World of Warcraft Classic lead Brian Birmingham has parted company with Blizzard after expressing concerns about the company’s “forced” stack ranking policy.
The policy in question reportedly states that managers at Blizzard are required to give a low “development” rating — something that can affect employees’ financial status and future promotion potential — to a certain percentage of their staff in order to meet a quota set by parent company Activision Blizzard.
In an email seen by Bloomberg, when Blizzard team leaders questioned the policy, Birmingham stated, “World of Warcraft directors explained that while they disagreed, the reasons given by executive leadership were that it was important to pressure low performers as a way to make sure That everyone continues to grow.”
Frustrated by this reasoning from managers, Birmingham went on to note that this type of policy is unhealthy for the workplace.
“[It] Encourages competition among employees, sabotage of each other’s work, people’s desire to find low-performing teams in which they can be the best workers, and ultimately undermines trust and destroys creativity.”
Reportedly, several Blizzard leaders have attempted to circumvent this policy by giving themselves the coveted “development” rating, rather than their team members. However, it seems that this was not an option.
In addition, the Birmingham email stated that potential customers were asked to keep this policy “confidential” because it was part of an “ongoing discussion” and the company “didn’t want Activision executives to make things worse.”
“This threat of retaliation cannot be allowed to motivate our actions,” Birmingham wrote. “Even if it were legal, it certainly isn’t ethical, and I can’t support it.”
In a recent thread addressing the Bloomberg article, Birmingham stated that the team at Blizzard “backtracked” on this policy in 2021.
“I really thought we had reversed the quota development policy,” he said. “When the sexual harassment lawsuit came to light later that year, we saw some change after that as well, and we felt we could make an impact on [Activision Blizzard] Policy.”
He continued, “The realization that there was still a minimum ‘development’ quota, despite our objections and the heavily worded lettering leads me to believe I was operating under an illusion. I hope Blizzard’s positive culture can overcome it.” [Activision Blizzard]It’s poison, but he hasn’t managed to do it yet.”
Birmingham stated that the Blizzard he was working for was being “ripped off by executives” at Activision Blizzard, which he described as a “mother company dilemma”.
Birmingham ended its thread by emphasizing that it “could not participate in a policy that would allow ABK to steal money from deserving employees and [he] He can’t be made to lie about it either.”
Birmingham is no longer employed by Blizzard, but has expressed that he would “return if allowed to ‘then keep'”[fighting] Insider Stack Order Policy.
Eurogamer has reached out to Blizzard for further comment.
I didn’t intend to make this public, but it looks like it’s been in the news already, so I’d like to at least set the record straight. I’m no longer an employee of Blizzard Entertainment, though I will if I’m allowed to be, so I can fight the stack order policy from within.
– Brian Birmingham (@BrianBirming) January 24, 2023
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