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Blizzard Moves Money From Axed Bonus Program to Employee Salaries

UPDATED: Blizzard will no longer offer employees the Blizzard Holiday Plan, a lucrative end-of-year bonus program, according to the Activision Blizzard 2018 Proxy Statment. It will instead, a rep said on Thursday, integrate that money into the base salary of employees.

The program was instituted before the Activision Blizzard merger, according to GameSpot. The news comes just one day after Blizzard’s co-founder and president Michael Morhaime announced that he is stepping down and will be replaced by J. Allen Brack. Morhaime will still serve as a strategic advisor.

Although GameSpot originally reported that employees are losing their bonuses, that’s not the case, a Blizzard rep told Variety via email on Thursday.

“In December of 2017, Blizzard transitioned 100% of the Holiday Bonus into the base salary of employees. The Holiday Bonus program was implemented to provide a lump sum bonus at year end to make the Holidays special for Blizzard employees. However, when employees expressed that they wanted the flexibility of receiving that extra 10 percent as a part of their regular payroll, Blizzard made that change as part of our overall commitment to fair and competitive salaries. So no employee, including Mike, has lost out on that bonus money.”

Program participants’ salaries will be adjusted to apparently include an amount equal to 2017’s bonus payout. In a footnote, it notes that “Mr. Morhaime’s base salary was adjusted to reflect the inclusion of an amount equal to the payment he received under the Blizzard Holiday Plan for 2017 (i.e., $369,218).”

The loss of a bonus program drew concerns from some, as it comes at a tenuous time in the gaming industry, rife with layoffs and studio closures and a demand for better working conditions for game developers.

Blizzard, however, is having a good year. Just last month, a report from SuperData revealed that Blizzard’s “World of Warcraft” had a record number of subscribers since 2014, as players enjoyed the new Battle for Azeroth expansion.

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