World of Warcraft Classic Tech Lead Leaves Blizzard, Protesting “Stack Ranking” Employee Evaluation System

The system reportedly requires that approximately 5% of employees get a low ranking.

QuintLyn Bowers
By QuintLyn Bowers, News Editor
Share:

World of Warcraft Classic Team Lead Leaves

Once again, Blizzard has lost another high-ranking employee. This time the tech lead for World of Warcraft Classic has left the company, but not because he’s simply decided to move on to do his own thing or because another company made him a better offer. Instead, Brian Birmingham left in protest of a company policy regarding employee evaluations.

Since 2021, Blizzard has been using what’s known as a “stack ranking” system for evaluating employees. According to Bloomberg, this system ranks employees on a bell curve and requires managers to meet a quota of low-rank evaluations. In Blizzard’s case, the low ranking is called ‘developing” and is expected to apply to around 5% of the employees being reviewed by team leaders. This means that if everyone on a team is performing well, team leaders are forced to just pick people to take a hit. What makes it even worse is that the employees that receive these ratings will be overlooked for bonuses, potentially receiving raises, and even promotions.

Birmingham took issue with the system, sending an email to staff discussing how he and other managers on the development team had been able to avoid the quota system over the last two years. In fact, they’d gotten away with it long enough that they thought the policy wasn’t really being enforced. That is until he was forced to lower an employee from the “successful” rating – which means average to “developing”, meaning poor.

In the letter he wrote that “when team leads asked why [they] had to do this, World of Warcraft directors explained that while they did not agree, the reasons given by executive leadership were that it was important to squeeze the bottom-most performers as a way to make sure everybody continues to grow.” The letter went on to say that [in Birmingham’s opinion], that type 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.” Sounds like just another day at Kotick’s ABK.

All of this goes against what Birmingham believes he should be doing as one of the World of Warcraft Classic leads – and as part of the greater World of Warcraft team. According to a thread he posted last year, sharing details about his role, he’s a “people manager”. He discusses how it’s not his goal to use evaluations to bully those under him, although it is his responsibility to hold people responsible for their work and recognize those who do their jobs well – with things like promotions.

According to Bloomberg, before Birmingham sent the email out, he told several people that he was resigning. However, he noted that in a follow-up discussion with an HR representative, who called to confirm that he was, in fact, resigning, he told them he was “still considering it”. He also told them that he wouldn’t be doing any work until the policy was removed. The end result was that blizzard fired him. Of course, the sad thing now, other than losing a job, is that his team no longer has him there to stand up for him. We’d say that the upside is that firing someone who is just trying to take care of his staff isn’t exactly a good look for Blizzard, but it doesn’t seem much like Blizzard cares much about public impressions these days.

Note: Activision Blizzard is still under investigation by the state of California for serious harassment charges. CEO Bobby Kotick is alleged to have known about such actions within his company – and performed some himself – and shielded the perpetrators from consequences.

Share:
Got a news tip? Contact us directly here!

About the Author

QuintLyn Bowers
QuintLyn Bowers, News Editor
QuintLyn is a long-time lover of all things video game related will happily talk about them to anyone that will listen. She began writing about games for various hobby sites a little over ten years ago and has taken on various roles in the games community.

Discussion (0)


Read Next

Fallout 76 Announces Removal Of Illegal Weapons Mods

Fallout 76 Announces Removal Of Illegal Weapons Mods

Some folks are about to be very unhappy.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 1 week ago

You May Enjoy

Gaijin Entertainment Partners With Artstorm To Create PC Version Of Modern Warships

Gaijin Entertainment Partners With Artstorm To Create PC Version Of Modern Warships

This is the “first result” of the new collaboration.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 2 days ago
Yes, The Sims 5 Will Have Multiplayer, But Don't Expect It To Be An MMO

Yes, The Sims 5 Will Have Multiplayer, But Don't Expect It To Be An MMO

The game will be available on both mobile and PC devices.

By Aspen Pash - 4 days ago
Blizzard’s Bringing The Original Overwatch’s Credits Currency Back To Overwatch 2 In Season 3

Blizzard’s Bringing The Original Overwatch’s Credits Currency Back To Overwatch 2 In Season 3

Players will be able to purchase epic and legendary-tier skins with them.

By QuintLyn Bowers - 5 days ago
MMORPG "The Quinfall" Is Promising A Lot Including "Adapting Real Life Into A 'Meta' World"

MMORPG "The Quinfall" Is Promising A Lot Including "Adapting Real Life Into A 'Meta' World"

That isn't the only claim the new company behind the title is boasting though...

By QuintLyn Bowers - 6 days ago
Pokémon Trading Card Game Online Will Halt Card Set Development

Pokémon Trading Card Game Online Will Halt Card Set Development

The development will officially end on March 1, 2023.

By Aspen Pash - 4 days ago
Can You Survive Dysterra's Free Steam Weekend? It Kicks Off Tomorrow

Can You Survive Dysterra's Free Steam Weekend? It Kicks Off Tomorrow

Survival shooter Dysterra is giving players a free weekend to check out the game.

By Troy Blackburn - 4 days ago