Shadowlands: The Death of WoW? #ActiBlizzWalkout

Not yet, but it’s on some serious life support right now, and it’s not entirely undeserved either…

I have been, like many other fans of Blizzard Entertainment over the past week or two, been absolutely abhorred by the reports of what has been happening at the company over the past decade or more.

Reports of sexual harassment, to the point where one woman sadly felt she had no option left but to commit suicide, a pervasive “bro” culture that demeaned both women and people of colour, as well as other vulnerable minorities, and just all round very heinous, shitty and obnoxious behaviour and attitudes such as making jokes about rape, molesting women, demeaning them and their abilities, denying them equal pay or deserved promotions.

The whole thing is paradigm changing for the fans and Blizzard community as a whole.

I participated in the #ActiBlizzWalkout on Wednesday 28th. Well, I selfishly logged in to get my vault reward for the week, but following that at 8am I haven’t logged in since (over 30 hours later). Normally by now I would’ve done my weekly renown catchup, campaign chapter, and potentially my layer 11/12 Torghast runs for the week, on my Druid at least.

However at the moment I’m finding it hard to even bring myself to boot up the launcher.

As such, I’ve been questioning if I want to continue to play the game, and it’s a really difficult decision.

On one hand I would be supporting a company run by a man who sat by and did nothing while all of this was going on. I am of course talking about J Allan Brack, one of two men specifically named in the California DFEH lawsuit this week. The other, Afrasiabi, has become as well regarded as Bill Cosby did after he got locked up for rape. And from what I’ve heard, there’s not that much separating the two men in actions, let alone reputation.

I would be supporting a company run by this man, which would in some small way be condoning his inaction at best, participation at worst.

However, I spent most of yesterday out of the game reading through the many MANY accounts of victims of this culture at Blizzard over the past decade and more, learning that not only was Afrabiasi heinous in his actions, but that most of the legends of Blizzard who I had admired for many years were participants and enablers in his behaviours.

The infamous screenshot floating around social media over the past couple of days showing Afrasiabi joking about getting women drunk, back to the so-called Cosby suite and fucking them, shows not only him, but the likes of Neil McCree, Cory Stockton, Greg Street, Dave Kosak among others not only participating but encouraging this behaviour.

Other stories about other legends of Blizzard, such as Mike Morhaime, former President and a co-founder of the company, being told directly by victims of what had happened to them and nothing being done are just so incredibly disappointing.

But, on the other hand, I would be continuing to support a company filled with thousands of employees who have risked their livelihoods to make a stand against all of the above. Thousands of employees who risked their jobs to strike outside Blizz HQ yesterday.

And all the while the messages coming from the leadership of both Blizzard and Activision have been… lacking, if I’m being charitable.

Blizzard need to start making reparations to the victims, put people & processes in place to prevent anything remotely like this from happening ever again, and just generally shape up their recruitment & HR processes.

As for me, I’m finding it hard to muster the desire to log in at this moment in time. I have raid commitments for the remainder of this tier, and the rest of the expansion. However beyond that?

Unless some serious changes are wrought by those in positions of power, whoever they may be further on down the road, then Shadowlands could very well be the end of my now 12 year adventure in Azeroth.

And I’ll be sad about it, certainly. It’s been a massive part of my life for this past dozen years, and I’ve pumped thousands of hours & hundred of pounds into the game over that time.

But people have always said that the only thing that will kill WoW is WoW itself, and if things keep up this way then that will come to pass.

Shadowlands as it stands has been a mess. Systems layered on top of systems, leading to confusion, frustration and annoyance.

Covenant abilities, layered on top of Soulbinds, on top of Conduits, on top of acquisition of Shards of Domination, on top of and in addition to the acquisition of the relevant piece of gear to activate your chosen set bonus, all of which is layered on top of classes and their balance.

And this from the expansion we were promised would be a return to the good old days where gear was gear, systems were simple, and we could just login and enjoy playing the game.

Jeez, that didn’t exactly work out now did it?

As it stands, I have a 6 month sub due next month, which I’ll allow to go through. However after that I will cancel, and renew manually if I’m still feeling the desire to play, and keep that rolling, instead of an automatic rolling 6 month sub.

Shadowlands is a mess, Blizzard Entertainment is a mess, and trying to figure out what to do is a mess.

I honestly am up in the air right now over what to do in the long term, but at least there’s FFXIV Endwalker on the horizon and a huge back-catalogue of Steam/GoG/Playstation games awaiting me either way…