Activision Blizzard esports teams, particularly for Call of Duty and Overwatch, are reportedly low on morale, with several high-profile staff set to exit from the company soon.
Dexerto reported, citing anonymous sources, that among the employees who are expected to leave is Kim Phan, who has been with the company for 13 years and currently the Global Product Director of Blizzard Esports. The sources gave a list of several names of staff who are set to resign, but Dexerto chose to keep them unnamed aside from Phan, as her tenure “has made her synonymous with Blizzard esports” for many people.
Phan’s rumored plan will follow the move of Nate Nanzer, the founding commissioner of the Overwatch League, who recently left his post to take a role in overseeing competitive Fortnite at Epic Games. Replacing Nanzer will be Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues President and CEO Pete Vlastelica, who reportedly has everything to do with the recent departures.
“People are really getting tired of working for Pete Vlastelica,” one source told Dexerto, resulting in low morale for the teams developing the esports divisions of Blizzard’s games. The focus is said to have shifted to commercializing esports, instead of creating good programs for the games’ communities.
“Many people internally are laying that on Pete, and it has crushed morale among the Call of Duty and Overwatch teams especially,” the source said.
Vlastelica joined Blizzard in 2016 from Fox Sports, where he oversaw digital output and content creation. Some Blizzard employees reputedly believe that this does not properly equip him to make decisions on what is best for the company’s esports plans, because of the differences compared to the market for traditional sports.
“Right now, there’s a feeling that a lot of the senior management just don’t understand esports,” another source told Dexerto, adding that there is no room for negotiations with the executives. “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.”
If the report is true, the loss of Phan and the internal turmoil could not come at a worse time for Blizzard, as the Overwatch League is just starting to infiltrate the mainstream with its plan for all teams to host home games starting 2020.
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