February 3, 2023

A necromancer holds up a glowing skeleton to convince some developers to work late.

Image: Blizzard

Loot action RPG Diablo IV received rave reviews this week and is expected to appear on the 2022 edition of The game prizes Thursday evening. But some developers of the game tell the The Washington Post that production may not be ready in time for a planned June 2023 release date unless they crack in the next few months.

According to an new research The Washington Postfeaturing interviews with 15 current and former developers at Blizzard, Diablo IV‘s development has been rocky. It features a lot of scrapped work, controversial decisions and lengthy overtime, even amid the company’s promises to become a “model” workplace in the games industry as Activision Blizzard fights a 2021 California lawsuit over years of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination.

“We’re at the point where they don’t want to delay the game anymore,” said one developer. “So we all just have to go along and figure out how much we’re willing to hurt ourselves to make sure the game gets released in good shape.”

Blizzard did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Kotaku. spokesman Andrew Reynolds said The Washington Post following from her research:

As you may know, game development in general and ‘Diablo IVnotably follows an iterative process where the scope evolves over time. The production of the game is going extremely well. Overtime is voluntary and limited to specific teams. We regularly poll the team about their professional well-being and the latest results are the most positive in years.

Read more: The terrible world of video game crunch

Although overtime is not mandatory, The Washington Post reports that Blizzard is using company stock bonuses and $25 DoorDash gift cards to encourage staff to work longer hours to finish the game. As is common during times of crisis, some developers say the overtime will continue to take a toll on their health and personal relationships.

Diablo IVThe development of the game has become closely intertwined with a larger workplace in the gaming industry over the past year. As first reported by Kotakuformer director Luis Barriga and chief designer Jesse McCree were fired in August 2021. While Blizzard gave no reason why, McCree was one of the developers pictured in a so-called BlizzCon 2013 “Cosby suite” with former World of Warcraft lead developer, Alex Afrasiabi, who was previously fired for misconduct.

The game was officially postponed in November 2021, and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick subsequently blamed that on the company’s plummeting stock price, not a Wall Street Journal report implicate him in the alleged failure of the company to adequately address allegations of misconduct.

Microsoft then swooped in on the Duty maker with a big discount, although the Federal Trade Commission is now fighting to prevent the merger. In the meantime, quality assurance developers on Diablo IV at Blizzard Albany just unionand will now begin negotiating issues such as pay, benefits and overtime rules as part of a larger work organization within the company.

Diablo IV is a particularly important game for fans who have been looking forward to the latest game in the series ever since extensions for Diablo III began to unwind. Some developers The Washington Post were skeptical about whether the developer would meet its latest planned release date of June 2023, but were equally skeptical that management would be willing to postpone it again. The sale of Activision Blizzard to Microsoft is expected to close the same month.

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