One of the co-lead developers of World of Warcraft Classic has left Blizzard, and a new report from Bloomberg reveals that it’s allegedly over a dispute involving an internal employee review system. The ousted developer, Brian Birmingham, reportedly protested Blizzard’s “stack ranking” process, which would have required him to give employees lower reviews than they deserved in order to meet a quota.
Bloomberg revealed this system in its report. According to an internal email Birmingham sent to other members of the team, managers are expected to give lower rankings to a certain number of their staff, roughly 5%. The managers appear to have found ways around this directive over the past few years, but this year Birmingham was allegedly forced to lower an employee’s rating from average to “developing” in order to hit the quota.
According to the report, Birmingham told HR he was considering resigning if the process remained in place, and he was allegedly terminated. A spokesperson told Bloomberg that the stack ranking process involves multiple managers and is designed to help struggling employees.
Reports of cultural problems at Activision Blizzard have cropped up several times in the last couple of years. In 2021, it was sued by the California Civil Rights Department (called the Department of Fair Employment and Housing at the time) for harassment and discrimination in the workplace. The complaint at the time said the company had a “frat boy” culture.
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GamesBeat has reached out to Blizzard for comment, and we will update if they respond.
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