It started on November 21 with the launch of the World of Warcraft Classic , the first major in a series of “retro” revamps that have been getting some positive attention lately. The big draw for WoW Classic was that it was going to be a faithful recreation of the MMORPG that had ruled the roost for so long, basing it on the original Vanilla version that was released in 2004. But when the launch date rolled around, the game was missing many features, and Blizzard’s own insistence on the title being a “complete” version of the game put it at odds with much of the online community.
This past week, Blizzard Entertainment announced that it was bringing its hugely popular MMORPG World of Warcraft to an end. In the history of MMORPGs, this news is a huge deal. There is no single game that can claim a higher global audience than World of Warcraft. The game has been active for almost 15 years, and its presence has changed immensely over the years. Blizzard has provided us with great games over the years, from the revolutionary Diablo 2 to the addictive StarCraft to the groundbreaking World of Warcraft. But as of now, it seems that the company has decided that the time has come to move on to the next chapter of their story.
The end of the world is here and it’s time to start building a better one.
It should come as no surprise that a video game company that has been widely chastised and even boycotted for everything from political censorship and mass layoffs to labor abuses and excessive executive compensation has also allegedly fostered a corporate culture of sexism, racism, discrimination, harassment, and sexual abuse that resulted in the death of a staffer. After a two-year investigation, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a huge discrimination and harassment complaint against Activision-Blizzard this week. Leaked memos, deflective screeds, and clever apologies from past and current corporate leadership alternated between denying, skirting, and atoning for the accusations. Hundreds of workers have now come forward as victims and witnesses, openly accusing the very executives asking forgiveness.
We’ve stated it before, but we’ll say it again: we continue to support Blizzard’s innocent employees, particularly the victims in this case. The pain that Activision-Blizzard executives created, nurtured, and enjoyed inside their walls has left us all poorer.
The continuing debate overshadowed what should have been a good moment for the MMORPG industry, since the New World beta debuted with a high retention rate. That’s how it happens sometimes. Today, like every Sunday (since 2010), Massively Overpowered’s Week in Review brings you the best of this week’s MMO news and views.
THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS THIS WEEK
California sues Activision-Blizzard over discrimination and sexist, toxic work culture – Activision-Blizzard has had an abysmal couple of years, and it’s about to get much worse, as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing has filed a civil rights and… ‘We do not serve Activision Blizzard’: Furious WoW players stage protest against Blizzard – Following yesterday’s revelation that the state of California is suing Activision-Blizzard in a 29-page complaint that alleges a serious pattern of sexual harassment and discrimination that led to the death… J Allen Brack addresses Blizzard staff over sexism scandal, Activision doubles down on deflection – Faced with a massive sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit, Blizzard addressed the studio workers in a memo leaked last night. President J. Allen Brack doesn’t admit fault or comment on… Mike Morhaime to female Blizzard workers: ‘I am extremely sorry that I failed you’ – In response to the situation surrounding the explosive California state lawsuit alleging systemic sexual harassment and discrimination at Activision-Blizzard, former president Mike Morhaime posted a letter to the industry and… Chris Metzen offers apology for Blizzard’s culture of ‘harassment, inequality, and indifference’ – Perhaps having seen how badly Mike Morhaime’s apology to the women of Blizzard backfired, Chris Metzen took the better part of an extra day to issue his own letter to… WoW Factor: No king rules forever – World of Warcraft patch 9.1 has been out for less than a month, and it is a bad time to be a fan of Blizzard and the game. This column… Camelot Unchained says it has no plans to license its engine, is still paying refunds – Earlier this month, Camelot Unchained studio City State Entertainment came under fire when its leader objected to a YouTube video that speculated the company was on the verge of collapse.… Hands-on with New World’s 20v20 PvPvE battleground and its newest dungeon – Last week Amazon Games held a press demo and offered up an early preview of some of the latest and greatest content coming to New World leading up to launch.… LOTRO Legendarium: Six suggestions to improve LOTRO’s business model – First of all, I want to give praise where it’s due: Lord of the Rings Online has done a great job in 2021 shedding its tight-lipped and cryptic nature in… Valiance Online enters into beta phase for investors of the game – This past March, we decided to recount what happened to Valiance Online, noting that the team at Silverhelm was hit hard by COVID and had an updated internal build roughly… Elyon says it’s trying to be ‘clear and transparent’ about its cash shop – A game’s cash shop by any other name will attempt to suck all of the money out of your wallet, even if it’s being dubbed an adorable “Ruby Shop.” That’s… Pokemon Go reneges on rewards after Russian players achieve company’s goal – As readers may notice in our Pokemon Go coverage, we frequently ask PR for clarity on various announcements. While we can all appreciate not wanting too many spoilers, many of… GDC 2021: Star Wars Galaxies was a complex game of corporate greed and fan love – It was an MMO built in about three years, with a miserable launch, a depressing churn rate, and the most infamous patch in all gaming history… and also an MMO… Crowfall suddenly changes course and announces a Dregs campaign for Australian players – Last week and this past Tuesday we reported on Crowfall’s lack of a Dregs campaign for Oceania players while NA and EU players got one, with ArtCraft noting that the… MassivelyOP interview: Talking ship design with Star Trek Online’s Donny Versiga – [AL:STO]If you play Star Trek Online, you know that ship collecting is one of the major pastimes of captains all over the Federation and beyond. As such, Donny Versiga, Staff… Massively Overthinking: Load-bearing playerbases in MMORPGs – Game developer Damion Schubert is known to MMO players for his work on everything from Ultima Online to SWTOR, but as it turns out, he’s a controversial Twitter follow all… Ubisoft’s sexual harassment and racism scandal extended to Skull & Bones studio in Singapore – We realize that Activision-Blizzard’s horrifying sexual misconduct and discrimination lawsuit stole all the headlines last night and will probably dominate the news cycle for a while, but it’s just not… Warcraft III: Reforged was sabotaged internally by low budget and shifting priorities – If you’re still waiting for Warcraft III: Reforged to deliver on the basic functionality that the game’s prior version had 18 months after launch… don’t be silly, the game still… GGG’s Chris Wilson says Path of Exile reached a ‘breaking point with power creep’ that Expedition will help fix – Yesterday, we noted how Path of Exile players were responding with dismay to the proposed Expedition expansion and league changes, under the belief that the expansion was being designed to… Players sound the alarm over faction balance in World of Warcraft: Classic – Well, World of Warcraft might be struggling right now, but at least everything’s going peachy over on WoW Classic, right? Not so much, really. If the same-faction battlegrounds didn’t tip… NCsoft prepares ‘solo-friendly’ edition of Lineage 2 for an August release – Come August 11th, Lineage II will boast not one, not two, but three separate versions of the game. In addition to the regular Lineage II and the legacy Lineage II… Perfect Ten: The 10 stages of returning to an old favorite MMO – In my illustrious career of sitting on my butt and mashing the 1-4 buttons over and over, I’ve returned to many MMOs like an addicted boomerang. I learned early on… Guild Wars 2 plans to make a permanent public version of Twisted Marionette after some tweaks – If you’ve been following the community buzz in Guild Wars 2, you probably noticed a name on a lot of players’ lips: the Twisted Marionette, which readers will recall was… Book of Travels has delayed its early access a third time, now to August 30 – Might and Delight has delayed Book of Travels yet again, though it won’t be a dramatically longer wait: The new early access debut is happening August 30th. The studio says… Fallout 76 announces Fallout Worlds with (paid) customizable servers – Private customizable servers have been high up on the most-wanted list for a segment of Fallout 76’s community. Now, they’re here. Bethesda announced that it’s started to test Fallout Worlds,… The Daily Grind: So what do we all think of New World so far? – Amazon’s New World rolled into closed beta yesterday, and unlike some past test events, this one has no NDA, meaning the whole MMORPG community is weighing in. I got a… GDC 2021: Research on online video game voice chat has come a long way – Covering studies about video gamers often reveals a glaring problem with the science on the topic: Most of it looks has traditionally surveyed text chat rather than voice chat. But… XDefiant is Ubisoft’s next Tom Clancy franchise arena shooter – Ubisoft is not having the best couple of years. It’s been wrecked by a wide-ranging sexual harassment scandal and lawsuit, it’s losing staff left and right, it’s had to delay… Choose My Adventure: Wakfu may not be my cup of tea – You know how sometimes you really can’t know for sure how you’ll feel about a game until you fire it up? Those games where you sort of arrive to it… Not So Massively: Wolcen’s roadmap is missing some important things – In the past, I’ve been pretty free with my praise for Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem. I’ve gotten nearly a hundred hours of good fun out of it, and I hope… Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida addresses the ‘staggering and unexpected’ player population explosion and asks for patience – Everyone’s eager to play Final Fantasy XIV’s new expansion, and that’s why the servers are full. You know, despite the fact that the expansion in question isn’t releasing until November… Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s outage analysis, simplified – For my day job, I’m a software developer, and all of my previous jobs have been IT related in some fashion. I still remember some advice that my supervisor at… Portal Knights studio gets $10M investment to make open-world sandbox – After selling over 3.5 million copies of Portal Knights, what’s indie developer Keen Games going to do next? Make an even bigger game, that’s what. Keen Games announced that it’s… Amazon’s New World closed beta finally begins today – check out the trailer! – Happy beta day, New World! Yes, Amazon Games’ long-awaited MMORPG is finally rolling into closed beta today as the last leg of testing – and hype – before its launch… War Thunder fan accidentally shares classified military documents to make digital tank more realistic – No, that headline is not an Onion-style bit of satire because we genuinely live in a world so unapologetically stupid that satire is dying screaming. Apparently, an active member of… Massively on the Go: Pokemon GO Fest 2021 might be the last great GO Fest – Still cleaning out your pokemon collections, trainers? I know I still need to! Pokemon Go’s recent Go Fest 2021 was a return to form for the event. While some people… Ship of Heroes is hitting beta on August 7 – signups open July 31 – If you’re still bummed about the fact that indie superhero MMORPG Ship of Heroes had to delay its launch from 2021 to 2022, take heart: You can jump into the… Wisdom of Nym: What will Final Fantasy XIV add to its ranged damage dealers? – There’s a usual pattern I follow when discussing Final Fantasy XIV jobs, and this time I wanted to break it. We’ve already talked about tanks, so this week we’re going…
THIS WEEK’S CASTS & STREAMS
Get caught up on the latest MMO news and Massively OP’s finest content every week with our MMO Week in Review! Do you want to see more content roundups? Try Friday’s Betawatch for MMO testing updates, Saturday’s Make My MMO for MMO crowdfunding updates, and Sunday’s The MOP Up for everything the news we didn’t cover elsewhere.
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