Blizzard has moved to reassure its European players that its customer support will not be impacted by the exit of over 100 staff by the end of 2018.
The company runs its main European customer service operation out of a huge office in Cork, Ireland that's home to hundreds of staff, and sources there have told Eurogamer over 100 people have voluntarily decided to accept money to leave later this month.
Sources inside Blizzard's Cork office, who asked to remain anonymous in order to protect their careers, told Eurogamer over 100 people have decided to leave the company, putting a significant strain on the customer service offering.
These people have taken advantage of a voluntary program that offers staff money to leave Blizzard. Sources involved in this told Eurogamer that in the last few months, this program has been offered to staff at the Cork office at least five times, and the amount of money offered has increased.
One source who took up Blizzard's offer, which amounted to a year's pay, said: "It was too good to pass up. This is voluntary, do not get me wrong. But when you see a pile a cash in front of you, over and over again, you start to lose hope and cannot see a great situation ahead."
More recently, we were told at least 100 agents, managers and back office staff will leave Blizzard at the end of December, and this, according to sources close to the office, has sparked concern about game support for Blizzard titles in the near future, with remaining staff left to pick up the slack.
"This means people will struggle to get the help they need and the people that are left in the office are being forced on to shifts they do not like to try and cover this massive loss," one source said.
In a statement issued to Eurogamer, Blizzard Entertainment confirmed staff were taking up its voluntary exit offer, but stressed it was not encouraging people to do so.
"The employees who are choosing to leave the company later this month are taking advantage of a voluntary and longstanding program we offer in various locations around the world. This program, which has proven popular in the past, gives eligible staff the option to make the most of incentives while proactively pursuing other career opportunities. No one is required or encouraged to participate in this program, but for those who do, we work hard to make it generous."
One source who expressed concern about Blizzard's ability to offer round-the-clock customer support for its games in Europe following the exit of staff, pointed to a tweet from Blizzard's European English language customer support account that announced callback and live chat services would be closed from 5pm as evidence this was already having an impact.
On 19/12 our callback and live chat services will be closed from 17:00, please open a ticket request if assistance is required.— Blizzard CS EU (@BlizzardCSEU_EN) December 19, 2018
Blizzard, though, said the level of customer service offered to European customers will remain unchanged.
"Our players are at the heart of everything we do and should continue to expect the same award-winning level of service from Blizzard today as they have received in the past. As you noted, on December 19 our call-back and live chat services were temporarily closed, a measure we occasionally take to allow us to respond to an unexpectedly high volume of contacts."
According to our sources, some staff at the Cork office are anxious for the future of the operation and unsure about the future. However, Blizzard told Eurogamer is has no plans to close the Cork site.
"We don't have plans to close our Cork site and it will continue to be an important part of our customer support service in Europe. Our community of players can rely on us to continue fielding a highly-trained, in-house staff of customer service professionals to assist with their needs."
The latest development in Cork comes after a recent Kotaku report revealed concern within Blizzard about its relationship with Activision.
According to Kotaku's report, this concern revolves around a new drive to cut costs at Blizzard. There is also a call for the developer to release more games more regularly following stagnating monthly active users (MUAs) across its titles.
Sources at Blizzard's Cork site backed this up, with one saying new boss J. Allen Brack had conducted video calls and live streams with the various company offices to answer questions from staff, and cost cutting for 2019 and "a lean" year were both mentioned.
"At this point it's causing stress and a lot of questions about people who settled here with families," said a source.
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