Saturday, June 3



 





Activision Blizzard, the renowned video game developer and publisher, recently fired Eric Covington, a nine-year veteran game designer for World of Warcraft (WoW), due to his creation of a character that made fun of corporate greed​.

Covington shared the news of his termination via a series of tweets, stating that he was dismissed for "lampooning generic corporate greed." He did this through the lines he wrote for a goblin character in WoW, a creature known for its obsession with loot. Activision Blizzard, interestingly, promoted these dialogues on their official WoW Twitter account before the termination​.

The satirical lines included phrases like "Let’s call this a cost of living adjustment," "No profit sharing!," "Looks like another yacht for me!," and "Time to go back to the office!" Although the tweets promoting these dialogues have since been removed, Covington shared screenshots showing these lines​​.

In the wake of his dismissal, Covington questioned why the company would fire him for creating what they deemed 'inappropriate' dialogue, only to use the same dialogue for promotional purposes​.

According to documents obtained by Gizmodo, Activision Blizzard's human resources director claimed Covington was terminated for inserting "inappropriate non-game related content into a game," a violation of the company's code of conduct​1​. However, Covington argued that these lines were only discovered by the higher-ups after the "string lock" phase, a stage in game development when no further changes to text can be made. He emphasized that his dialogue was locked in weeks before the content went live​​.

The line "Time to go back to the office!" seems particularly poignant as Activision Blizzard is currently enforcing a return-to-office policy for its employees, a minimum of three days a week, following the pandemic​​.

Covington, who stated he was looking forward to returning to the office due to his personal work style preference, was also an advocate for employees to choose their preferred work style​​.

After his termination, Covington sent a formal email to HR and company leadership, stating that his dialogue had passed the approval process and had even reached the marketing stage without any complaint. He also noted that the publisher continued to promote the loot goblin character on social media during his termination process and shortly thereafter​​.

The firing of Covington comes at a critical time for Activision Blizzard. The company is currently dealing with an image cleanup due to allegations of facilitating a toxic work environment that included sexual harassment, for which they settled a $35 million lawsuit earlier this year. Furthermore, Activision Blizzard is in the midst of an anticipated $68.7 billion buyout by Microsoft, a deal approved by the EU, but currently facing opposition in the UK​​.

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