Covington said that higher ups only learned of the lines after “string lock,” which in developer parlance means the stage in development when they can no longer change lines of text or add new ones. “I had a date weeks before the content went live where I needed to lock my dialogue in and then move on to other things to fix to get the patch ready,” he said.
The “back to the office” line is relevant to many companies in the post-pandemic world, including Activision Blizzard, which is forcing employees back to the office at least three days a week. Activision employees saw this change April 10, while Blizzard staff are expected to return to the workplace on July 10.
Covington said he was actually “in the camp of being excited for [return to office] because of how it benefited my personal working style” but he still “championed for folks to be offered the work style they required.”
Gizmodo reached out to Activision Blizzard for comment, but we did not immediately hear back. The treasure goblin character has been a part of WoW since 2017, introducing during the Diablo 20th anniversary world event.
Covington said he sent a lengthy formal email to HR and leadership after his termination where he said that the lines passed through the approval process and made it all the way to the marketing stage without complaint. He also pointed out that the game publisher kept the social media promotions for the WoW loot goblin up during his termination process and shortly afterward.
Activision Blizzard is especially concerned about its public image right now. CEO Bobby Kotick has been doing cleanup over allegations the company facilitated a toxic work environment that included sexual harassment. The company settled a $35 million lawsuit over those claims of workplace harassment earlier this year. Not only that, but Activision Blizzard is in the midst of an anticipated $68.7 billion buyout by Microsoft. While the deal was approved by the EU, Activision is trying to appeal the UK’s decision to block the deal from going forward.