Blizzard Brings Back Veteran Designer Amid Gaming Reorganization
Managers are now responsible for particular franchises in an effort to get games out the door faster.
As Blizzard Entertainment looks toward the future, it's returning to the past. The video game developer and publisher is bringing back Chris Metzen, once one of the company's most prominent writers and designers, to work as an advisor on the World of Warcraft team.
Known for his bombastic stage presence and for writing the stories behind many of Blizzard's best-known games, Metzen spent 23 years as a top creative developer before resigning in 2016.
His return comes as Blizzard's parent company Activision Blizzard Inc., is reshaping its corporate culture following a 2021 sexual misconduct scandal and awaits the outcome of a pending $69 billion acquisition by Microsoft Corp. Consummation of the deal is far from certain after the US Federal Trade Commission voted to sue to block the merger and the EU and UK are also taking a hard look at the tie-up.
Yet business continues as usual for the Irvine, California-based company, which recently released the mobile game Diablo Immortal and the shooter Overwatch 2 and plans to release Diablo IV in June. Blizzard has made several big changes in recent months, leaning on experienced veterans and reorganizing units as it seeks to boost staff morale and bolster its lineup of games. Until Diablo Immortal launched in June, the company had gone six years without releasing a new title, rankling executives at Activision and leading to heavier oversight from the top.
In addition to rehiring Metzen, Blizzard also recently elevated Allen Adham to chief design officer, a role that will have him overseeing many of the company's products. Adham co-founded Blizzard in 1991 and served in various roles before departing in early 2004 and then returning twelve years later to steer the company's fledgling incubation department.
In November 2021, Blizzard reorganized its video game units, placing general managers in charge of each of its big franchises such as Warcraft, Overwatch, Diablo and an unannounced survival game code-named Odyssey. These managers are tasked with building road maps for the franchises that the company hopes will facilitate releasing more games on a regular schedule. The reorganization and promotion of Adham haven't previously been reported.
John Hight, now general manager of Warcraft, alluded to the plans in a message announcing Metzen's return. “Chris's focus initially will be on World of Warcraft, then his work will expand to other projects across this growing franchise,' he wrote.
In recent years, Activision has taken a larger role in operations at Blizzard, leading to tension and the departure of key people, such as former Chief Executive Officer Mike Morhaime. Executives from Activision have pushed Blizzard to release games more frequently and to focus on profits.
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