Sources have informed Dexerto that several high profile and experienced staff are set to leave Activision Blizzard over the next two weeks. Set to be among them will be Kim Phan, the Global Product Director of Blizzard Esports - someone who has been with the company over thirteen years.
The news comes just a week after Nate Nanzer, the Overwatch League’s Commissioner, announced he would be leaving to work at rival company Epic Games, likely presiding over their two esports titles Fortnite Battle Royale and their newly acquired Rocket League.
The news continues a trend of negative headlines for Activision Blizzard, including hundreds of layoffs being made - despite the company’s latest shareholder meeting proudly announcing a “record revenue year.”
They were also criticised for treating their customers with contempt during a disastrous announcement of Diablo mobile, where the developers chided the crowd with comments such as, “do you guys not have phones?”
Sources internal to Blizzard confirmed the reason for the latest round of departures as being linked to low morale, especially surrounding the development of the esports divisions of their games.
“People are really getting tired of working for Pete Vlastelica,” one source said. “The focus has become commercializing the esports titles instead of making good programs for the community. Many people internally are laying that on Pete, and it has crushed morale among the Call of Duty and Overwatch teams especially.”
Vlastelica is the President and CEO of Activision Blizzard esports, who joined the company in 2016 from FOX Sports. In his previous role at FOX, he oversaw their digital output and content creation. Some people at Blizzard feel this doesn’t necessarily equip him to make decisions about what is best for esports, due to the noted differences between the markets.
“Right now, there’s a feeling that a lot of the senior management just don’t understand esports,” another source close to the situation said, “but there is no room for negotiating with these people. They are convinced their vision, which is more in line with televised sports, is the right way to go and it has just made people miserable.”
It’s not clear exactly how many people will be leaving in the latest round of internal changes, but there were several other names of some experience on the list that was passed to Dexerto.
While we have chosen to omit those names from the report, the resignation of Phan, whose incredible tenure at the company has made her synonymous with Blizzard esports for many, stood out as especially newsworthy.
We are currently awaiting further comment on this story and will bring you updates as and when they are available.