WoW Classic Dev Brian Birmingham Resigns Over Stack Ranking Policy

brian birmingham resignation

Bloomberg has published an article detailing the departure of the Classic WoW Co-Lead developer Brian Birmingham, who is leaving because of harsh ranking policies mandated by Blizzard’s parent company, Activision-Blizzard.

Stack Ranking is a performance review system that rates employee performance and usually has negative consequences for low-rating individuals. In Blizzard’s case, this policy, which has largely gone out of practice, was enacted in 2021 and required managers to assign a poor “developing” rating to at least 5% of the staff reported to them.

Managers were denied their request to include themselves in that 5% quota, and the consequences of these reviews included reduced profit-sharing eligibility, and they would be factored into future considerations, like raises and promotions.

When contacted by a rep from HR to confirm his resignation, Birmingham informed them that he would be resigning but would consider a return if these ranking policies were reversed; at this point, he was terminated.

Brian Birmingham has been a development fixture for Blizzard titles since he joined the company in 2006. At this time, it’s unclear what’s in store for the future of Classic WoW without one of its most critical developers, but surely he will be missed.

Perhaps this protest will positively impact the management culture at Activision-Blizzard as a whole and hopefully see the reversal of these harsh policies and other obstacles that contribute to a toxic work environment. Only time will tell.

About the Author


I am an avid WoW Classic player and love Druid, Priest, and Rogue and look forward to maining a DK in Wrath. When I'm not gaming or writing, I'm catching up on reading and spending time with my family, my parent's dogs, and my pet snake, Gloria.

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