One of Diablo's original creators, David Brevik, has accused Blizzard of caring about profits more than its staff.
Brevik, who served as senior designer on the seminal Diablo way back in 1996, appeared on a livestream hosted by his wife Twitch streamer thejunglequeen after coming back - somewhat inebriated, as acknowledged by both his wife and Brevik himself - from a poker match.
Although the stream dates back to the beginning of October, it's picked up traction again in the wake of Blizzard's unveiling of Diablo Immortal. Blizzard faced an unprecedented backlash after it ended its BlizzCon opening ceremony with the announcement of a Diablo mobile game. The backlash kicked off on social media and websites such as Reddit as soon as the announcement was made, with almost universal criticism of the game and Blizzard.
"Oh my God, Fortnite is making a fucking shit-ton," Brevik said, purportedly speculating on the thoughts of Activision Blizzard's senior team (thanks, PCGN). "Overwatch isn't Fortnite. Why have you wronged us? Okay, we're going to get rid of the [employee] profit-sharing program. We don't like this. We don't like the fact that low-level employees make decent money at Blizzard. We're gonna get rid of this program because we need more profits to increase our stock price."
"We don't know if that's the case," thejunglequeen cautioned, to which Brevik replied: "Of course not! We don't know if any of this is the case. However, you can easily imagine this."
In a follow-up interview with Newsweek, Brevik acknowledged he had "no inside information" about employee benefits, and has subsequently admitted that while on stream he'd speculated that the cut-back was possibly why Blizzard co-founder Michael Morhaime stepped down last month as president, he didn't necessarily "believe it" to be true. In fact, it appears the profit-sharing programme is still an employee benefit and hasn't been revoked.
Interestingly though, as PCGN speculates, Brevik warned fans a month ago that he didn't expect a Diablo 4 announcement at BlizzCon, and told fans not to "get your hopes up".
A few people have been asking me on stream what I thought they would do and my response for months has been, "I doubt they will announce anything. Don't get your hopes up."— David Brevik (@davidbrevik) October 18, 2018
"A few people have been asking me on stream what I thought [Blizzard] would do and my response for months has been, 'I doubt they will announce anything. Don't get your hopes up'," he said to a fan on Twitter, way back in October. "I don't know anything about their plans, but I do know the many reasons it doesn't make sense to announce early anymore."