Blizzard's survival game team has 'doubled in size' and BlizzCon is coming back

Two young figures look over a lush fantasy landscape which includes a floating castle. Behind them, a dark path leads to a city of modern skyscrapers.
(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard President Mike Ybarra has published his end-of-year update, summarising all the major developments at the company in the last year. Citing 2022 as a "great year" for Blizzard, the blog includes a rundown of the company's recent achievements, a few mind-boggling stats like "12 billion hours of Blizzard games were played last year", and a fair amount of discussion regarding Blizzard's attempts to improve its work culture.

Before that though, there are a couple of more specific points worth drilling into. First, while covering positional changes to Blizzard's various internal teams, Ybarra notes that the team for its untitled survival game has "doubled in size". The project, which Ybarra emphasises is Blizzard's "first new IP since Overwatch", is led by Dan Hay, who was previously executive producer on Ubisoft's Far Cry series. Little else is known about the survival game, but it is coming to PC, and according to a job posting from earlier this year, is "A place full of heroes we have yet to meet, stories yet to be told, and adventures yet to be lived."

Second, Ybarra notes that "we're bringing BlizzCon back". Blizzard's annual gaming convention has had a rougher time than most in-person events over the last couple of years. Like many others, it was cancelled in 2020 due to the Pandemic, A replacement virtual event named BlizzConline was supposed to be held in 2021, but Blizzard put these plans on "pause", due to the allegations of endemic discrimination and sexual harassment at the company. Ybarra doesn't provide specifics about Blizzcon's return, simply stating "more on that early next year!" But he does mention that BlizzCon has a new executive producer, April McKee.

On the subject of Blizzard's work culture, Ybarra reiterates Blizzard's numerous new hires in this area, such as Jessica Martinez in the "brand-new role" of VP at Culture, and Makaiya Brown as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) lead. Ybarra then emphasises that "culture isn't the work of one person" and states that the company has "convened a culture team consisting of a wide array of functions across Blizzard who are helping us improve how we work".

More broadly, he states that Blizzard has been "taking a deep look at the mission, vision and values upon which Blizzard was built" and that "this is a project that our employees, as well as players will see the results of in the new year." All of which is well and good in theory, but the reality is Blizzard is still very much dealing with the fallout of the allegations against the company. In October, Blizzard found itself facing yet another sexual harassment lawsuit for "sexist and harassing conduct" by a former manager which went on for years before he was fired. It would also be remiss to ignore the impact of Blizzard workers' unionising efforts, which has resulted in the creation of two new workers' unions within the company.