All is not well at Blizzard Entertainment. It has been a bad month for the embattled video game giant. In early April of 2016 Blizzard’s Jeff “Tigole” Kaplan in charge of their upcoming Overwatch game decided to immediately remove a certain pose of a playable character named Tracer deemed “offensive” by one person on the beta forums and in the process alienated the Overwatch beta community and angered thousands of Blizzard fans with his knee-jerk decision. Soon after he realized his mistake but the damage was done.
Later in the week the heavy hand of Blizzard’s legal department in France pounded it’s fist and sent a cease and desist letter that shut down a private non-profit volunteer WoW server that had a total of 800,000 registered users and 150,000 active players. WoW players around the world — many who didn’t even play on this server — are devastated by the sheer callousness and meanness of Blizzard’s actions.
Both of these incidents are a public relations disasters for Blizzard and part of a troubling pattern with the video game behemoth. In recent years the Irvine corporation has become tone deaf and has put political correctness and corporate ambition over the interests of the fans, gamers and geeks that they claim to love so much.
Blizzard is not the company they used to be. What we have is now Blizzard 2.0. Success has transformed them from a company of passionate, fanatical, unapologetic male gamers that made exceptional games for gamers into an cowardly, sanitized, politically correct corporation. This didn’t happen overnight. Something has changed at Blizzard. At recent BlizzCons there’s been an increasingly conspicuous aura of condescension, dismissiveness and thinly veiled contempt that Blizzard developers have exhibited toward their fans.
Those of us who have been critiquing Blizzard for years have been chronicling the danger signs along the way and predicted this outcome. The chickens of metric and profit driven game design and unchecked hubris have finally come home to roost.
Blizzard Submits to the Theocracy of Political Correctness
In recent years the video game industry has come under attack from a cult of leftist activists, modern day witch-hunters and attention seeking charlatans known as social justice warriors. Funded by billionaires such as George Soros and Paul Singer and others, they are an offshoot of left-wing ideology that has metastasized into something called the regressive left.
Progressivsm is virtual religion complete with virtues, sins, saints, and sinners minus the church steeples. Their modus operandi is to find a new minority group to emancipate and champion to use as a cudgel to brand the non-compliant majority of non-believers as bigots. If you disagree with them they cover themselves in the mantle of victim hood and accuse you of harassment.
Claiming to speak for the oppressed, the adherents of this belief system routinely demand that their so-called “progressive” values should be reflected in all aspects of life and even beyond into entertainment media such as films, TV, books and video games. The game worlds, narratives and characters of video games that you know and love are all a ripe target for these fanatics and most aren’t even gamers.
In the old days they were waiting to be offended. Now, that’s not good enough as these busybodies like to monitor political events, social media, websites, videos, TV shows, films, magazines and public opinion for any shred of offence. For them, finding any hint of non-compliance and being able to gleefully shout “SEXISM!” and “RACISM!” gives them a narcotic like high and is the raison d’etre of their lives.
No one can deny that these activists are on a relentless jihad to impose their morals and values upon everyone else. To them, tolerance is a one-way street. Thanks to spineless corporations who have also adopted this pernicious ideology, those brave souls that do not submit to these self-appointed arbiters of morality can be driven from their jobs and lose their livelihoods. The disciples of this cruel substitute faith are a growing danger to our society and our culture.
The war these progressives are waging is not only on entertainment media but on Western society as a whole. John Hayward at Breitbart.com sums it up brilliantly:
The progressives’ goal is to humiliate and marginalize the majority—to make normal people feel abnormal, to be alone, to be afraid to dissent from what appears to be an overwhelming, media-magnified, Google-approved, Hollywood-polished, Obama-confirmed, irresistible consensus. As any competent military strategist can tell you, numbers count for less than morale. A demoralized majority can be subjugated by an activist minority when it refuses to fight.
It was only a matter of time before they would come after Blizzard and when it did happen, they were only too happy to capitulate and genuflect to this totalitarian ideology. Let’s look at brief history of Blizzard’s recent pattern of pandering to political correctness before and including the Overwatch Tracer incident.
Incident 1: Attack of the Social Justice Warriors
The first major incident was when Mike Morhaime received a cleverly crafted open letter from a feminist gamer who essentially complained that Blizzard Creative Director at the time Rob Pardo was not respectful enough of the need for diversity in Blizzard games during a question and answer session at MIT in Boston on May 7, 2014. Rob Pardo is no dummy, he was the mastermind behind WoW and was named one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 People in 2006. Pardo was smart enough to see the writing on the wall and departed Blizzard later that year.
Mike Morhaime essentially agreed with her and promised to find ways to make Blizzard games more inclusive. When you hear the work inclusion and diversity these are code words used by social justice bullies to force gender identity politics and progressive ideology into the content of videos games.
I agree with Rob Pardo’s candid answers in the video. Real world political agendas, gender/sexual identity and racial representation have never been the point of Blizzard video games nor is it Blizzard’s responsibility to promote ideology to their gamers.
[alert-note]Imagine if J.R.R Tolkien were alive and he just published his classic literature The Lord of the Rings; the progressives, the social justice bullies and the Twitter hashtag heroes would be screaming that there were not enough people of color, females, homosexuals or transgenders in the classic story and he would have most certainly lost his job as an Oxford professor of linguistics and summarily drummed out of academia.[/alert-note]
Incident 2: Blizzard Donates to GaymerX Convention
Fearing more incoming attacks from the regressive left, in August of 2014 Blizzard donated $10,0000 to GaymerX a sexual identity special interest group convention. This donation bought them a few months of protection from future attacks from the the powerful and well-funded LGBT lobby and social justice warriors who have complained there is not enough gay characters in Blizzard games.
As an aside, this story was covered by WoWInsider and the reaction of WoW fans was so negative that the management of WoWInsider disabled comments section completely. The original article is now archived with comments still disabled on Engadget.
Incident: 3: Blizzard Confirms Gay Characters for Overwatch at BlizzCon
Blizzard Watch reported that Blizzard reveals that there will be gay characters included for Overwatch. Were fans demanding this? If so where is the evidence? No, this was Blizzard capitulating to the social justice warriors. But as we will learn later on in the article, hundreds of thousands of fans opinions don’t seem to count for much when compared with the demands of a vocal minority. George Orwell was right when he said in his classic Animal Farm: all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.
When Blizzard fans start complaining, the politically correct moderators at Blizzard Watch (which is a reincarnated version of WoWInsider) predictably shut down the comments yet again.
Incident 4: The Ambush of Alex Afrasiabi at BlizzCon
Later that year at a BlizzCon interview with Blizzpro’s Chris Arnone, Creative Director for World of Warcraft Alex “Furor” Afrasiabi continued the new policy of Blizzard submission to the progressive religion:
Chris Arnone: There’s been some backlash about the lack of diversity and some issues. What steps have you all taken in Warlords since then to address those concerns that the community had?
Alex Afrasiabi: We’re crucially aware and we’re making legitimate efforts to add more diversity too. It’s an ongoing process and it’s something we’re sensitive to. And we are trying to do better.
Chris Arnone: I think that’s the best thing to do.
Alex Afrasiabi: I think so too.
Chris Arnone: Gaming for a long time has sort of wallowed in non-diversity. It’s been a boys club and it’s great to see you all moving in that direction and being aware of it and other creative people.
Alex Afrasiabi: Yeah, absolutely.
(Note: inaudible comments removed)
I almost felt sorry for Alex in this interview as he was clearly caught off guard and visibly sullen as he was verbally sucker punched by a gotcha question from a social justice warrior journalist. The question itself was factually wrong. I believe that the backlash was more a result from Morhaime’s decision to pander to a feminist and not the issues brought up in the letter from the feminist. Arnone then attempted to manufacture consensus by inferring that the “community” as a whole made those concerns which is false; it was one person not the entire community. This is just more evidence of a culture of advocacy journalism that has become endemic in the video game industry.
Incident 5: Mike Morhaime’s 2015 BlizzCon Keynote Speech
At BlizzCon 2015 Mike Morhaime seemed to reference the GamerGate controversy in his opening speech. This was an opportunity for Morhaime to be bold, direct and courageous and stand up for gamers and gamer culture that had been under relentless attack in recent months by a cabal of corrupt journalists and video game developers who declared “gamers are dead” but instead his comments were so infused with generalities, ambiguities, coded language and devoid of specifics that they ended up being trite and meaningless.
Incident 6: the Tracer Capitulation
The recent Tracer incident has been reported and debated extensively on the Internet. But here’s my take: nobody disputes Blizzard’s right to change artwork. The problem is *why* they changed it and Blizzard’s obsequiousness.
Here’s the initial thread posted by the complainer, here’s Kaplan’s infamous response:
We’ll replace the pose. We want *everyone* to feel strong and heroic in our community. The last thing we want to do is make someone feel uncomfortable, under-appreciated or misrepresented.
Apologies and we’ll continue to try to do better.
Apologizing for creating art that nobody had a problem with until one — yes one — person complained?!? Where is your sense of pride in your work and the work of your fellow employees? Why do you capitulate to the smallest of complaints but ignore the majority of Blizzard fans?
What is the most perplexing and infuriating about Blizzard’s recent habit of capitalization is that for years Blizzard has shown a pattern of rarely heeding the concerns of their fans. No reasoned argument or logic could ever convince or dissuade them from altering their course as they looked down at the great unwashed masses from their ivory towers. Perhaps that’s what made Blizzard so unique in the industry in that they did whatever the hell they wanted and they never apologized for it.
Now they will apologize and grovel for the even the smallest of sins against the new progressive religion.
In Defense of Blizzard Entertainment
Although I strenuously disagree with many of Blizzard’s design philosophies and their recent behavior, I wholeheartedly defend Blizzard for the specious charge that they do not have enough diversity in their products.
Seeing Afrasiabi agree with the Arnone in the video is troubling and heart-breaking. Instead, he should have boldly and proudly stood up for Blizzard and their accomplishments. WoW has been one of the most diverse entertainment products ever created in human history. Show me a video game that has showcased more races, humanoids and non-humanoids, lands, civilizations and cultures than WoW? What other video game has been translated into more languages than WoW?
The actual diversity of what Blizzard offers with WoW does not stop there. You can choose either male or female avatars with a myriad of facial features and skin tones and other characteristics. More importantly, it is up to YOU the player to define who your character is, how they behave, what they believe and who they interact with and not Blizzard. If you want to play a gay elf then go for it. If you want to play a trans-gendered dwarf then by all means knock yourself out. No one is stopping you from doing so. Your virtual life is what you make it and that speaks volumes about the transformative power and liberating nature of virtual worlds.
MMORPGs give their players the ultimate freedom and personal autonomy to escape their real life personas and reinvent themselves as avatars. This is called role-playing. In fact WoW players have more freedom and choices available to them then millions of people who are currently living in repressive countries in the real world. Instead of attacking Blizzard, people should be applauding Blizzard. But the truth is that any kind of progress and equality is never enough for the social justice warrior, they always want more. The “revolution” must never be allowed to stop.
I contend that the charge that there is not enough diversity in Blizzard games is patently and demonstrably false.
Additionally, you as a human being do not have the right to transfer your real life grievances and victim status into your avatar in a fantasy game world. One of the great things about MMORPGs is that everyone starts off equal. It’s up to you to play and progress your avatar the way you see fit. I believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. You don’t get special rights as a minority or oppressed class in a video game. Anyone who believes that this kind of thinking is rational, appropriate or healthy is just wrong and should not be taken seriously.
If social justice warriors spent less time complaining about imaginary characters in a video game and more time actually helping real people around the world who are true victims of actual bigotry and intolerance this world would be a far better world.
My Take on Indoctrination Versus Freedom of Expression in Video Games
The video game industry needs to adopt some principles that protect their right to express their creativity and safeguard their artistic integrity. Here are some that I have devised:
No video game company should ever allow themselves to be bullied, coerced, compelled, cajoled or forced to create anything that they do not want to.
No video game company should ever allow themselves to be bullied, coerced, compelled, cajoled or forced to simulate, represent or recreate real world demographics with regard to race, gender, creed, sexual orientation or gender identity into their video games.
No video game company should ever allow themselves to be bullied coerced, compelled, cajoled or forced into including political, religious or other ideologies into their video games with the intent of indoctrinating, proselytizing and propagandizing the consumers of the video game.
Video game developers such as artists, writers, designers, producers should all have the freedom and the right to create worlds, places, peoples, characters, stories and lore that are free from outside political or ideological interference.
The act of artistic expression is a fundamental and intrinsic human right that must not be tampered with, modified, curtailed or restricted in any way by any person, group or government.
Self-censorship is the ultimate goal of the social justice warrior and it is the most insidious and dangerous kind of censorship. They are using a strategy of fear and intimidation to achieve it. These people need to be called out and exposed for danger they are to our society.
The Chilly Climate of Fear
From the events of the past year, there seems to be a climate of fear at Blizzard. They are not terrified of thoughtful design critiques or the input from their millions of fans. They are terrified that a tiny but powerful, well-funded minority of the population — the progressives, social justice warriors and philanthropist billionaires — will come after them, bully them and lower their stock prices by tarnishing their brand. This is how things work in an America that is now being ruled by a theocracy of political correctness. Corporations are deathly afraid of any bad publicity and will do anything and say anything to avoid incurring the wrath of this religious cult and their accomplices in media, government and academia.
Yet Blizzard does not seem to fear their fans, rather they fear power of the regressive left and shower them with apologies at every opportunity. This is how crazy things are in today’s world that corporations are more afraid of special interest groups than their own customers. We see this every day in America where corporations are capitulating to this new religion of progressivism which buys them immunization from the bullies. This coercion is repugnant and is a form ideological extortion. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em and don’t forget to give them a lot of cash.
Not every video game company is cowardly and submissive. A Polish video game company CD Projekt Red the makers of the insanely popular and award winning The Witcher series were attacked by the usual suspects in the progressive media for not having enough “people of color” in a fantasy northern European setting. They stood firm and did not waver in their beliefs and the video game community rallied around them. If only Blizzard had a tiny fraction of the intestinal fortitude of a company like CD Projekt Red.
What Can We as Blizzard Fans and Concerned Gamers Do?
If we do not stand up and take action, the video games we know and love will end up being sanitized and turned into propaganda in the very near future. What is going on at Blizzard is going on at most big video game companies. So what can we do?
- Realize that you are not alone. There are millions of gamers like you out there that are worried about what is going in the video game industry and how activists are trying to have the video games you love altered and infused with propaganda.
- Stop purchasing video games from companies that knowingly infuse their games with propaganda. Hitting them in the pocket book is the only language they understand. Vote with your dollars.
- Educate yourself on what is going on. Find news sources, websites, news groups and websites that tell you the truth. A great resource for the informed gamer who cares about freedom in gaming and artistic integrity is the Kotaku in Action sub-Reddit. Learn all about GamerGate. I have some links on my website that can get you up to speed on what happened and how gamers united and won a major victory against the social justice bullies and the forces of political correctness.
- Evaluate arguments based on their merits and not on feelings, emotion or popular sentiment. Learn about logical fallacies and how to deduce the truth by using reason and logic. Be skeptical and question everything including what you read on this website. Be an independent thinker and don’t fall into the trap of group-think.
- Do not trust the video game media. Most of them are highly politicized, have a pro-social justice agenda and have been feeding you propaganda for years.
- Do not trust Wikipedia. This website one of the most insidious outlets for progressive propaganda in the world today. Their entry on Gamergate is one-sided and pure propaganda.
- Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. Exercise your precious right to freedom of speech. The social justice warriors are hoping you will be silent, don’t be. Share your opinions on social media and on discussion forums. Start your own blog or YouTube channel and speak out. Be calm and reasonable. Don’t use personal attacks.
- Contact the video game companies that make the video games you play directly via email. Most of them have Facebook pages, Twitter pages, YouTube pages. Tell them you want to keep politics and propaganda out of video games.
Lastly, speaking your mind and being courageous is not easy. The social justice bullies will do everything they can to try to tear you down, don’t let them win. They may call you a sexist, a racist and a bigot or whatever because they have no arguments; all they can do is throw labels around and hope you will cower in fear. Don’t let them win.
You can put your head in the sand and hope that this tyranny goes away or you can take action and make a difference. This choice is yours.
Here’s a famous quote that is a comfort in these trying times:
You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.
[alert-note]Additional research: Learn all you can about the roots of political correctness which are Cultural Marxism and the schemes of the Frankfurt School. If you do, your eyes will be opened up and you’ll know all you need to know about the current culture war that is ravaging our civilization and what it’s ultimate goals are. This is pretty heavy stuff but you owe it to yourself to be an informed citizen.[/alert-note]
A Personal Note
I do not relish writing articles about politics on this site and I try not to burden my readers with my political beliefs. This site has always been about my love of MMORPGs and game design. But now that politics has invaded the realm of video games and MMOs and I feel duty bound to defend my beloved pastime with all the intellectual vigor at my disposal.
I believe that all most gamers really want is the autonomy to escape for few brief minutes each day into their game worlds and have fun. We play video games because they are an oasis and a sanctuary from the trials and tribulations of daily living. All we want is one small portion of our existence where we can be free to enjoy what we want to do without someone shoving ideology and propaganda down our throats. Is that too much to ask?
We video gamers have to draw a line in the sand that is sacred and inviolable. We must not allow non-gamers and activists to change the video games that we love and treasure. If gamers stand together will will be a force to be reckoned with and video game companies will have no choice but to start listening.
The Nostalrius Legacy Server Fiasco
In early April of 2016, Blizzard also decided to threaten the operators of a non-profit, volunteer WoW emulated legacy server called Nostalrius with a shutdown and it worked. Much like how the Empire in Star Wars obliterated the planet of Alderaan and its millions of inhabitants in one act of planetary genocide, the innocent enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of WoW players was similarly terminated and snuffed out. This action by Blizzard has made news all across the video game spectrum. Even the BBC has covered it.
The free to play Nostalrius server was a labor of love for the creators and a virtual home for close to a million players. Even the name Nostalrius — a clever amalgam of the world nostalgia and a pseudo WoW dragon name — was a homage and faithful to the genius of classic WoW. This was a WoW server that authentically emulated the original WoW released in 2004. There were 800,000 registered users with 150,000 active accounts.
For years loyal WoW fans have been begging Blizzard to create legacy servers but they have not listened because they know best. Disgusted by the banal and shallow game play of the current versions of WoW: Warlords of Draenor, these WoW devotees had no place else to go but to create their own server. Now that their enjoyment of classic WoW has been taken away from them, it is highly doubtful that any of them would ever subscribe to a Blizzard product again.
No one can deny Blizzard’s right to project their intellectual property but just because you *can* do something, doesn’t mean you should do something.
One loyal fan WoW and Nostalrius fan decided to speak out. His YouTube video has been viewed by 2.4 million people and is well worth watching to experience the heartbreak of what happened:
This action by Blizzard is so baffling and mean-spirited that one of the lead developers of vanilla WoW Mark Kern felt compelled to speak out. He signed a petition and urged Blizzard head Mike Morhaime to offer legacy servers to their fans. Here’s his comment on the Change.org petition and I believe everyone that cares about the MMO genre should sign it:
I was the team lead for vanilla WoW (@grummz on twitter to see that its really me). People have been asking for my thoughts on the Nostalrius servers.
After giving it a lot of thought, I feel Blizzard could have found a way to support these significant fan efforts to bring back vanilla servers, rather than resorting to scary legal tactics. Blizzard, these gamers are not your enemy, they are some of your greatest supporters. Hire them, but them out. Almost 900,000 players say they want to see this. Don’t ignore them. Don’t tell them “You think you do, but you don’t” and instead tell them “we love you guys and we want to thank you for your fandom.” My suggestions:
1) You say you lost the original source for vanilla, so use Nostalrius’ version.
2) Hire the team that did it and let them run/support the service under the Blizzard banner.
3) Add cloud based support so people can spin up private legacy servers on Bnet, chose an expansion, and play with their friends.
4) Profit. 🙂
Mike, I helped build this game for you, I hope you’ll hear me out. Support these fans and dedicated gamers.
Well said Mr. Kern!
Make Azeroth Great Again!
Well Mark Kern has gone on to make an open video directly for Mike Morhaime and Blizzard on the Nostalrius debacle:
As I was finishing up this article, news broke that J. Allen Brack finally replied to the Nostalrius controversy on the official WoW EU forums. Brack is the same guy who lectured a questioner at BlizzCon a few years ago and exuded a level of dismissiveness that I have rarely seen in the industry before. To paraphrase Brack: the answer is NO. There will be no unofficial or official classic WoW servers coming to WoW. Reasons given boil down to the following:
- We must protect our IP
- It’s too hard
- It’s too expensive
Reason 1: We Must Protect Our IP Rebuttal
Blizzard could have easily licensed their IP or made a special arrangement which completely removes the need for IP protection. This is already happening in the industry according to Mark Kern with older MMOs. As more evidence of this, SOE and Daybreak games signed an informal agreement with the management of Project 1999 emulated EverQuest servers to allow them to offer non-profit severs to classic EQ fans. The truth is: Blizzard cares more about their precious IP than their fans. Now the whole world knows where your priorities are.
Reason 2: It’s Too Hard Rebuttal
The dedicated, unpaid staff of the Nostalrius server created a wonder of the MMO world by recreating classic vanilla WoW. It was a labor of love, created by volunteers for the fans that truly love WoW. It’s not hard when you have genuine love and authentic passion — something in short supply in the frozen ivory towers in Irvine. Blizzard you could learn a lot from these people.
When a billion-dollar company like Blizzard really wants to do something, like make a self-indulgent video series about motorcycles with a tenuous connection to their IP they always find a way. But not this time. This was a wonderful opportunity to give something back to the community of fans that love your game but you blew it.
Reason 3: It’s Too Expensive Rebuttal
For a company that has made untold billions over the years from WoW it’s shameful that they could not give their fans something back by allowing servers like these to exist either unofficially or officially.
We keep hearing from Blizzard about how “passionate” they are about their games and the people that love their games. I think’s all spin. If they were truly passionate they would find a way to keep the fans happy. They have no trouble throwing away untold millions of dollars on their failed next gen MMO products like Titan but can’t seem to find the wherewithal to allow or create classic servers.
The fact is that the current woeful state of WoW came about because Blizzard stopped listening to it’s fans and instead only cared about the sounds of cash registers ringing and the closing bell on Wall Street ringing as the prices of their stock rose. The fans always knew that WoW was being dumbed down but Blizzard chose not to listen.
The heartless termination of the enjoyment of hundreds of thousands of Blizzard fans playing on Nostalrious will go down as a day of infamy in MMO history.
Nostalrius. Never forget. R.I.P.
The Disneyfication of Blizzard Entertainment
How did things ever get this bad at Blizzard?
I believe the problems started when Activision acquired Blizzard in 2008 and it became part of a publicly traded company. Blizzard went from being a cool company of gamers to being a full blown politically correct American corporation. In the process, Blizzard sold their souls and became more about making money and less about making great games.
Most modern corporations and tech giants are like cults. If you work there you must adopt their world view, you must believe their dogma, you must submit to their corporate culture. Despite their edgy sloganeering — remember Apple’s “Think Different” — intellectual and creative conformity is the order of the day.
Publicly traded companies like Activision/Blizzard are deathly afraid of being under the scrutiny of the regressive left and the boycotts and bad publicity that follows. There’s an old saying, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. This explains why Blizzard has become so politically correct in the past few years and is so frightened of the social justice bullies that they would cave in to a few malcontents and complainers, apologize profusely and promise to change content.
Another problem is that Blizzard no longer wants to be just a cool gamer studio. They have bigger ambitions. Blizzard sees themselves as the new Disney for the millennial generation. Disney is the archetypal politically correct soulless corporation. The Disneyfication process is in full swing. They have a full blown motion picture being released this summer. They just announced a partnership with Scholastic to produce fiction text books for elementary school children. Like the demonic Burning Crusade of Warcraft mythos, Blizzard is hell bent on world domination for their IP but at what cost?
As Blizzard’s corporate ambitions get bigger, we can expect them to care less about artistic integrity and pleasing their original fans and more about pleasing their shareholders by creating sanitized “epic” politically correct Disneyfied content for the masses.
How Blizzard Can Repair Their Reputation and get their Mojo Back
Blizzard has gone so far down the rabbit hole that at this point I am not sure that their reputation can be salvaged. They have lost millions of WoW subscribers over the years and millions of dollars of revenue due to hubris, stubbornness and bad design decisions with three poorly performing WoW expansions in a row as evidence. If that financial reality doesn’t wake them up, then perhaps nothing will. If some miracle were to happen and Blizzard woke up and realized they have betrayed their own values and their fans, here’s what I would prescribe:
Since Blizzard has become so adept at making apologies, Mike Morhaime’s opening speech at BlizzCon 2016 should begin with an apology to their actual fans, for their pandering to the regressive left and the social justice warriors. Blizzard should announce that from this day forward, they will start making games that *they* want to make and not the games that a handful of angry leftists and slimy hucksters in the outrage industry want them to make. After all, Blizzard fans became loyal fans because of Blizzard’s original vision. I guarantee you if Mike Morhaime were to say this, he would get a standing ovation of biblical proportions that would send shock-waves throughout the video game world.
The next apology should be to the 800,000 fans that have affected by the closing of Nostalrius and offer legacy servers. Mike Morhaime should invite JonTron — the maker of the Blizzard Rant video — to BlizzCon 2016 for the announcement that Blizzard will be offering legacy servers to their fans. And look, he’s even wearing a red-shirt in the video. This announcement would get another rousing standing ovation and show millions of fans that Blizzard is back in the game and caring about their fans again.
Finally, they should announce a policy of open dialogue with their real fans, not the professional complainers and career activists. The actual fans are the real shareholders and investors in the Blizzard empire. They pay Blizzard salaries and they have been routinely ignored and forgotten. If this were to happen, there would be mass feinting at BlizzCon. Paramedics would need to be dispatched to the scene immediately.
If Blizzard were to do just these three things and start focusing on making great games again, they would instantly win back the hearts and minds of their fans.
I miss the old Blizzard. I miss the Blizzard that had swagger, style and bravado. I miss the Blizzard that broke every rule in the video game business and delivered the some of the most incredible and beloved video games the world has ever seen.
For years Blizzard had the best street cred in the video game industry because they bucked the trend of realizing crappy games and instead only released games when there were ready. Today Blizzard’s reputation is in the toilet. Their flagship product World of Warcraft is in a death spiral and has lost millions of subscribers. Blizzard has abdicated their responsibility to their fans to stay true to their artistic vision and to create video games that are free from the interference by special interest groups who care nothing about what the majority of real Blizzard gamers want.
If nothing changes and Blizzard fails to learn anything from the public outcry of the past month, then I believe Blizzard needs new leadership. They need to find someone who can lead Blizzard away from their current trajectory of trying to be a sanitized Disney entertainment conglomerate back to an amazing gamer-centric video game company.
Blizzard, you need to wake up from your slumber and start fighting for your loyal fans and show them you care. Start standing up for the artistic integrity of your employees too. Stop taking legal action against your fans who love you so much that they built a private legacy server to honor the memory of a once great MMO. Stop telling your fans you know what is best for them. Stop being so arrogant and dismissive. Stop pandering to the demands of radical leftists. Stop trying to be all things to all people and re-focus on your core fan base.
If Blizzard survives this crisis, it will be their fans that helped saved Blizzard from themselves. It’s Blizzard fans like 30-year-old mother Ginny Higerd who spoke out and called out Blizzard out for their cowardice and pandering on the Tracer fiasco. It’s over a million fans that supported the vision of classic WoW with the Nostalrius legacy server and other private WoW servers. It’s the millions of gamers worldwide that recently banded together and saved their hobby from a vicious and unprovoked assault by social justice warriors who only care about indoctrinating gamers with their extremist ideology.
The only time people really change is when they hit rock bottom. Blizzard, the events of this month are a wake up call that calls for an intervention that seeks to resurrect the heart and soul of who you once were. You need to stop, take a deep breath and for once find the humility to LISTEN to those millions of fans that have paid your salaries and made you who you are today. In reality, they know you better than you know yourselves.
The Blizzard we knew and loved is almost gone; it’s in the process of being gobbled up by the corporate machine. Like King Théoden of Rohan who was controlled like a puppet by the evil wizard Saruman in The Lord of the Rings, we know the real Blizzard is still in there just waiting to be freed. Ultimately though, only Blizzard can decide who they want to be and where they want to go. Do they want to continue down the path of being just another politically correct entertainment conglomerate or do they want to pivot and once again be the maverick video game studio that they used to be?