Fires have begun burning on the west coast of the US as predicted, thanks to droughts, record heat, and dry lighting strikes. But the smoke from the fires, which in past years has settled in on top of the SF Bay Area where I live, has decided that it too wants to travel this summer and has been hazing up sunsets back east. So while we’re sending out smoke I thought I would cover another set of things that I didn’t want to work up a full post around.
- Blizzard Blows Up
Already foundering for being unable to bring home a win with retail WoW and the 9.1 update, causing many players to head for Final Fantasy XIV, the company took another body blow this week when the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the Activision Blizzard for creating a hostile work environment. While Activision got most of the headlines, the complaint is full of examples of how Blizzard specifically let a wide range of egregious behavior go unchecked and failed to respond to complaints.
Singled out in the complaint was Senior Creative Director Alex Afrasiabi, who had been with the company since 2004 and who had left quietly last summer. He is referenced in WoW in a number of places, including as Field Marshal Afrasiabi out in front of Stormwind.
The disturbing nature of the issues detailed in the complaint was topped by the company’s response to the suit. With the Blitzchung affair they didn’t seem to know what to say, but this time around they lashed out immediately (text at the end of this post) at the state agency, decrying government overreach and complaining about unaccountable State bureaucrats driving companies from the state, very much politically motivated talking points.
Otherwise the company statement claimed that while some of the things detailed may have been true in the past, the company is all better now, everything is fine, and nobody needs to be held accountable for anything. They want to have it both ways, saying both that the state is wrong and that they’ve fixed everything in any case. It is usually better if your statements don’t tend to contradict each other.
Any adult that has worked for a big company knows that corporate culture doesn’t change quickly. It takes a lot of effort, and the word is that the company hasn’t gone there yet. That references to Afrasiabi remain in the game is a testament to the lack of progress they have made. And the internet is compiling testimonials about the company’s problems.
Anyway, the Q3 2021 Activision Blizzard financial report ought to be a real charmer after this. Massively OP, in their coverage, rehashed the litany of problems the company has been facing in recent years. It ain’t pretty.
- A New World Beta
Amazon’s MMO New World went into what is supposed to be a final, pre-launch beta this week. I don’t think they’ll yank the game back from the precipice this time around, but you never know. I have been interested in the game and was in one of the big early NDA protected test runs a couple of years back
I liked what I saw back then… it seemed like what H1Z1 ought to have been before they went all-in on battle royale, but I guess John Smedley being at Amazon Games now might explain that. I did not pre-order, so no beta invite for me, but Bhagpuss seemed happy with how things looked.
The one thing that seems to be dominating the press coverage is a problem where high end video cards seem to be failing in the beta. We’ll see how that works out.
- EverQuest and the Ghost Collector’s Editions Past
EverQuest pretty much lives on nostalgia, with their retro and special servers keeping a good portion of their players invested in a $15 a month subscription. But they have to farm the live servers as well, so they get an expansion every year an a cash shop that is always looking for something new to sell. Now they are trying to farm a bit of nostalgia from the live server players by offering a pack that features items from the collector’s editions of no longer available expansions.
For just 7,999 in Daybreak Cash, which is about $80 in real world cash depending on your purchase quantities, a selection of no longer available items can be made available to you. It is like nostalgia for fear of missing out!
- Path of Exile Expedition
I have something of a checkered past with Path of Exile. On paper I should enjoy it, and I am always into it when I start out. But something… network performance, bugs, no knowing what to do next… always seems to stymie me. But I think about it every time the offer up a new expansion, and one if launching today.
This one is interesting in that Grinding Gears Games has decided to try and roll back player gear and power in an attempt to revitalize the feel of the game and to give it an overall more satisfying experience. But it is always a risky move, taking power away from players. Destructiod’s headline about the expansion is an illustration of that risk:
Path of Exile is nerfing everything, and players are unhappy
We shall see how it plays out I suppose, but a power reset might be a good time to jump back in. Maybe? I took a look at the patch notes, which are a freaking book, but can’t tell either way.