Blizzard developers say mandatory return-to-office policy has 'cost us some amazing people'

Blizzard's Big Orc Statue
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

Activision Blizzard's mandatory return-to-office policy is causing an unnecessary loss of talent, to the point where it could affect development of major titles like World of Warcraft and Diablo 4, according to some Blizzard developers.

As reported by Kotaku, the company mandated that Activision employees return to the office for three days a week on April 10 this year, while Blizzard workers would be expected to follow suit on July 10. But several developers have spoken out about the ramifications this has had for employment.

"Being loud about it because I've lost yet *another* person this week," game producer Adam "Glaxigrav" tweeted in April. "Blizzard is losing amazing talent because someone in power doesn't listen to the game directors who make his products." Adam further stated that "We are creating crisis maps of what we can or cannot ship. THAT is the loss of capacity we're facing."

Other Blizzard employees added their own thoughts to Adam's tweet. "Forced RTO has cost us some amazing people and will continue to cost us more in the coming months", wrote senior designer Allison Steele. "It is a terrible, shortsighted, self-destructive policy that is only weakening our ability to deliver the kind of game we want to make." An example of the effect ABK's policy is having can be found in the replies to Steele's tweet. "I've received a job offer for Blizzard, and the move to Irvine was mandatory…which is a no-go for me" wrote Ubisoft AI programmer Stéphane Wantiez.

Kotaku also spoke to an employee on the Diablo 4 team on the condition of anonymity, who said they believed their days at Blizzard "are numbered", that none of their managers are on board with the return-to-office policy, and that several other people on the team had also given notice. The same employee also speculated that Blizzard is "tightening its belt right now and they want people to leave", which may affect Blizzard's plans for Diablo IV's post-release updates.

It's worth noting that the mandatory office attendance doesn't apply to ABK's executives. Recently hired execs like Chief Administrative Officer Brian Bulatao, and Chief Communications Officer Lulu Cheng Meservey, have full-time remote status.

Return to office policies have been a divisive subject in the games industry of late. Recently, a Unity manager was fired after referring to an exec's RTO solution as "out of touch" on Twitter. Meanwhile, other companies like Bungie and Respawn Entertainment have fully embraced remote-working.