World of Warcraft co-lead developer ousted over Blizzard’s employee ranking system

Robert Collins

A manager at Blizzard has been terminated over his protest of the company’s employee ranking system, originally reported by Bloomberg. Co-lead developer on World of Warcraft Classic Brian Birmingham has confirmed via Twitter that he no longer works for Blizzard, stating that “I would return if I were allowed to, so that I could fight the stack-ranking policy from inside.”

Birmingham went on to say that “I can’t participate in a policy that lets ABK steal money from deserving employees, and I can’t be made to lie about it either.”

The ranking system in question apparently grouped employees into categories such as “successful” and “developing.” Managers were expected to group 5% of their employees into the “developing” category. If an employee were down-ranked into this category it could hurt their chances of promotion within the company.

Birmingham has stated that shortly before leaving Blizzard he was forced to demote an employee from “successful” to “developing” just to meet a quota. In his lengthy Twitter thread on the topic Birmingham didn’t mince words on his views of the system,

This sort of policy encourages competition between employees, sabotage of one another’s work, a desire for people to find low-performing teams that they can be the best-performing worker on, and ultimately erodes trust and destroys creativity.”

Microsoft went through similar issues with stack ranking back in 2013, eventually ditching the system for a more teamwork and collaboration oriented approach.

This drama, if you want to call it that, comes as the most recent update for World of Warcraft: Dragonflight (update 10.0.5) releases.

The update introduces the all-new Trading Post as well as the new event “Storm’s Fury.” Update 10.0.5 also includes some bug fixes as well as a slew of class tweaks to deliver a more balanced experience. You can find the patch notes over on

Via GamesIndustrybiz

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