Honestly, I was kind of hoping to avoid any topic related to the hellscape that is Activision-Blizzard’s treatment of its employees. Mostly because far smarter and better people have written about the matter than I have and I don’t have anything of worth to really say on the subject without just standing on the shoulders of those giants. However, a recent event today spurred this post. Specifically, a tweet from someone I follow which read that, despite their best efforts, they couldn’t really get invested into Final Fantasy XIV and decided to return to WoW.
This is in spite of some best efforts and some found delight by this person, I should point out. I’ll not go into detail but this player really did try to dig in. Of course, this attempt was spurred on by the aforementioned issues, and I suspect that this particular WoW player wrestled mightily with their long-standing love of the game and the unveiled misery many of its developers have had to suffer through — something that I’ve written about before on this blog. And despite my feelings about Blizzard and its games, I get it.
The reason why I can appreciate this person’s decision isn’t just because I’m friendly with them (though that certainly informs part of my thinking), but it’s because I understand that you just need to find the fun in a game and enjoy what it is regardless of how people feel about it — something else I’ve written about before on this blog. I promise I’m not going to repeat myself too much here, but then again it’s been long enough since I touched on this topic that I think it bears a bit of revisiting. Especially given current events.
On one level, I can kind of step into this person’s shoes. If the roles were reversed — if Square Enix were discovered to be some horrible cesspool — then I would probably have a hard time saying goodbye to FFXIV as well, especially if the devs suggested that punishing the workers by leaving doesn’t exactly punish the management that’s responsible for this festering behavior like Blizzard employees have entreated WoW fans. I wouldn’t want to give money to that miserable company, but I also wouldn’t want everyone working on the game to be nuked either.
On another level, I sort of am in a barely similar boat with regards to my enjoyment of Elite Dangerous. See, the Odyssey expansion, for all of the neat things it added, arrived with the grace of a whale bellyflopping into a salt flat, and community reaction to the thing has been just about as messy as that allusion I used would likely play out. An expansion that was kicked out of the door after a testing phase that was far too short has turned around and bit Frontier Developments furiously on its ass, and people are absolutely, unflinchingly rancorous about the whole thing. At least in the grand scheme of things; I’m sure there are plenty of folks who are more disappointed.
Yet here I am, playing the game anyway in spite of it. Not as much as I used to, mind you, but that’s primarily because I let that rancor and malaise affect me when I know I shouldn’t let it.
Obviously, what FDev has done and what ActiBlizz has done aren’t even on the same level of bad, but I’m not trying to make a direct comparison here so much as just point out some parallel thinking and empathy. As rough as Odyssey was at launch — and let’s not play, it was rough — I still have found enjoyment in it. Furthermore, I’m happy to see that the devs are working to right that ship and are willing to let the console version of the expansion hit the back burner to see the work completed.
So, yeah, I get it. A company doing horrible things sucks, but sometimes you have to love the game anyway. It becomes a matter of finding the sunshine and comfort in a beloved title despite that knowledge because sometimes having a stable place to be is nice. Also, I appreciate despising the general while appreciating the soldier, so to speak — I don’t think FDev wanted to make a crappy expansion, but their hands were likely forced at the top. Likewise, I don’t think anyone working on WoW wants people to heap rewards and praise on the leadership of the studio, but they also want people to enjoy Azeroth.
I guess what I’m saying in the end that this stuff is hard to parse, and we all could use a little bit of understand with one another.
Except for the shitbirds in Blizzard’s leadership responsible for all of this. They can all suffer the slowest heat death possible.