Blizzard Producer blames Kotick mismanagement for Overwatch 2 delays

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With Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick seemingly heading towards the exit door following an agreed buyout by Microsoft, Blizzard Producer Tracy Kennedy took to Twitter to firmly pin the blame for Overwatch 2’s development delays on mismanagement by Kotick and his leadership team.

Kennedy was tweeting in response to Kotick’s GamesBeat interview, in which he cited the delays to Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV as the main reasons for Activision Blizzard’s plummeting stock price through late 2021 – totally nothing to do with the sexual harassment and toxic workplace culture he reportedly turned a blind eye to for years, right?

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She said, “Bobby, tell everyone about the random projects for [Overwatch 1] you all would shove on us. The team would do [overtime], only for them to get cancelled and for months of [Overwatch 2 development] to have been lost. Or how almost entire teams are turning over and citing you as the reason. Don’t be shy.

“Oh wait, that’s right you hide behind scapegoats because you’re a coward, my mistake. The entire world will remember you to be a greedy joke, and there’s nothing you can do to change that. We outlasted you and we won. Byeee 👋”

Her tweet feels a little jumbled, referring to both the original Overwatch and its in-development sequel. The original game came after the cancelled MMORPG project Titan, fairly quickly going from the earliest concept stages in 2013 to a full release in mid-2016. Kennedy doesn’t seem to be talking about the original game’s development, but rather the juggling that the Overwatch team has had to do between maintaining the original game and developing the sequel Overwatch 2.

Other staff also had a few thoughts on the matter, Kotick quoted as previously saying “There are no expectations for a date, just make it great”, that he’s throwing developers under the bus, and that his interview is merely a deflection tactic.

Announced at Blizzcon in November 2019, Blizzard revealed the Overwatch 2 would expand upon the original game instead of fully replace it. All copies of the original game will be updated to have the same heroes, maps, PvP modes and balance changes coming to Overwatch 2, with the sequel then having a PvE co-op mode as the main draw for people to buy.

The development of Overwatch 2 has understandably impacted the volume of continued support that the original game has received, though it was still somewhat surprising when both Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV were delayed from a 2022 release window to 2023 at the earliest. Of course, there are obvious extenuating circumstances here, with COVID-19 shifting development to working from home, but the middle of 2021 and the wave of allegations that hit Activision and Blizzard for toxic workplace culture and harassment also had an impact. Certainly morale will have been affected and the allegations led to Overwatch character McCree being renamed, because his namesake was implicated in the lawsuit and infamous “Cosby Suite” incidents. There’s also ongoing strikes on the Activision side of the company, unionisation efforts and there have been persistent calls for Kotick to step down as CEO. All of this, and Kennedy’s assertion that Kotick and his management team were sending the developers down wasteful rabbit holes, has led to a high turnover rate as people seek employment elsewhere.

You have to wonder what development dead ends Kennedy is referring to, though perhaps one that did see the light of day was a shift to cross-platform multiplayer and a requirement for Battle.net logins.

While Kotick might not come out of the multitude of scandals smelling like roses, I’m not sure that Kennedy can really claim that the employees have won over Kotick. For one thing, he will remain as CEO until a Microsoft buyout is approved, and if it is he will receive nearly $400 million for the stocks he personally holds. Even if it isn’t and he steps down, he’ll still have stocks worth several hundred million. Add that to the hundreds of millions that he’s regularly received as bonuses during his tenure and I’m sure he’ll be dabbing away any tears with $100 bills.

Source: Twitter

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1 Comment

  1. Kotick isn’t even the Darth Vader of gaming – he’s Emperor Palpatine.

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