In 2021, Blizzard, a unit of Activision Blizzard Inc., implemented a process called stack ranking, in which employees are ranked on a bell curve and managers must give low ratings to a certain percentage of staff, according to people familiar with the change who asked not to be named discussing a private matter. Managers were expected to give a poor “developing” status to roughly 5% of employees on their teams, which would lower their profit-sharing bonus money and could hamper them from receiving raises or promotions in the near future at the Irvine, California-based company, known for games like Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
“When team leads asked why we had to do this, World of Warcraft directors explained that while they did not agree, the reasons given by executive leadership were that it was important to squeeze the bottom-most performers as a way to make sure everybody continues to grow,” Birmingham wrote in the email, which was reviewed by Bloomberg. “This sort of policy encourages competition between employees, sabotage of one another’s work, a desire for people to find low-performing teams that they can be the best-performing worker on, and ultimately erodes trust and destroys creativity.”
Every time I get the idea that Blizzard is just about managing to slowly crawl from the cesspit they've created for themselves, it seems to slide right back in. At this point it's becoming disruptive enough that together with Kotick's antics in general, it is a bit of a question why Microsoft would even bother at all with buying the lot.
Mobile presence & IP is the answer there of course, but blimey, with everything going on, I wouldn't be surprised to see Microsoft disband the encompassing publishing company altogether and turn it into a handful of dedicated development studios, just to get rid of all the bad stuff. Both in the press and in practice.
- ↩️ Bloomberg