way more money.

To an algorithm, or a metric, even miserable feeling variable schedule or reward addiction looks like "engagement." So if there's "engagement" and money, why should companies do anything different?


So how is it that games which have "art" don't come along, charge a bit less money, and win in the marketplace? I guess the argument can be made that they do, but they're in the minority. I wonder if there aren't also generational issues? Maybe the environment of today, where even young people have tablets and smartphones is just a different one?

shados said 6 months ago:

Possible! But there's also the whole "gambling is addicting" thing. Some of these games pray on the vulnerable to make their dough.

Alternatively, it also leverages the rich vs poor divide. In gacha games for example, you'll have a very small minority of players pouring as much as several thousand dollars into a game, while the majority plays for free. The game still ends up coming out ahead than if they sold at an affordable price and had everyone paying it instead.

pcwalton said 6 months ago:

Precisely. It's about economic survival, not a cash grab.

roymurdock said 6 months ago:

the games industry is shifting to the casino whale poaching mindset, and taking advantage of borderline gambling addiction through loot boxes/crates to get kids to (steal their parent's money sometimes) and buy shit in the places they hang out with other kids/socialize/spend a lot of time watching professional gamers play

makes me very sad as someone who grew up with amazing RTS and the first generations of online/LAN games where $50 would buy you hundreds of hours of entertainment sans microtransactions

there are still some amazing games coming out graphics and storywise, it just sucks to see names i once respected trading in their reputation for cash - blizzard, bioware (EA), and obsidian chief among them

eric-hu said 6 months ago:

I'm pretty happy with what Blizzard has done for the StarCraft 2 esports community.

I'm actively trying to get better at it. I got more into following the professional scene over the last year, and I just purchased a War Chest in game this past weekend. It's a skin pack for my units, but 25% of the sale goes towards the winter WCS prize pool for professional StarCraft 2. I bought it to support the top tier competitors.

I also enjoy a game with a good single player mode, but StarCraft is deep mental challenge. There is no pay to win. I have a consistent pool of opponents near my skill level to play against, and the game is balanced enough* that I should be able to climb the ladder with any race.

* I think players will generally whine about balance in the matchups they struggle with. I do too, but this is actually part of the challenge of improving at the game.

roymurdock said 6 months ago:

my game of choice was WC3, i still watch it played at high levels and it's pretty amazing how well designed and entertaining the game is 15 years on with the 3 unique race systems, beautiful tilesets/models, fantastic music, etc. props to blizzard for keeping SC2/WC3 balanced and trying to bring in a new generation of fans with the graphical refresh

but lets be real about the resources expended on these old games and developing their successors vs. the new generation of money sinks. it's a simple ROI calculation and unless you have an old school game fanatic running the show, i know where you're going to put your money to sustain/grow the studio

eric-hu said 6 months ago:

For StarCraft 2, I think they're also doing a good job keeping it alive and relevant with the WCS brand. The collective prize pool for all tournaments is several million dollars. You're right that this is likely a drop in the bucket for Blizzard. I appreciate it anyways, since it's not likely to be a huge money maker for them.

wsc981 said 6 months ago:

4 races: horde, humans, undead & night elves.

roymurdock said 6 months ago:

you're right, 4 races for WC3. switched into SC2 thinking for a moment

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

makes me very sad as someone who grew up with amazing RTS and the first generations of online/LAN games

What did you find magical about those RTS? (I say this as someone who happens to have an online multiplayer engine which is best suited to RTS.)

roymurdock said 6 months ago:

per my comment below > it's pretty amazing how well designed and entertaining the game is 15 years on with the 3 unique race systems, beautiful tilesets/models, fantastic music, etc.

add to that: great lore borrowed from mythology/made up, fantastic voice acting, champion units with extra abilities and item usage, complicated (but not overly) resource management, competitive online community, modding ability with a full map editor/scripting engine. plus a lot of interesting/funny people play the game all over the world which always spices things up. and continuous tweaks to improve the games balance

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

What would you think of a multiplayer RTS, but where there is a vast ongoing struggle between various kingdoms and empires of the 4 races? (Persistent, vast MMO shared world.) The player doesn't command any side or any kingdom in its entirely, but can act as a hero unit and can command forces in his/her vicinity. (Basically, they're all like a kind of King Arthur who can reappear in a time of need.) The empires and kingdoms are entirely managed by AI and follow a cycle, where they reach a peak of their power (a morale stat follows a peaking curve) then decline and die.

The player works to increase his/her own legend by winning battles. The purpose of this design is to create an extremely complex and immersive world with depth of gameplay, but still enable players to "dip in" for a half hour session every once in awhile.

AnIdiotOnTheNet said 6 months ago:

I'll tell you what I think about it: I miss games having LAN support instead of expecting me to connect to a server that won't exist in 15 years or will be nigh unusable when I go to a LAN party somewhere with a crap connection.

That's what I miss most from 90s RTSs.

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

The MMO system I'm developing can run the entire server cluster as 3 coroutines in a single process. (goroutines, actually) This is meant to facilitate local development, but it would be quite easy to harness this to distribute a game that automatically has a local LAN mode.

roymurdock said 6 months ago:

sounds a lot like Eve online set in medieval times. Guild Wars had a similar system where you could choose a faction and battle other factions to win reputation etc but was nowhere as dynamic as you're describing. also kind of sounds like Dynasty Warriors which kicked ass but followed a more traditional set path of battles

all of these are great games and a blend of them would be awesome if you had a clear vision for how to combine them, but would also probably be a massive undertaking

side note, i wouldn't consider anything a true RTS unless it has some type of resource gathering and tech/unit building element to it

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

sounds a lot like Eve online set in medieval times.

Except that the empires ebbing and flowing wouldn't be due to content writing and large groups of players. (At least at first.)

i wouldn't consider anything a true RTS unless it has some type of resource gathering and tech/unit building element to it

It would have that, but in the form of unit recruitment or negotiating with and giving advice to nearby lords. (Perhaps local lords could grant you use of their smithies, craftspeople, and peasants for support/logistical tasks.)

AnIdiotOnTheNet said 6 months ago:

> i wouldn't consider anything a true RTS unless it has some type of resource gathering and tech/unit building element to it

Then you'd be discounting the Myth series, which means you are objectively incorrect.

roymurdock said 6 months ago:

This is the first line in the Myth gameplay Wikipedia:

All three Myth games play very similarly. They are real-time tactics games, and as such, unlike the gameplay in real-time strategy games, the player does not engage in resource micromanagement or economic macromanagement, does not construct a base or buildings, and does not gradually build up their army by acquiring resources and researching new technologies.[9] Instead, each level begins with the player's army already assembled and ready for combat

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

Is base construction a requirement, so long as the player can engage in resource micromanagement or economic macromanagement?

AnIdiotOnTheNet said 6 months ago:

....ok, fair enough.

notTyler said 6 months ago:

Obsidian is doing fine and releasing relatively great if buggy games. Unless you're counting them getting bought by Microsoft.

AndrewKemendo said 6 months ago:

I think it is rosy retrospection.

Remember the unending supply of totally trash PC games that you could by at Incredible Universe in the giant boxes? Or the grab bag of games that were 15 on a CD for $15? I mean pretty much everything Head Games [1] put out was a rebaked version of the same terrible 3D polygon mess with trash controls, but for whatever was hot at the time.

It's always been ROI driven, with the major hits keeping the studios alive and tiny game studios just trying to get anything out that they could.

[1] https://www.mobygames.com/company/head-games-publishing-inc

hoorayimhelping said 6 months ago:

I totally agree about it being rosy nostalgia.

Think of Chuck-E-Cheeses and arcades in the 90s. There would be a few arcade games with interesting stories and mechanics and new innovations, and there would be ticket games where you would literally pay to win tickets to buy crap that is worthless, but is fun to acquire.

notTyler said 6 months ago:

Fair point. I was more talking about MTX and DLC than shovelware, but shovelware's definitely been around forever. Curiously I don't think it's as much of a problem in the core gaming sector these days due to the prevalence of reviewing, but there's a ton of it in the mobile sector.

amyjess said 6 months ago:

It's sad because when you do DLC right, it can actually prevent layoffs. This infographic sums it up pretty well: https://www.extremetech.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/DLCWo...

A good example of how this works is Paradox Development Studio. Paradox does a great job creating a constant stream of what are basically expansion packs, accompanied by free patches for those who are uninterested in what the expansions have to offer (and you don't have to buy the expansions linearly, either; if you want the third expansion but not the first two, you can just buy that one).

I'm not saying that the way they design their expansions is perfect (EU4 in particular has taken a lot of flak for missteps of this kind), but the basic model is fantastic, and when done right, it only enhances the experience.

burk96 said 6 months ago:

Wow this changed my perspective on (most) Day 1 DLC. I'm surprised that this isn't shared more by devs who ship Day 1 DLC as it's a very rational explanation for its existence. Thank you for sharing this.

EpicEng said 6 months ago:

Another good example is GGG with Path of Exile. Great game with a ton of content, completely funded by cosmetic MTX's. I wish DIII had gone this route and I hope DIV does (if we get a DIV).

hnick said 6 months ago:

I recently started PoE and I think it's Free to Play done right. Though I wouldn't say it's completely cosmetic, you will be severely limited without paid stash tabs (especially currency) but I happily made that purchase after just a week.

schnevets said 6 months ago:

Activision was able to successfully forecast a lot of today's gaming trends. When they merged with Blizzard, they saw a company that was succeeding on all fronts - e-sports (with Starcraft), subscriptions and microtransactions (in World of Warcraft), and plenty of other side-benefits (like successful expansion packs, worldwide appeal, recycled game mechanics a la DOTA...)

Since then, they have been trying to mix these elements together to make one Long Island Iced Tea of e-sport-microtransaction-lootbox-culturally significant franchise. I think Overwatch was the big bet for that, and even though I love what they did it would be impossible for that game to meet all of Activisions expectations.

jcfrei said 6 months ago:

The business and revenue models are just changing, similar to the music industry: The main source of income is no longer the one-time sale of a game. Just like most big artists don't earn much money with album sales. Instead big game franchises rely on recurrent small revenue streams through loot boxes, season passes, etc. Big artists rely on licensing fees from streaming services and ticket sales for concerts.

Both of these revenue sources are not viable for relatively unknown artists - they get supported either via donations (like patreon) or traditional album sales (lots of "indie" artists started selling vinyl again). I think the analogy holds for games as well. Smaller studios still live from one time sales on steam, GoG, etc. So the business model only really changes at the top and I don't feel like we as consumers are any worse off - quite the contrary actually: Playing a new game with friends required quite an investment in the late 90s, ie. everybody had to spend 50-90 bucks for the new Age of Empires. Nowadays everybody can try out Fortnite and those who don't like it simply uninstall it.

duxup said 6 months ago:

Gaming is such a wild west of an industry.

I hold out hope that the indie scene remains healthy and such, but the rise and fall of large static developers putting out quality products over time does seem questionable.

The king is dead, long live the king.

markbnj said 6 months ago:

Creative products like films, games, music, etc. involve significant risk. You can put tens of millions into a thing and find out that the public just didn't like your vision. Boom, money gone. Onto the next thing. Corporations that get to a certain size find it really difficult to stomach such risk internally. Perhaps it is less size and more a certain style of governance, or lack of a visionary leader with sufficient pull. I don't know, but the problem seems endemic to large corporations, and it's been observed and commented on over and over. For contrast look at the indie game scene on Steam. Many of these titles will never make money, but you can't fault the creativity.

stcredzero said 6 months ago:

I don't really know if it's rose colored glasses but as a lifelong gamer it really sucks to see gaming as an industry become more and more focused around ROI rather than shipping quality games.

Isn't this the way of all media? What are movie franchise sequels but a way of reducing risk? That's just focus around ROI. Isn't this happening to news media? Everything devolves towards classical behaviorism and lower levels of psychology. Clickbait, outrage, and variable schedule of reward. Shiny, pretty pictures.

If we take the analogy farther, isn't the hope in alternative media? This is how it always worked in the past.

mikepurvis said 6 months ago:

For more on the Call of Duty situation in particular, see Skill Up's video on deleting his previously positive review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HL8HfoCzCB0

The thing that sends him over the edge is a red dot targeting reticle which you have to pay real money to unlock. The whole piece is excellent though; well worth the watch.

pcwalton said 6 months ago:

Virtually everything cited in this thread boils down to simple economics. The production costs for "AAA" titles have skyrocketed, driven by consumer demand for more content and better graphics. The game industry has the economics of the blockbuster-driven entertainment industry—massive capital expenditure in the hopes of eking out some kind of a profit, with flops easily leading to financial ruin. This is in contrast to the tech industry, which yields enormous profits on very little investment. Unlike Blizzard, Google doesn't need an army of artists to keep dollars coming out of the AdWords faucet.

I have a hard time understanding anger directed at game studios for doing what they need to do to survive. It's one of the toughest tech-related industries there is.

Iwan-Zotow said 6 months ago:

> Unlike Blizzard, Google doesn't need an army of artists to keep dollars coming out of the AdWords faucet

hahaha, look at google capex grows


pcwalton said 6 months ago:

Most of Google's increased expenditure is due to headcount increases in efforts to use that enormous advertising profit to expand into other markets. Google could lay off everyone not working on search or ads tomorrow, watch its expenditures crater, and still be making enormous profits.

Needless to say, neither Blizzard nor any other game studio has anywhere near this kind of luxury.

cloakandswagger said 6 months ago:

Salary and wages would be recorded as OpEx, not CapEx, correct?

I would imagine the CapEx growth is from data centers and equipment for GCP

JohnJamesRambo said 6 months ago:

Are you sure it isn’t just massive waste and cost inefficiencies with all the money funneled to the top?

paraxisi said 6 months ago:

A large portion of the people I've talked to over the past 5-6 years have the same sort of feelings about Blizzard games. It's no longer about balance and great game design. They're basically coasting on the reputation they had from the Starcraft / Warcraft era.

kruczek said 6 months ago:

I don't think it's rose colored glasses, but neither do I think gaming industry is becoming more and more focused around ROI. AAA titles developed by large companies certainly in most cases are like that, but the gaming industry is much bigger than a few corporations releasing titles with the speed of machine gun.

There are hundreds of indie developers and I believe this is where most of the innovation can be found. In that regard it is the same as in the "good old days", before the arrival of AAA corporations.

hnick said 6 months ago:

Enterprise software has come to gaming. It'll stay for the same reason, mostly non-enthusiasts who follow trends and the occasional inspirational creation that's just not possible without a massive team and financing.

Personally, I mostly stick to indie games. After 30 years gaming it's where most of the surprises are, and I value novelty over polish in general.

Gibbon1 said 6 months ago:

> bean counters are ruining Blizzard

Side topic but having known a bunch of bean counters (accountants), they aren't the ones doing this[1], the blame lies squarely with MBA's, business schools, and the finance industry.

[1] Unlike your typical CEO, corporate accountants are in it for the long game and they also see all the shit being pulled by upper management.

Waterluvian said 6 months ago:

It has never been a better era to be a gamer. We are looking in the wrong place. Compare gaming of our childhood with today's indie scene. And then add on top of that all the AAA selection we have.

There's such an overabundance of great games today. You just have to not focus on the wrong part.

vertline3 said 6 months ago:

Hearthstone has been slowly weakening the classic cards (equality 2 Mana nerf) this pushes the player into going to sets that cycle out. I think it makes it more difficult for new or returning players though, so their base will decline.

hajile said 6 months ago:

I think the biggest issue is that it is a collectible card game that isn't collectible. Hearthstone is constantly changing their cards retroactively. This means the card you paid a bunch of money for can be retroactively changed into something that is worthless.

In contrast, with a game like MTG, even banned cards can still retain a decent amount their value to collectors and casual players. You get what you pay for and it's yours forever to do with as you'd like. Why pay tons of money for ever-changing pieces of digital paper you don't even actually own?

r00fus said 6 months ago:

Well they need to keep things exciting and changing. Do you agree with some of the other early HS critiques that they should have never have a "classic" set so Standard (equivalent to MtG Type2) play would constantly vary?

Balance would be tough (9 classes vs. 5 colors in MtG) but Blizz could do it.

vertline3 said 6 months ago:

I like Kibler's rotation idea, you have classics that come in and out of play. I think Baku and Genn were kind of broken and needed the changes.

minikites said 6 months ago:

>I don't really know if it's rose colored glasses but as a lifelong gamer it really sucks to see gaming as an industry become more and more focused around ROI rather than shipping quality games.

This isn't limited to video games, it's the logical end result of the capitalist drive for profits at the expense of everything else. Look at recent criticisms of Apple for the same idea.

johnisgood said 6 months ago:

I recommend https://mises.org/library/left-right-and-state-0

It mentions what you call "capitalist drive for profits" (search for junk, etc.). To sum up for you: it is the will of people, has nothing to do with the system that allows their dreams or ideas to come true, other than the fact that it allows it. What is the alternative? Destroy everything that you may think we should not have?

ben_jones said 6 months ago:

The monopolistic triple AAA games industry requires large hit titles to satisfy their stock holders. Whether the monetization model is MTX/cosmetics, tradition sales, or the newer subscription services, games will continue to be reduced to a lowest common denominator in order to pump user numbers. Kind of reminds me of another industry...

zrobotics said 6 months ago:

Gaming is the farthest it has ever been from monopolized, though. The indy scene is very healthy, releasing a game on steam is so easy that the real problem is getting noticed amongst the flood of releases. It's also far easier to publish to a console than in the PS1 days.

I understand your frustration with the large studio's monetization models, but the solution is to just ignore them. I was dumb enough to buy Fallout 76, but I treated that as an object lesson: even developers I 'trust' are capable of releasing absolute trash. Plus, the backlog of interesting games on my steam wishlist meant I could have very easily put the 60 bucks into 2-3 good games that aren't trying to push lootboxes or microtransactions.

AJ007 said 6 months ago:

Electronic game dev right now is the furthest from monopoly almost any industry can be.

The big AAA developers just keep rolling out rehashes of their old games as long as the revenue exceeds developments costs. Very similar model to super hero movies. Eventually it won’t work anymore. They know it, thus the emphasis on trying to milk every last dollar out of the players.

trophycase said 6 months ago:

Monopolistic? If people haven't realized now that major studios prey on gaming addiction, overprioritize "storyline" and "graphics" instead of gameplay, and recycle the same mechanics, then there is basically no hope for these people. At a certain point you just have to take responsibility and stop giving them your money.

EpicEng said 6 months ago:

In what ways is the industry monopolistic? I can think of a couple of cases (e.g. EA and the football license), but not many.

bhouston said 6 months ago:

A lot of the air in the games industry is being sucked out by Fortnite. Indirectly this is the cause of these layouts. Fortnite directly completes against Overwatch and it is taking away time that gamers would otherwise spent on other A/B titles.

nerdjon said 6 months ago:

I feel like blaming Fortnite for this is a stretch.

When there has just been a noticeable decrease in quality of Blizzard games since they have merged.

- Heroes tried to to cash in on the loot box craze and from what I have seen has been very negative

- Diablo has basically been ignored except for their mobile app (which went on to hurt Blizzard's reputation and just strengthen a competing game, Path of Exile)

On the Activision side, there were reports that a good portion of this could be tied to support staff for Destiny 2 no longer being needed.

Overwatch seems to actually be doing pretty well, and I would not be surprised if it was the only team not affected by layoffs.

ocdtrekkie said 6 months ago:

Whoa there. Heroes of the Storm has, by far, hands down, the best loot box model in the industry. I'm still irritated Overwatch doesn't use it yet. And please, tell everyone you know in the game industry to steal the monetization model from Heroes. If Heroes is a failure, it's because it doesn't behave badly to try to make you spend money.

Heroes hands out loot boxes like candy, I'd say you'll get three or four times as many as Overwatch. And then Heroes also adds a reroll mechanic, where for a trivial gold (currency from doing matches and in-game quests) amount, you can reroll the box up to three times. And as with Overwatch, of course, loot boxes are cosmetics only (except for the very rare hero unlock, which most people aren't getting via loot boxes anyways).

I've rarely been dissatisfied with a Heroes lootbox because I can reroll it until it's good, and I've always gotten so many Heroes lootboxes I've never even felt the drive to buy any. And then in addition to the ability to use your duplicate currency to forge the exact cosmetics you want, Heroes is going to re-add direct cash purchase for all skins, so you don't need to buy loot boxes to buy skins. I've bought a number of skins over the years, but never paid for a loot box.

Probably the "best" way to spend money on Heroes if you want to (though you have really no reason you have to), is you can get stim packs to increase your XP (no in-game benefit) and gold generation.

bliblah said 6 months ago:

As a Dota 2 player I don't understand how anyone is supposed to take that game seriously when you have to Pay to unlock heroes when the game tried to appeal to hard core competitive players (at least with a ranked ladder and the big tournament it had until recently). I am very surprised that League also gets away with this but I guess it has more to do with how these games play and who in your circle of friends play them than anything else.

ocdtrekkie said 6 months ago:

You actually can't unlock heroes with cash (unless you were to roll a LOT of lootboxes). If you're doing daily quests, you'll get enough gold to unlock heroes every week or so. This is one case where you'll be more successful unlocking by actually playing than spending money.

nerdjon said 6 months ago:

For a loot box it is ok, but they still changed their business model completely and I know several people who are upset about it.

Unless I am mistaken, they removed the ability to buy them outright (with cash, not with in game currency) outside of Loot Boxes.

ocdtrekkie said 6 months ago:

They did transition from real currency to gems for purchases like most other games already have done since the get-go, though my understanding is that the reason for that is so that Heroes can give you that currency for free without invoking various monetary laws. (So you can earn, very slowly, the ability to buy stuff that's "real money only" over time.) At least in the case of US Dollars, 1 gem is 1 cent, though, so the real value isn't obfuscated in any way.

They also took out, for the most part, the ability to straight up buy skins (rather than rolling lootboxes for them), but they are reintroducing that very soon (edit: tomorrow!), it was just announced: https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/heroes/t/heroes-of-the-sto...

nerdjon said 6 months ago:

You could argue that they would not be adding this feature if there were not enough people upset about the change to begin with.

Yes they brought it along the lines of many other games (however that argument is how we got Battlefront 2's loot box disaster). But it is still a major change in how the game works post launch. Something that could very realistically piss off a lot of people.

The timing of this however.

- 2.0 launched about a year ago

- 3 or 4 months ago they announced a shift of resources away from Heroes

- Now they are adding in a feature back to the game

That isn't actually showing that Heroes necessarily did anything right when it came to adding loot boxes.

ocdtrekkie said 6 months ago:

You could argue that, but it would be a bad argument. :) People could not get cosmetics for free at all prior to HotS 2.0, so everyone got more stuff, for free, when HotS 2.0 launched. Originally, skins were solely relegated to people who forked over cash, for each and every item they wanted.

The loot box mechanics in Heroes are, indeed, the most pleasant way one can possibly receive loot boxes, hands down. If you are going to do loot boxes, you should do loot boxes the way Heroes does loot boxes.

But I do not want to buy loot boxes, the limited direct buy options actually limited how much I was spending on Heroes, as I want to buy items. And thankfully, they are going to reintroduce that option, while still maintaining the best loot box system ever made, which gives you delightful free loot boxes at extremely frequent intervals. So I can spend money to buy what I want, and still enjoy the free loot.

And perhaps that's the model loot boxes will hopefully someday be moved to, once the paid gambling aspect is illegal: Just give players free stuff in loot boxes, and let them buy the stuff they really want.

jrockway said 6 months ago:

I've never been dissatisfied by Overwatch loot boxes. If I play an average amount I usually get every item. If I don't play I don't get any items. Seems fair.

ocdtrekkie said 6 months ago:

I'm not trying to say Overwatch's model is bad, but that Heroes is better. I often want a couple of specific skins from a given event, and it's nearly impossible to get them on luck, and they're exceptionally cost-prohibitive via gold (especially given Overwatch's policy to triple the cost of new event skins). Additionally, countless Overwatch lootboxes are just disappointing, especially if you've been playing a while, and often see three out of four items in a box being duplicates and scoring maybe a new voice line. This often leads to a response of saying "I got crud" when opening a lootbox.

The reroll mechanic in Heroes is really really nice, I've never been really "disappointed" with a loot box open, and that's after playing it pretty regularly since beta.

jrockway said 6 months ago:

Overwatch does give you a lot of duplicates. It's better than Hearthstone where you get 4 duplicate commons and a duplicate rare every time you open a pack. Yay, 30 dust! Only 1570 more until I can get that legendary I want!

hajile said 6 months ago:

I'd note that duplicates in Overwatch pay out half their value, so find 2 legendary things you already have and you can buy any one of your choice that you didn't have.

jrockway said 6 months ago:

Indeed. Fortnite and Overwatch are very different types of games, though certainly some skills transfer between them.

I do wonder about the software engineering practices at Blizzard. One release fixes a bug, the next release adds it back. Hearthstone very clearly has zero unit tests, because so much easily testable stuff is just broken. I think it's always been that way, though; the "Blizzard polish" is about art and sound, the code is very average in quality. (That may be the norm for the game industry, though.)

Having said that, I doubt Blizzard is quite ready to give up on Overwatch. They are probably going to make quite a bit of money off of Overwatch League. But the balance changes they implement for the pro players is off-putting to casuals, so I doubt many new players will be buying the game. (Mercy and D.va were always appealing to players new to FPSes because they can contribute immediately to their team with strategy rather than raw mechanics... but both heroes have suffered nerf after nerf after nerf because OWL viewers really want to see raw aim, not someone holding up a defense matrix to save their team from that aim. I see the game in 3 years being 6 Widowmakers vs. 6 Widowmakers, because that's what pro players really want.)

Hearthstone is in a pretty good place. I feel like they've stepped up their balancing a lot, and their competitor Artifact seems to have fallen flat on its face. I am guessing that their team won't see many cuts. They should hire some software engineers in test, though.

hw said 6 months ago:

I don't think it's a stretch to blame Fortnite. It's completely changed the gaming landscape, and there's only so much gaming dollars and attention out there and a lot of it is going to Fortnite (and the new Apex Legends) that would otherwise have gone into games like CoD / BF / etc. Just take a look at the vast differences in viewers on Twitch for the different games, as well as EA and Take Two's (and likely Activision's out tomorrow) recent earnings calls which noted Fortnite as a concern for them.

bliblah said 6 months ago:

I think it has more to do with the fact that Activision doesn't have any games that aren't Call of Duty. I was looking at their website and it's just Spyro Remastered and Crash Remastered. Destiny 1 and 2 were huge commercial successes until the players ended up hating the games and they cut Bungie loose which is really concerning if I were an investor.

Blizzard meanwhile just maintains their flagship products but some are no longer growing like WoW (over a decade old but man it's time to let go) and Hearthstone (Magic Arena is making a huge push for the more competitive crowd, Gwent is struggling but is releasing new content, Artifact was a bust but valve has money to burn and no investors to please). Don't get me wrong, these games are the market leaders but they aren't growing anymore which is what investors worry about. Overwatch seems very promising but I think OWL is overvalued with franchise fees going from $20 million to $60 million in a year while CSGO; Dota 2 and League tournaments have a greater amount of viewership at a fraction of the cost.

Diablo Mobile is pretty much DOA from a fan perspective but mobile games can make a ton of money especially when targeting the asian market which they have a lot of experience in. And the WarCraft 3 remake is a crowd pleaser but I can't imagine it selling like hotcakes, but I could be wrong.

Again, If I were an investor I would jump ship and probably invest in another publisher.

EpicEng said 6 months ago:

Fortnite is eating their (and many others') lunch, yes, but Activision/Blizzard is a very different entity than what most pre-Activision fans remember. Blizzard is still massively profitable... but it's not enough. Profits are the sole driving force now and I think we're going to see a rapid decline in quality from Blizzard (we have already to some extent.)

Don't get me wrong, I get the realities at play here, but Blizzard was a better company (for consumers) before Activision and when Activision was acting more as a partner than a corporate overlord. Many of the stories coming out from ex employees are disheartening. The Diablo fiasco was disheartening, as was the swift cancellation of the competitive HoS league.

Blizzard always sold themselves as a "by gamers, for gamers" company, and they were for a long time. That doesn't appear to be the case any longer.

Techonomicon said 6 months ago:

Damn, that's one bold statement with pretty much no proof that is the case.

Activision / Blizzard obviously realizes that fortnite is doing well, and could ramp up development on some new future competitor, why would fortnite be a reason to cause layoffs? They could react in a slew of ways to combat the issue, layoffs simply put them in a position where they can't attack.

There are layoffs in the game industry because there are always layoffs in the game industry. Ramp up when starting a game, hiring through building it, firing after it's out and stable and at a cadence when you don't need all those silly game makers to just keep the ball rolling.

EpicEng said 6 months ago:

>There are layoffs in the game industry because there are always layoffs in the game industry. Ramp up when starting a game, hiring through building it, firing after it's out and stable and at a cadence when you don't need all those silly game makers to just keep the ball rolling.

If you've been paying attention then you know there is far more than ramping up and back down at play right now in Blizzard.

zamalek said 6 months ago:

> Indirectly this is the cause of these layouts.

"Don't you have phones?"

Blizzard has been struggling to connect with fans for longer than Fortnite co-op has been a thing. There are some prior employees who have been quite vocal about the situation: they simply don't know to continue printing money without upsetting their fans. The merger with Activision was a very strong signal: how does it make any sense that a beloved publisher that is known for innovative games team up with a publisher who pushes out the same games every year? The straw is a mobile game while everyone was waiting for the next PC (and potentially console) launch.

"The intent is to provide players with a sense of pride and accomplishment for unlocking different heroes."

Then consider EA, everyone's pet hate (for good reason). Here's a company that has been testing gamers in terms of micro-transactions for years. With Apex, not only have they earned a lot of trust by following Epic's lead, they have put out a title that is genuinely fun and innovative [in the space]. They are listening to the market.

> A lot of the air in the games industry is being sucked out by Fortnite.

There are currently 317K viewers of Apex on Twitch and 108K Fortnite. This clearly isn't true. There's plenty of air to be had. I'm venturing off-topic here, but the problem with Overwatch is that it's team-based competitive; that attracts a certain type of player-base. If you don't play the ladder (in a year I had about 6 hours total in that toxic hell hole), good luck finding games without quitters.

If Blizzard put out a decent Diablo 4, or Starcraft 3, I can almost guarantee they'd find a lot of room to breathe, but a mobile ARPG/HnS was printing money in Asia, so we have that.

ben_jones said 6 months ago:

Ironically Apex Legends just released as a direct Fortnite competitor and is doing really well post-launch, winning over a large portion of the Twitch community and attracting non-BR players to the game mode.

hnick said 6 months ago:

Fortnite has funded my free copies of Subnautica and Axiom Verge from the Epic store so that's a win for me.

protoster said 6 months ago:

I feel like I'm the only one who made peace with Blizzard dying as we knew it shortly after Activision acquisition. They sold out, this happens all the time. Everyone else seems to be clinging on to "old Blizzard" like it's an ex they can't leave behind.

wsc981 said 6 months ago:

I’m with you, but at the same time happy Blizzard will release WoW Classic this summer. Some good old quality gaming.

protoster said 6 months ago:

Activision will release WoW classic, not Blizzard.

Taylor_OD said 6 months ago:

It sucks that hard working people lose their job due to decisions made by the money people. Micro transactions are destroying the industry. Unfinished games being shipped are destroying the industry. Shitty online play is destroying the industry. These things are not up to a developer.

I havnt bought a brand new game in the last few years. Instead I just wait and buy the finished version a year later for half the price that included all the DLC on steam. If the game shipped in a good state and DLC became a thing of the past I might think about buying games at full price again. But it doesnt look like that's going to happen anytime soon.

izzydata said 6 months ago:

This might have been inevitable despite their mistakes. I get the feeling that giant AAA titles are becoming less economical compared to the cheaper to produce and cheaper to buy indie titles that come out every single day.

There will always be a place for massive games, but gambling with 100 million dollars is much more difficult than 100 thousand dollars. Smaller studios can much more quickly try out new ideas without potential losses.

ilovecaching said 6 months ago:

Question for game developers, has innovation been stifled by the the bar being raised for making a AAA game? I assume making a game like Spyro or Diablo took a lot of time and effort, but I'm wondering if the increasing demand for high end graphics and extremely rich environments has raised the bar too high?

rm_-rf_slash said 6 months ago:

Absolutely. Graphics get gamers. The lesson learned by Nintendo with the Wii’s prev-gen graphics has not been forgotten by the games industry. When crispy photorealistic graphics set the standard, you either have to expensively match the industry or go cartoonish to smooth over the rough edges.

The golden era of gaming was during the PS2. Not only did it have unprecedented market penetration, but the hardware was both advanced enough to make decent 3D games while not being so powerful that a few deep-pocketed studios could make stunning graphics that blew the completion out of the water.

Those days are long gone. On one end of the spectrum you have the indie market, which uses retro designs to make up for the lack of asset designers (think Rogue Legacy or Shovel Knight), or you have the massive AAA developers that dominate ad-spaces.

Anything in between (~PS2 graphics) isn’t taken seriously. So it’s either indie or AAA. No middle ground anymore.

wilsonnb3 said 6 months ago:

And yet Nintendo hasn’t tried to compete with the next gen graphics since the GameCube and is doing quite well.

The wii outsold the Xbox 360 and the PS3. The DS sold 160 million to the PSP’s 80 million, the 3DS another 75 million to the PS Vitas 10 million.

szggzs27 said 6 months ago:

Yes, graphics may hamper the gameplay experience, but only if you don't have a good enough machine to run the game. If you mean that gaming companies only focus on the `looks` and not the actual gameplay, then I agree.

Games are designed to grab as much cash from kids and adults alike, with things like loot boxes, microtransactions, season passes. There is little focus on developing a community, and diminishing focus on shipping an actually good product. Today's games by Blizzard can not even hold a candle to names like Diablo 2, Warcraft 3 or even Starcraft.

andrewmcwatters said 6 months ago:

Yes, and it's a linear effort that compounds making asset development in particular much more expensive. For instance, if you have 300 major assets in a game, and one of them takes a sizable percentage of time more to create, this compounds for the entire collection of assets, making your development that much more expensive.

ashelmire said 6 months ago:

They mention the poor sales of the latest Destiny 2 expansion.

I enjoyed Destiny 2. It's a great game. But I didn't have much reason to keep playing after finishing the storyline. I did, for a time, continue playing and beating the various events and multiplayer variants. But once you run through each event once, there's not much point to grinding. It's not like grinding crucible is really that interesting, compared to Overwatch where there's far more variety in gameplay.

And the first expansion felt pretty... empty. It had what, a few hours of (very repetitive) gameplay for $35? That feels like a bad deal. I get it, there's a lot of visual and aesthetic content. But that doesn't keep gamers coming back. Buying a second expansion would just feel bad after that.

coding123 said 6 months ago:

I play ESO. Seems like I am constantly chatting with people how to do things and how it's different than WoW. I think the big thing that changed over the 4/5 years it took to finally break into that audience was stability and content and the sharding system. With how ESO places everyone in a megaserver, a lot of WoW fans actually had to back step from time to time from their originally chosen shard because they would be the only one online. And on top of all that, it's free to play after you buy the base game.

___alt said 6 months ago:

From what I see, Blizzard is slowly rolling out everything they need to eventually get rid of realms entirely as separate technical entities.

Cross-realms features are everywhere, the concept of PvP servers is no more, and if they manage to upgrade the auction house system to something more global, realms will be mere namespaces and players will be able to seamlessly play with all other players from their region.

MrMember said 6 months ago:

Cross-realm guilds would be a big one. I was in a mythic progression raiding guild during Legion and recruiting was always a mess. I didn't play on one of the "top" servers for raiding and there just weren't enough quality players to go around. You'd have a handful of solid guilds at the top and everyone else would struggle to complete a tier before the next tier came out. And then in the middle of the expansion when player counts drop it got even more difficult to recruit. If you made the mistake of creating all your characters on a "dead" server you'd be looking at several hundred dollars at least to transfer them all. Cross-realm guilds are a long time coming.

___alt said 6 months ago:

Yes, I didn't mention it in my post because I think the auction house and the underlying economy issues are going to be the hardest part in making everything cross-realm, but cross-realms guilds are highly desirable. Your arguments are on point.

xkgihu7r said 6 months ago:

BfA is absolute crap. I don't know who is to blame, but it really is the worst expansion. WoW does not deserve to die like this. I suspect Blizzard believes the game can't be redeemed so it's in life support.

Thankfully, Classic is around the corner.

swarnie_ said 6 months ago:

I'm sure i can go back to 2007 and find a few posts every expansion proclaiming a new low has been reached.

Maybe a game built around grind which withholds content until fixed dates in an effort to stretch the run-time out just isn't as popular as it was 10 years ago. Players have a load more options ("Services") competing for their attention now.

trophycase said 6 months ago:

Vanilla was the pinnacle of questing and total game experience, absolutely no question about that. TBC had a noticeable drop in questing quality that began the descent into the "series of tubes" it is now. Thankfully TBC added arena and great raiding. WoTLK was solid with good raids but Cataclysm was truly atrocious.

Zimahl said 6 months ago:

You're going to see a lot of one-offs saying they are having a great time, but this is truly a low in the history of WoW. I've played since launch and this is only the second expansion where I've canceled my subscription (the other being Cata).

To try not to be just another personal anecdote, the major WoW streamers like Asmongold, Preach, and Bellular have all made scathing reviews of the BfA expansion and it's systems. The WoW subreddit is very vocal about how bad the expansion is. People are finding it hard to find a reason to log in.

qudat said 6 months ago:

Currently playing on warmane (private server, wotlk) and having a great time. Not worried about leveling up, just re-living the nostalgia for the game when I played it. I think classic is going to be pretty amazing and I'd consider playing it again. Although, I'm not entirely sure there's a point when private servers are doing it and for free.

Jhndb said 6 months ago:

As a RuneScape player I'm astonished at how well Jagex have done to revive the old RS community by bringing back the old version of the game, and then polling in new features.

Hopefully Blizzard can take notes from this with WoW classic

kakarot said 6 months ago:

Most of my friends who played RS in their youth are now in their mid-20s playing OSRS.

It's just astonishing how well they've managed to reclaim their market.

I know a couple maxers who still devote 10-20 hours a week to RS. I can't fathom how they find new ways to entertain themselves, but they do. It never gets old for them. I never got into RS but by all accounts they've perfected a genre.

swarnie_ said 6 months ago:

People give Jagex a lot of abuse for treating Reddit and Twitter as a support channel, personally i think its great community engagement.

It could work for Blizzard too, they share a customer base with similar outlooks and mentality... to put it politely.

livueta said 6 months ago:

It's great community engagement for certain values of both "community" and "engagement". Personally, I find that (largely as a function of the consensus-manufacturing effects of Reddit) it leads to a distressing loss of diversity in the ways the game is enjoyed. In short, you get a feedback loop. A blob of players vocally supports a particular paradigm of gameplay (call it the PvM/ironman/slayer industrial complex), so they talk about it on Reddit. It helps that this approach is attractive to newcomers and inexperienced returners. The developer notes this and produces content accordingly. More players are attracted/kept around by this additional content, leading to requests for more of the same. Rinse and repeat.

As a result, the more fringe communities (which tend to be correlated both with emergent forms of gameplay and experience with the game; skilling and PvP being the big examples) get starved or actively harmed by the course of development. As a result, those players leave or become less engaged, furthering the cycle and leaving the game a less-interesting place.

Back in the day I never thought I'd whine about Jagex becoming better at listening. I guess it's sort of similar to issues that can be had with A/B testing - when engagement is the name of the game and you have easy access to knobs and feedback, you can end up overfitting. In the terminology of this thread, the bean-counter approach makes you long for the touch of the auteur.

disclaimer: 20k-hour multiply maxed get-off-my-lawn grump with several axes to grind

ubersoldat2k7 said 6 months ago:

A F2P BR set on WoW, that might do the trick ;-)

___alt said 6 months ago:

Or Heroes of the Storm BR.

wpdev_63 said 6 months ago:

Blizzard is one of the most competent developers out there. They understand the fundamental game mechanics to a competitive degree (starcraft 2, overwatch, los) and their games are incredibly polished.

Right now the game market is getting eaten by these f2p games(fortnite, lol, etc) and they haven't found a space to expand into. If there's one place I feel blizzard could innovate in would be in a star citizen like game. Imagine an epic mmo game that had the expanse of no man's sky, the economy of eve online, and the shooter mechanics of overwatch. It would be an massive undertaking but there's definitely a massive market there as you can see with star citizen.

ianleeclark said 6 months ago:

> They understand the fundamental game mechanics to a competitive degree (starcraft 2, overwatch, los) and their games are incredibly

You and I know two completely different companies then. World of Warcraft BFA is, anecdotally, causing players to hemorrhage, and the only reason I have to report this anecdotally is because Blizzard stopped reporting their subscriber numbers after hemorrhaging players for boring and bad content. BFA was incredibly buggy and not even a half-finished game when released.

Their development process feels spreadsheet-driven and concerned primarily with keeping their subcount high through tedious content which takes long amounts of time, rather than keeping their subcount high with quality content that keeps the playerbase engaged.

PopsiclePete said 6 months ago:

Here I was, eagerly ready to drop $60 on a new Diablo, but no, I have to endure cartoony multiplayer "Battle Royale" crap, because all gamers are spastic high schoolers I guess? The only way Blizzard can sink lower is if their next game is a multi-player only zombie survival + shooter + crafting DayZ wanna be. Because it's what all the kids are raving about on twitch?

Screw it, I'll give my money to indie studios, they can still deliver.

lapnitnelav said 6 months ago:

Looks like being / going "mobile" is the new thing @ Blizzard.

seattle_spring said 6 months ago:

I mean... don't you guy have phones?

Shivetya said 6 months ago:

Many of us know the meme, the important take from it is how tone deaf Activision and Blizzard have been with regards to their fans across different franchises and platforms.

The don't you guys have phones meme is direct response to the Blizzcon announcement that the next Diablo was going to be a mobile game not even produced by Blizzard. The reaction of the product team at Blizzard really came off as aghast followed by incredulous that the fans reacted so negatively and harshly as a whole. They so missed the boat with what the fans were expecting it makes you wonder, just who were they listening too?

Activision's problem was taking the loot box and in game transaction model too far and embedding too deeply into franchises that were not accustomed to it if not openly hostile to it. that many of the purchases looked like or were portrayed as pay to win did not help.

Where is the industry going? I certainly don't know and not knowing I don't have an opinion to offer on that subject. The opinion I do offer is that perhaps it doesn't know where its fans think it should be going and some franchises are at cult levels of fandom

duskwuff said 6 months ago:

> The don't you guys have phones meme is direct response to the Blizzcon announcement that the next Diablo was going to be a mobile game not even produced by Blizzard.

I mean, it isn't just a meme. A Blizzard representative literally said "Do you guys not have phones?" during a Q&A session, after someone asked whether the new Diablo game would be available on PC.


Fans were going to be disappointed either way, but this dismissive response is what really set off the reaction.

jrockway said 6 months ago:

In some sense, this is reasonable. If you want people to spend money on your game, preventing that by requiring they first buy a $1500 PC seems sub-optmial when everyone does in fact have a phone.

For everyone that won't play mobile games (like me), there are probably 100 people that will. And they only have $5 for an add-on, not $60 for the entire game. That's the economic reality these days. Computer ownership is becoming an obscure niche thing.

Sohcahtoa82 said 6 months ago:

> If you want people to spend money on your game, preventing that by requiring they first buy a $1500 PC seems sub-optmial when everyone does in fact have a phone.

This is a strange way to look at it considering that Blizzard is primarily a PC game developer, and the extreme majority of their customers are PC gamers. They will already have the PC.

Blizzard is a AAA developer. Mobile games don't exactly have a reputation for being AAA quality. PC gamers often scoff at mobile gaming, and the Blizzard fan base has been hoping for a Diablo 4, so for them to announce a mobile Diablo feels like a slap in the face. It feels like they're abandoning their core audience in favor of the mobile world, which is frequently ridden with microtransactions.

Dirlewanger said 6 months ago:

From a business sense the shift is unsurprising. Yet how they handled the reveal was a seismic PR disaster that could have been avoided. You don't announce a new product designed for the casual crowd (and by extension, the start of a shift toward focusing on said market) at a convention mostly attended (and closely watched online) by the hardcore crowd. Blizzard would have been wise to fire their PR firm after this.

dageshi said 6 months ago:

That's where the money is, they won't stay a big publisher if they ignore it.

fritzball said 6 months ago:

Maybe they should learn to code

sctb said 6 months ago:

Let's please comment thoughtfully and informatively and not like this.


sadris said 6 months ago:

Turns out hiring people based on things other than merit results in your quality of product dropping as the quality of employees drop. It's a shame.