'We begged for more information, more details … all flatly declined': former Blizzard community development manager tears into Bobby Kotick over Overwatch 2's Steam launch

Bobby Kotick
(Image credit: Bloomberg (GEtty Images))

Activision-Blizzard's transfer over to the growing empire of Microsoft has been a bit of a drama, to say the least—but it's all over now, its curtains called with the departure of the company's former CEO Bobby Kotick, exiting stage right.

Kotick has been a controversial figure in gaming, quickly building up a reputation as a ruthless capitalist—like when Activision-Blizzard sued Double Fine over Brutal Legend, prompting the studio's founder Tim Schafer to call him a "total prick". There was also a disastrous interview with Variety where he denied the allegations of sexual harassment problems at Blizzard as an "aggressive labour movement"—as well as a harrowing instance where he reportedly threatened an employee via voicemail in 2006

A spokesperson later told the WSJ that the voicemail was "obviously hyperbolic and inappropriate" and that he "deeply regrets the exaggeration and tone in his voice". Still—he's gone now. After 32 years, some former developers are singing 'ding and dong' with a side of 'the witch is (metaphorically) dead'.

Andy Belford (a former senior manager in community development at Blizzard) took to Twitter a few days ago to break his silence on the man himself, particularly regarding Overwatch 2's disastrous Steam launch. The game's Valve debut came at a time of seething community sentiment, sinking its overall review rating to "Overwhelmingly Negative". A black mark that still hasn't been washed away. 

"When we planned OW2’s steam launch, my team warned (months in advance) that we were going to be review bombed," Belford writes. "We begged for more information, more details, and more resources to help us with the anticipated influx, all flatly denied."

That review bombing came from a flood of players with some (understandably) bottled frustration—a disappointed community's first opportunity to tear into the steady decline of a game they'd once loved. It seems like Belford and his team saw that meteor coming from lightyears away.

"Moderation of Steam was put on the community team," Belford continues, which was something he argued against—saying that he didn't want to put his fellows in the way of that onslaught without proper backup. "When asked whose decision it was to launch on Steam with no additional help: Bobby."

Belford points out that this wasn't just some one-time incident, either. It was, according to him, emblematic of the way Kotick ran things. "This is only one example … shit flowed downstream, usually landing on the lowest paid and most overworked individuals. Management was too busy reacting to wildly vacillating direction and decisions that made zero sense."

Belford certainly isn't alone. A former Call of Duty developer Christina Pollock also chimed in, stating in no uncertain terms that he "made our games worse".

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.