Diablo 3 Post-Jay Wilson

A fan asked what impact Jay’s departure would have on the continuing development (improvement) of D3, and got a reassuring reply from Lylirra.

So with Jay moving on to a new project and leaving the D3 team. What doe’s that imply for D3 as a whole will it be considered done?
Lylirra: I think Jay covered that point quite nicely in his message:

Jay Wilson: “The first thing I want to assure you all is that this will not negatively impact our ongoing support of Diablo III. The game was not made by one person, far from it, and the team that poured their passion and considerable talent into it isn’t going anywhere. We have lots of things planned for the future, and those plans will carry forward as normal. I also won’t be abandoning the team, and will remain available to them during the transition period while we determine who will take over duties as game director.”

The team structure isn’t changing, and we’ll be moving forward with development per usual. Jay will also be transitioning out of his role (not outright leaving), which means he’ll still be a resource until a new Game Director is found and had the chance to acclimate. 🙂

Unlike he D2 devs before him, I can’t say that I knew Jay Wilson. I interviewed him on the phone one time and met him face to face for about three seconds at a Blizzcon, but that was all business. So, like you guys, my knowledge of him came from his many, many interviews and other D3 newsworthy actions (he’s category tagged in 192 of our news posts) and I thought he generally did a good job in those.

It’s odd judging video game developers in interviews. We want them to be forthcoming and articulate and share good (new) info, but we don’t want them to be *too* slick and polished, since then they just feel like PR spokesmodels. I suppose a truly slick guy would learn to fake realism, but Jay’s interviews and conversations and opinions seemed real. He had to toe the Blizzard PR line most of the time, but he did a good job presenting new info at Blizzcon and other shows, and he seemed genuinely to want to share new info with the fans whenever he could (even when that backfired on him).

He gave some good interviews as well, especially when he wasn’t being badgered for new game info. See this one with AusGamers, conducted shortly before D3’s launch, for some long and thoughtful replies from a smiling and confident Jay, looking rested and relaxed after his post-crunch vacation, all ready for D3 to go live. (Pride goeth before a fall?)

"Resigned" to his fate?
“Resigned” to his fate?
As for the larger question about D3’s direction post-Jay… who knows? Seriously, who knows? I’ve had several people ask me what I think Jay’s departure from D3 will mean for the game, and I don’t really have an opinion. None of us outside of Blizzard have any real idea how the internal politics and power structure work, either within the D3 team or within the company at large.

There were dozens (hundreds) of people working on D3 and contributing ideas to it, and we have zero idea how many of those Jay agreed or disagreed with. He might have been the main voice behind some of the worst decisions in the game, or the sole defender fighting to retain some of the best features. (Or both. Or neither.) None of us know exactly what anyone did during D3’s development, which decisions were Jay’s etc. Thus there’s no way to know if D3 will be better, worse, or unchanged by a new Game Director.

Strictly from a PR perspective, this change probably benefits Blizzard’s PR. No one’s going to boycott D3 over Jay moving on, while plenty of the haters will rejoice. Jay was the public face of D3, and rightly or wrongly he was blamed for everything by players who aren’t happy with all or some of the game. The game’s been improving dramatically in recent patches, and while we don’t know how much of those were driven by Jay, it seems likely the current direction will continue, no matter whose name is atop the pyramid. And yes, vote coming soon to measure the fan consensus on Jay’s departure.

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23 thoughts on “Diablo 3 Post-Jay Wilson

  1. In my mind, he was the director, so it was entirely his responsibility as to what was presented to us when we purchased the product. It was his job to convince the higher ups if something needed to be changed or added in, or retained from the original etc. and this was something that he failed spectacularly to do.

    That he took the one franchise that I was waiting for a sequel for for over a decade and took it into the ground…well, I am not sorry he is gone at all. I also don’t think for a moment that D3 will be re-written, much like Final Fantasy XIV was. That would be admitting they were wrong, and no one at Activision-Blizzard has the balls to do what needs to be done.

    Thus we are left with a half-designed shell of a game that is a terrible continuation of the franchise. Hopefully the sequels will be scrapped, and a Diablo IV will be worked on by the remaining devs instead, maybe righting the wrongs that Jay Wilson created. I doubt it, though.

    As for where he ends up, my guess is Titan, to bring his “auction house” experience and “monotenization strategies” to their unknown game. I believe D3 was a test bed for these things, and I think they will rear their head in this MMO. That they had to destroy a franchise to test them will forever be against them. I know that I will not touch another Activision or Blizzard product again. (not that the Activision side was hard. The only thing I liked from them were the Guitar Heroes eons ago and the Ultimate Alliance games).

  2. I’m kind of sad to see him step down. Hopefully he did it because he genuinely felt it was the right decision to make, and not simply because the constant bitching from anonymous keyboard warriors got to him. Either way, good luck in the future, Jay.

  3. I’m not pro/anti jay, but i can say this… Diablo 3 has the best/most innovative skill system of any RPG game ever. I’m so glad that stupid skill tree system was scrapped in favor of what they have now. As far as storyline goes, Diablo 3 was kinda weak compared to Diablo 2. In a way, I’m kinda sad to see him go.

  4. I am pretty sure for 3 things:
    1.Jay WIlsone was noob,troll.I really hate this guy for me he is the face of the team that ruined Blizzard reputation to the ground.And the team that ruined my favorite game.
    2.I honestly can’t believe that Jay Wilson is still in Blizzard and get a new project.Are you kidding me?What kind of crap company do that ? Also he has to take the responsibility for that tremendous fail.Even Titan Quest is more addictive than D3.
    3. Because of this NOOB TEAM i will never buy any further Blizzard product without at least 2-3 months of investigation(what is ppls opinion)

    I think that is enough to illustrate the damage that those guys did to Good Old Blizzard. Welcome to greedyworld of Activision/Blizzard.

  5. Yeah seeing Flux trying to get Blizzs love back is a shame. D3 is broken in the very core of itself. No matter if Jay is resp. was the scapegoat for it or not. I’d dare to say that this game is unfixable (Tho, its still a good game, just not a worthy d2 sequel!!) in terms of repairing the damage thats been done already. Cant blame Jay for having to design a game around the Auction House (Thats what Pardo said, D3 was designed about the RMAH/AH).

    • So people who don’t agree with your current opinion on D3 don’t actually enjoy the game; they’re just trying to kiss up to Blizzard? I’m enjoying D3 a lot lately, and I’m eager for v1.07 in part since I’m mostly playing a Monk lately, and several of my main skills are getting a buff in the patch. This is optimism? It’s like some faint reflection of what all the players who have a Barb for their main have felt every day since um… launch day?

      Obviously there are things that could be better; I think the new crafting recipes are still pretty crap and the whole item system needs a lot more depth and variety, but the skills and monsters and graphics and sound and a lot of other things about D3 are excellent, and it’s a shame that general haterism and D2 rose tinted glasses and not playing since about July keep so many former fans from realizing it.

      • So you enjoy the game? LOOOOOOOOL
        The game is indeed unfixable.Sad sad sad…
        Items = crap
        Social system = crap
        Multiplayer = crap
        AH/RMAH = greed
        PvP = joke
        What else … ?
        Oh yeah… everyone quit.Only bots left…
        Tell me what exactly do you like in the game ?

      • Its only you who is trying to kiss up to Blizzards ass not me. Nor am i saying that i am the majority who dislikes DIII. you been following the recent development just as eager as i did and there was no mention of the AH Design decisions that no true Diablo would ever want, period. Bind on Account items is not Diablo. This whole World of Warcraft Itemizations just puts Blizzards in the same light as Electronic Arts who dont give a damn avout any Fanbase unless they stop spending money on it, hence Rob (No one ever blames the Producer for a bad movie) admitting all he cares about is counting money from a once loyal d2 fanbase.

        There is no need to love Blizzard anymore.

  6. Yeh the public figure is always the focus of hatred and love in games. It’s usually the CMs but if there is a predominant person from the dev team out there they will take the brunt of the design criticism.

    The buck stops with him and he presumably had to sign off on everything and could veto any systems or concepts he wasn’t interested in but it is a group vision, it isn’t Jay Wilson’s Diablo 3, it’s Blizzards. It was probably his management of the project that let it down.

    I agree, from a PR point of view, it was a smart decision.

    Love the gif btw Flux 🙂

  7. I wonder if this means that the Titan project has moved to another level. Maybe he’s head of that now.

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