I have a few nice collector’s edition versions of games. But the company whose collector’s editions I have the most of, by far, is Blizzard. For the better part of 25 years, I would buy any Blizzard product (except World of Warcraft, which I knew wasn’t my speed) sight unseen. Whatever the nicest possible version of it was.
Because I trusted them. I trusted them to give me a really great experience. I trusted them to give me incredible value for my money. I trusted them to understand what was valuable and meaningful to me, as a gamer, and that they’d deliver. So I trusted them with my money, and with my time.
There were very, very few game companies I felt the same trust towards. Sure, plenty of other studios made reliably great games. But Blizzard was special. I’ve trusted them ever since Warcraft 2. I upgraded my PC specifically for Frozen Throne. I’ve purchased Diablo 3 on like, three separate platforms, including the collector’s edition on PC.
Point is, I trusted them.
When they got acquired by Activision, I knew that trust would erode. I knew the games would be less focused on giving the players extraordinary value, and be more about milking the audience for all their $. And to some degree, that’s been obvious. But I still wanted to trust Blizzard, and I’d continued to believe in the Blizzard that lived in my mind.
So the recent revelations about the toxic bro-culture at Blizzard came as a bit of a gut-punch. Not that it was a surprise, because any game developer being revealed to be a toxic brodown – if you’ve been in the industry a while, it’s all over the place. But it was a gut-punch, because I trusted Blizzard. I had this image of them in my mind that they cared about games, that they cared about gamers, and that obviously that care would extend to their employees as human beings.
So I’m sad.
I’m sad not because Blizzard has turned into this thing. I’m sad because it’s clear from all the statements that this is what Blizzard has always been. A lot of these allegations happened under the tenure of a lot of folks I held in really high regard – Mike Morhaime, Chris Metzen, etc. And look, I can’t say for certain that they should have known or not – running a large company is a difficult job, where a lot of stuff can fly by people. I’ve been there. But the Blizzard in my mind isn’t about Morhaime & Co’s intentions.
The Blizzard I trusted never existed at all. Because if the price of believing that I’d get my money’s worth out of a game is a toxic culture that drives women to suicide, no part of that is worth it, and no part of that is worth believing in.
But it’s sad. I had believed in a company that wanted to create great things. That wanted to make things their players would genuinely love. I believed that a company that did that had to be a place that would be a joy to work, even on the hard days, but one where people would band together and value each other while they fought the good fight.
And it turns out that company was just in my imagination. It’s still sad to know that it’s gone. That it never existed at all.
As for me, it’s simple – I’m unlikely to ever buy another Blizzard or Activision product again.
Because once that trust is betrayed, it’s gone forever.