Blizzard Secrets spilled by a former QA and GM employee.

Former QA and GM Spills Blizzard Secrets?


A person who claims to have been a Blizzard employee from 2006-2012, working in Tech Support, QA, and as a WoW GM took part in a spontaneous AMA on Reddit today. There’s no real proof that this person is legit, but she sounds pretty authentic in her knowledge of internal company function and politics. There’s zero secret game info and almost no mention of Diablo 3, but quite a bit about GMing in WoW, company policies for user help in that game, catching gold botters, dealing with developers, dishy details about which game devs are the most arrogant, why they ignored DoTA and let others cash in on their game, and much more.

Selected quotes, and no, they don’t go in our BLUE formatting.

Can you expand on your duties as QA? Were you able to test raid content? If so, did(does) Blizzard hire ex-hardcore raiders to do this?
BlizzardThrowaway: We tested everything from D3, WoW, SC2, Battlenet. There were specific QA teams designated to each game, and within those teams were people testing different aspects of it. I know there was a team that did nothing but raids, but I heard it was pretty boring and deadend.

Austin is much bigger than Irvine, however it lacks the proximity to the main campus where most of the events take place.

Many people took D3 as a complete failure from Blizzard, however a few as me think it was a good game (obviously is not D2 and never is going to be). We all hear the complaints and disappointment from the players, but as a QA was there ever anything or a moment were you thought it would cause such a mess?
BlizzardThrowaway: I worked on the Battle.net portion of QA, so we had to test WoW, D3 and SC2. Let me tell you, Bnet SUCKS. Now that that’s out of the way, I think you’re going to get this mixed reaction to D3 with everyone at Blizzard too. There were plenty of people who loved the game, and there were plenty who thought it didn’t do the series justice. I never played any of the Diablo games prior to working at Blizzard, so I really have no opinion. I can say, though, that when I did play through it during testing, I wasn’t that impressed. I know most people were annoyed with the storyline itself, but then again, Blizzard has never really been know for their strong stories.

Click through for many more quotes of the interesting bits. Skip to the last section if you just want to read snarky comments about which of the devs aren’t (allegedly) the nicest of people.

Why does the story suck in all Bliz games now?
BlizzardThrowaway: Why does it suck? Money. They have a lot of it and don’t give a shit if the story sucks or not.

Metzen became so internally powerful and bigheaded that the people with actual creative talent could no longer reign him in, or does he simply not give a shit anymore
BlizzardThrowaway: This. I really can’t say why the storyline for any of the games sucks the way it does because I’m not a writer or dev, so I couldn’t even make that call. I don’t know what goes on in the minds of those guys, or why they put out the content that they do. We all know it’s bad and inconsistent, but that’s the way they want it for whatever reason. I do think they place more emphasis on gameplay than storyline, which is why it’s the way it is. But I also do believe Metzen has the monopoly on all creative direction when it comes to the story, so if it doesn’t sound good, no one can really do anything about it.

Diablo 3

Do you think the majority of Blizzard views Diablo 3 as a massive failure and that it didn’t live up to the hype?
BlizzardThrowaway: I think everyone was pretty satisfied with D3 because there were a shit ton of people who worked really hard on it, so bias comes into play with it. But all in all I feel like D3 was generally a success, although I know there were many people who felt otherwise.

Where does the auction house cut go?
BlizzardThrowaway: Good question. No fucking idea.

I assume it goes into the abyss, but I want to believe it goes the the user, with the userID 1.
BlizzardThrowaway: I’m sure someone is making a fucking fortune.

Many people took D3 as a complete failure from Blizzard, however a few as me think it was a good game (obviously is not D2 and never is going to be). We all hear the complaints and disapointment from the players, but as a QA (I read you mention you were a D3 QA for a while), was there ever anything or a moment were you thought it would cause such a mess?
BlizzardThrowaway: I worked on the Battle.net portion of QA, so we had to test WoW, D3 and SC2. Let me tell you, Bnet SUCKS. Now that that’s out of the way, I think you’re going to get this mixed reaction to D3 with everyone at Blizzard too. There were plenty of people who loved the game, and there were plenty who thought it didn’t do the series justice. I never played any of the Diablo games prior to working at Blizzard, so I really have no opinion. I can say, though, that when I did play through it during testing, I wasn’t that impressed. I know most people were annoyed with the storyline itself, but then again, Blizzard has never really been know for their strong stories.

Titan

Tell us what you know about Titan. Come on.
BlizzardThrowaway: Well it’s been a while since I’ve heard anything, but I will say that if it goes how they were explaining it to us during our Show & Tells, then it’s going to be pretty fucking badass, and may even kill, or slightly hinder WoW. It’s that sweet of an idea. Let’s just hope they don’t fuck it up. >_>

How do you feel about Titan being “delayed” until 2016. Word on the street is that they’ve scrapped a lot of the concepts and moved devs onto other projects.
BlizzardThrowaway: Well that blows if it’s true. I liked the concept they were going with, but things change. Ghost.

Is it WoW in space?
BlizzardThrowaway: lol no, although that would be funny. I will say that it’s something you haven’t seen from Blizzard before. A different direction in gaming style.

Do you think developers there care more about the gamers and the amount enjoyment them and others get from the game, or are they more focused on “What’ll attract a bunch of new people? How can we get people to pay more?” Also, do you think the new “Titan” game is going to overtake WoW and other MMOs, and become a huge success?
BlizzardThrowaway: I do think that the devs want people to have a good experience, but I also think a lot of it is how to get more money flowing into their pockets. That game makes so much money it’s ridiculous. The devs would get bonuses that were enough to buy a new car. I would say that there are a lot of greedy devs working there, but there are also a lot of devs who really love the game, what they do, and the fans they make it for.

As far as Titan goes, I do feel like it’s going to blow a lot of things out of the water if it goes the way they explained to us. I’m actually excited for it. and I don’t really play Blizzard games.

Starcraft 2

Why the hell did starcraft 2 take so long?
BlizzardThrowaway: lol that was totally up to the Devs for that one. I have no idea why it took so long, but I can tell you that while I personally wasn’t working on it during that time, my friends were doing QA for it and it was basically hell for them. Working 14 days straight, 12-14 hours a day, non-stop. I feel like the devs wanted it to be perfect before they released it so they could prove to everyone that they were the shit. In reality, though, I just think they didn’t have their shit together enough and couldn’t collaborate properly to get it out on time.

Whoa. Huge SC fan here. Expand on this? They always come across as nice guys, even if they are a bit stubborn to make balance patches.
BlizzardThrowaway: I’ll say that working with SC2 devs can be challenging because they don’t tend to want to listen to your suggestions. They can also come across as quite dickesh because they feel they can do no wrong. Mind you there are some very nice devs on that team that actually give a shit, but some of the more “esteemed” devs have a superiority complex for sure.

World of Warcraft

Did you ever busted any people using bots or gold sellers? If so how you dealt with them?
BlizzardThrowaway: Oh yeah all the time as a GM. That was the best part, IMO. With bots you would get a report from a player, hop on the game to check it out, and get a Senior to visually confirm that it was a bot and then slam them with the ban hammer. Same thing went for gold sellers. Those were even more fun because gold sellers got their gold from compromising someone’s account, taking all their shit and selling it, then taking the gold and selling it to other players. What we would do is follow the gold trail, through logs, and take back any gold, or items purchased with said gold, and recover it to restore back to the compromised player. Then we would give a nice fat action to the sellers account, which would usually result in them getting the boot.

That’s what I think people who buy WoW gold never understood. The gold didn’t come from Chinese farmers just using bots all day to get gold. No, it came from Chinese hackers who hacked people’s accounts, stripped their character clean, and then sold the gold to you online at a profit. Shitty.

So reports really helped, woa nice, I reported a few of them, I would wake up in the morning to farm something before the rest would start playing and watching those guys there all the time made me angry. I see how it works now, thank you for your response! Amazing AmA btw! I always liked to hear what Blizzard employes have to say.
BlizzardThrowaway: Oh yeah reports helped a ton because we were never really in game the majority of the time, so there was no real way of knowing who was botting or being a dick unless someone reported it to us. Believe me, banning people like that was our favorite thing to do, so we loved getting those reports lol.

Why’s Ghostcrawler such an unrepentent shitheel?
BlizzardThrowaway: hahahahaha, welcome to the majority of devs at Blizzard.

That doesn’t really surprise me, but at least most of them are better about obfuscating it when they’re dealing with their player base.

Was he as much of a self-absorbed asshole in-person as he is on the fourms/on twitter?
BlizzardThrowaway: Oh yes he was. I can tell you a story of this time were our Customer Service department had a new policy where any new hires, no matter what department you were hired into, would have to sit with a Game Master for a few hours and see what it was like to be the face of Blizzard, and how hard our job was. Well they decided to include the executives on this one as well, and one day Ghostcrawler was scheduled to shadow a guy on my team. He basically spent the entire time on his phone texting, checking emails, or just leaving for long periods of time to make phone calls. He was so checked out from the experience that he left early because he was just too good to sit there with lowlife GMs. At least that’s the impression we got.

Inside Blizzard

how much did you get paid in qa?
BlizzardThrowaway: If you’re hired into QA from outside the company, it’s $12/hour. Hired from inside the company, it’s $14/hour. I made more as a GM, but that was because of tenure.

How well, or badly, do devs in big-name gaming companies really get paid. What about unpaid overtime and conditions/benefits in general. Based on all of this, would you recommend the gaming industry to devs currently in school/training?

BlizzardThrowaway: If you can get in with a decent company, you should make decent money. Devs at Blizzard get paid a lot. The Cinematics team is on par salary wise with movie studios.

Did you like working there? What did you major in? Any plans now?
BlizzardThrowaway: It had it’s highs and lows, but overall it was a great experience. I didn’t take it as seriously as other people did just because video games were never a passion of mine, but it was one of the best places to work. Mike Morhaime is a really nice guy too.

What role do QA people play in decisions about the game, such as lore or boss mechanics? Do you have a big suggestion box or have a random great idea that you can share easily?
BlizzardThrowaway: QA didn’t really have any say in what went into the game, or what was really fucking stupid and shouldn’t be in there at all, but we did have a suggestion forum internally where we could post our ideas to the devs. The problem was that most of the devs were very full of themselves and believed that we didn’t know any better, and we were just there to test the games, and apparently couldn’t even do that right in their eyes, so most of our suggestions were laughed off.

I know some GMs enjoyed adding a bit of personality to their interactions with players (For instance, I had a bit of a conversation with a GM about GnomeBall, a variant on football/soccer using Gnomes as the ball, with nets weaved with Dwarf beards). How much leeway did Blizzard give you on this? Any kind of story that sticks in your head?
BlizzardThrowaway: Yeah, back in the day we were expected to be “professional” and not get too cutsie with our conversations. We had a department called QC (Quality Control) in which their job was to review our conversations and give us grades on them. I won’t even do into how horrible and useless that department was, but thankfully they don’t exist anymore.

Anyway, later on we were able to personalize our greetings and have more fun with players, so the more creative GMs would create personas that they would use with players. It made things way more fun and a better experience I think, but there were definitely some players who didn’t appreciate it lol. I do remember this one GM had some macro where they were a Gnome or something who would emote throwing glitter in your face. That didn’t go over very well when they got an irate player who was not in the mood to have glitter thrown in their virtual face lol.

I recall chatting with the “glitter throwing Gnome” GM! And IIRC, I think I gave them a perfect score everywhere on the little survey that they prompted us to fill in after each intervention.
BlizzardThrowaway: Also, a thing to note about that scoring system…it’s pretty fucked up on the internal side. For example: Let’s say you really liked your GM, but weren’t TOTALLY satisfied enough to give the experience all 5’s, so instead you give them all 4’s, or maybe some 4’s and 5’s. Well GMs are graded on how many “perfect survey scores” they get, and are rated with a 1 or 0 point system. Basically if you get all 5’s, you get 1 point, and anything else is a 0. Pretty fucked up right? Well if you get too low of an average score per quarter, you have the potential to lose your job. Yeah…and they think this is an improved rating system.

The real problem we had as GMs is just being treated as if we were actually valued by the company, which we were not. Yes there were bad seeds for sure, but it wasn’t just the GM department, it was rampant in other “higher” departments too. For instance, there was a pretty higher up dev who was hired from outside the company, who was found through our internal affairs department to have participated in some really shading going ons, i.e. selling game cards for money to players. He was found out, given a slap on the wrist, and got to keep his job. Now if that were a GM, they’d be out the door in a split second.

The other problem was that GMs took a lot of shit from players, and worked long hours because of shit breaking in the game because QA fucked up and didn’t report something to the devs before a patch went out and we had to deal with the fallout from it. We really weren’t given a lot of credit for cleaning up their mess, and it created a lot of tension between our department and theirs. Not only that, but when Blizzard moved to what is now the Blizzard Campus, there was no room for the GM department, so we got sent to another random building a mile or so away while QA and Cinematics got new buildings right across the street from the Campus. Talk about alienation. Another reason there was so much disconnect between GMs and the rest of the company.

IncGamers is not passing editorial approval or veracity on these comments, which are those of their authors. And yes, Reddit is notoriously infested by haters of everyone and everything, as you see by the tone of most of the questions. We shared this transcript since it’s an interesting read and earned a lot of attention today. Our purpose is to inform the community of interesting things.

Comments

You're not logged in. Register or login to post a comment.
  1. Well, the “full of themselves” part really seems legit.

  2. Fake! I dont belive in this sorry, another sad Gaming nerd who wants to be cool!! Get life you loser!!

    • You’re a loser in reality. Getting so worked up just because someone said some bad words about your god (blizzard).

      Idiot.

  3. Fake, fake and fake….

  4. @”Let me tell you, Bnet SUCKS”

    I’d probaly say that, too, if I had worked on the Battle.net QA team all day long.

  5. Legit or not, she says what most of the Blizzard games consumers are feeling, especially about bnet sucking and the devs being full of themselves.

  6. If you go through the entire reddit, it doesn’t appear to be fake. And it’s quite a good read, I totally recommend.

  7. I wanted this to be legit. But this person had ample opportunity to reveal details about Titan and didn’t. I’m calling bull on this.

  8. yea def seems legit… and blizzard would sue you to pieces as they would have most def signed a secrecy page in their contract.

  9. “BlizzardThrowaway: Why does it suck? Money. They have a lot of it and don’t give a shit if the story sucks or not.”

    Ehhh, this makes me suspicious. I can get quotes like this from any typical forum troll.

    Still a fun read.

  10. I remeber a guy who said he was part of the QA team and used to give a lot of details about the game. I don´t remember what happened with him, but it was said that the info he leaked was false. Seems to be the same case here, although he isn´t actually leaking anything.

    • You speak of D3 Here guy. All those posts are archived in the forum.

      http://diablo.incgamers.com/forums/showthread.php?803902-D3Here-Again-Questions-and-Answers

      And as you say, he was totally fake, as became evident as soon as more info was revealed. But most people thought he was fake all along, and it was almost like a fan fiction version of D3’s development; just something amusing to read.

      This ex-GM on Reddit sounds much more legit to me. Knows all sorts of Bliz internal procedures and isn’t making wild grandiose claims, plus her Bliz nameplate photo looks legit. Furthermore, I have spoken to a lot of Bliz employees, past and current, and while I can’t go into a ton of detail… there’s nothing in this Reddit chat that contradicts the sort of thing I’ve been told by multiple people. About how QA and GMs and such interface with devs.

      Admittedly, that’s pretty much universal in the industry. Read a few of the hundreds of user tales on Trenches to get roughly the same thing with every company.

      http://trenchescomic.com/

  11. It isn’t hard to quote popular opinion to get attention, people love having their biases confirmed and people love attention, put the two together and you’ve got a self-feeding system where everyone comes off feeling justified.

  12. I dunno. It seems legit. It’s more of a disgruntled ex-employee type of perspective, but that makes it seem more legit to me tbh. The facts / opinions he/she spills seems to be more about what mattered to him/her rather that what the audience wants to hear. This adds a bit more sincerity to it imo. Interesting.

  13. Around 6 billion people could tell you the exact same about any company in the world.

    The lack of detail is astonishing btw. Not telling anything about Titan ? Seriously it is an anonymous statement.

    Also the supposed hourly pay shows the imposter Has NO clue about contracts, so he’s probably an 18 year old teenager without ANY experience.

    The immature nature of this video game hobby surprises me every day.

Comments are closed.