Mike Morhaime Steps Down as Blizzard President


It’s the end of an era as Mike Morhaime steps down as President of Blizzard and J. Allen Brack takes over at the top of the company.

FROM MIKE MORHAIME

Dear Members of the Blizzard Community,

When Blizzard’s founder Allen Adham first invited me to join him in creating Silicon & Synapse (our original name), nothing could have prepared me for the amazing adventure that we would share for the next 27 years. Our original mission and values consisted of four simple words that formed our foundation: “We make great games.” We crafted that statement before we had even released our first game, but we were committed to living up to it.

After many years of working with some of the industry’s most talented people to create games and worlds for you to play in, I’ve decided it’s time for someone else to lead Blizzard Entertainment. I will now serve as an advisor to the company I so love and admire. My duties as president of Blizzard will be assumed by my friend, colleague, trusted advisor, and longtime steward of World of Warcraft, J. Allen Brack.

J. is an inspiring leader who has shown unwavering commitment to Blizzard’s community in his 12 years with the company. His leadership on World of Warcraft leveraged his vision, creativity, and commitment to quality, and together with the rest of the dev team helped deliver an experience that is unprecedented in our industry. I couldn’t be happier for J. and know that Blizzard will continue to make great games with him at the helm.

I am grateful to all of the hardworking and talented people at Blizzard for their dedication and creativity. Their belief in our mission and care for our players has helped Blizzard reach greater heights than I ever could have imagined.

I am also grateful to all of you in the community. We have been through so much together. Not only have you been with me through many of the greatest moments and biggest triumphs of my life, but you have also been there through some of the most difficult. I am fortunate to have been able to meet many of you in person, while the many messages, emails, Tweets, Reddit discussions, and forum posts have provided an unbelievable connection as well. Even Twitch chat. It has always brought me joy, comfort, and inspiration to see the beacons of brilliance, voices of reason, and the passion that exists and evolves every day in all of our communities.

When we started Blizzard we just wanted to make great games. What we realized is that the games we create are really just a framework for communities and human interaction. When we look back, what we often find that’s most lasting and meaningful from our experiences in games are the relationships we create and foster. You have given me the inspiration and drive to pour my heart and life into what I do. I literally couldn’t have done any of it without you. We have created these worlds, but you have given them life, through your passion, fan art, cosplay, videos, and in so many other ways.

I truly believe that this amazing community has the potential to be a shining light to the rest of the industry by setting a positive example of inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance toward others. In the words of one of Blizzard’s core values: remember to always play nice; play fair. I know this community is capable of changing the world.

It has been an honor to serve this community for over 27 years, and I thank you for your many years of support. I look forward to being a member of the community alongside you. See you on Battle.net!

Your fellow Blizzard gamer,

Mike Morhaime


FROM J. ALLEN BRACK

Blizzard community,

Today has been a swirl of emotions. First, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to Mike. His work on some of our industry’s most iconic games is the reason I came to Blizzard. Not only is he an inspiring leader, but he’s also been a wise and patient mentor to me during my time at Blizzard. And he’s been a good friend. Joining the World of Warcraft team and my favorite game company nearly 13 years ago was an unimaginable dream. Now, to be chosen to lead Blizzard into the future is both a huge honor, and a tremendous responsibility.

To do that, I’ll have the help of dedicated and talented Blizzard employees around the world who all share the same mission we have always pursued—to connect and engage the world through the most epic entertainment experiences, ever. Each of us is influenced by Blizzard’s values and a player-first mindset, which serve as the foundation of our company. With these beliefs at the core of everything we do, we’ve been able to deliver great games across different genres and platforms. And there is more to come—we’re working on more games now than at any point in Blizzard’s history.

As I transition from leading a development team to the entire company, I’ll also have the support of our team of experienced leaders at Blizzard. I’m pleased to announce two additions to our executive leadership team who will be instrumental as we move forward. Ray Gresko, a 10-year veteran of Blizzard who helped create both Overwatch and Diablo III, is now our chief development officer. Allen Adham, Blizzard’s original founder and lead designer of World of Warcraft, will join the executive team while continuing to oversee development of several new games. The knowledge and experience that Ray and Allen bring, in addition to the talent already on the leadership team, will be indispensable in helping move Blizzard into the future.

One thing that won’t change going forward—our deeply held commitments that are core to who we are as a company: to gameplay first, to quality in everything we do, and to listening to and partnering with our community. BlizzCon, the IRL representation of our connection with the community, is just a month away and it’s a time of the year that Blizzard employees look forward to the most. And as usual, we have a few surprises.

I want to close by thanking Mike for 27 years of amazing work: I am looking forward to your wisdom and guidance in your new role. And thank you for everything you’ve done to help create the company and the games we love.

J. Allen Brack

Tagged As: , | Categories: Blizzard People

Comments

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  1. We think we approve your promotion, but we don’t.

  2. Not much left of the original Blizzard anymore, is there? I guess it’s a little unrealistic to think that people would stay working on the same franchises for 20+ years but considering Blizzard is a company that puts out relatively few titles instead of dozens (or even hundreds) like other huge publishers, you’d think they’d try to stick to the source material closer. Starcraft and Diablo are more or less dead as a series. Don’t know how they handled Warcraft over the years, aside from changing the genre from RTS to MMO.

  3. Apparently they canceled the comic that was planned for “Diablo”.

    This might or might not be due to massive changes happening in the story for the actual game that is currently in development.

    http://diablo.blizzplanet.com/blog/comments/nycc-2018-titan-comics-diablo-has-been-cancelled

    • As for the WOW guy becoming President, this is probably a bad thing.

      Mike was “neutral” I think when it came to games, and I think he let game designers and dev teams create games with the high level of polish we all know.

      This new guy, in my opinion, was working on WOW for so long that he might be biased and have negative impacts on other franchises like Diablo. Diablo 3 was already heavily influenced by wow because of the majority of devs that worked on D3 actually came from WOW. Itemization is oversimplified and dumbed down beyond repair. Character development and skill trees have been thrown out the window, maps are all tiny and static, or consist of long tunnels that lead from A to B. The list goes on and on.

      I actually wonder how much damage this new President will cause to D4 before it launches and after launch.

      • While I’d advise skepticism regarding whatever the Blizz HQ team might be announcing there next month, I’m less worried about the WoW guy.
        It’s probably rather naive to think the company’s president of would concern himself with gameplay details. That’s what the game director is there for.

        • Definitely, but Mike transitioned into a CEO position early on in Blizzard’s history and would drive the bigger picture of the company, rather than involve himself in game-design.

          I am not saying the new guy will or should meddle in game-design affairs etc, but might be biased and driven to do so because of his recent past and associated responsibilities on the WOW projects for over a decade.

          It’s not easy to bake bread for 10+ years, and then become the bakery “chief” and just sit in the office for 8 hours a day thinking about where you want your bakery be in 5 or 10 years financially and product-wise.

          I think its plausible he will be drawn to meddle in game-design affairs, even if its just “advice” voiced spontaneously in a hallway or on coffee break. People that are directly in charge of the future of Diablo and other games might be influenced by this “new wow guy” president in a way that might have grave implications for game design and direction.

        • All of the Blizzard executive would have signed off on the Auction House in D3.

          So they’re all complicit. The majority of bad gameplay design stemmed from need to shoehorn the AH in.

  4. By the way: What’s up with the “Diablo: Reign of Terror” news going around?

  5. Just a sideway question to any Blizz familymember reading this, if any … :

    Why is there no crossinterdependence based on skillchoice/-usage over time as a way of player driven character individualization?

    Skillchanges due such interdependencies occuring through usage of the same skillsetup over time while taking previous periods of usage into account on a character to character basis for detail differentiations should make that rpg-mechanism possible to manage and still different from a character tree, even if you bring back a point based system as a hardpoint player driven character weighing option to base one his vision of the character in [from a players pov]. The intersting part would be to build out escalation threshholds, where synergieeffects between two to x skills come into permanence [gradually?] on the one or other skill in question and the permutations resulting out of this throughout the rest of the skillset.

    [Additional questions that came up following that line of thought: Should “metathreshholds” breached through permutations as above reflect back on the passive skillset, following above aproach? How to graphically differentiate breaching a threshhold via point investment vs. breaching it via item usage? Or through triggering item effects vs. affix accumulations?]

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