‘The Old Blizzard Is Gone’ Diablo Creators Talk About How The Company Has Changed Since They Left

‘The Old Blizzard Is Gone’ Diablo Creators Talk About How The Company Has Changed Since They Left
Credit: TantrisOST via YouTube

The creators of Diablo spoke about Blizzard and how it’s changed since they were on board.

The founders of Blizzard North, David Brevik, and brothers Erich and Max Schaefer spoke to PC Gamer’s Steven Messner about the “Blizzard Empire.”

Brevik told Messner that Blizzard has completely changed since they were there.

“When we quit, there was like 180 employees total. There’s thousands now. The whole empire is different, and Activision didn’t have any influence. At that point, it was just Blizzard and then some anonymous corporate owner, Vivendi, or whoever. That was it. And so now [Blizzard is] a video game empire that has to appease
shareholders and all that sort of stuff.”

This is a well-known private company vs. public corporation dichotomy. When a company becomes a publicly-traded company, the amount of equity they can pull in is immense, especially if they are a promising game developer like Blizzard Entertainment.

So, Blizzard got all this equity money to use on creating more games by increasing the number of employees, building more offices, and raising salaries. However, a product of that is appeasing shareholders that are expecting management to do everything they can to maximize profit.

The first thing one learns about having a publicly-traded company is that every action made must benefit the shareholder.

Brevik mentions to Messner that what’s happened with Blizzard is something that happens to virtually every company that grows into a large company. Back when the three were on board working for Blizzard’s subsidiary Blizzard North, they never talked about shareholders. Furthermore, they didn’t talk about the Chinese government and how they would be impacted by the decisions the company makes.

The most significant controversy with Blizzard this year is their handling of blitzchung, a professional esports gamer who made a pro-Hong Kong statement at a Blizzard ran esports event, which was being live-streamed.

With blitzchung’s banning, many gamers and critics alike viewed this decision by Blizzard as a clear indication they were operating with Chinese money and that they had pressure from the Chinese government to silence blitzchung.

Brevik thinks this is a conspiracy theory, and he believes that the real reason why is because of the enormous corporate nature of Blizzard.
Blizzard was in a no-win situation, Brevik believes.

Blizzard president J. Allen Brack clarified his position on the blitzchung matter after Blizzcon 2019, and he reiterated that the reason they suspended blitzchung was to avoid Blizzard esports events becoming politicized.

Here is the apology at Blizzcon 2019 and notice that blitzchung was never directly referenced, which created some controversy of its own.

Brevik understands the move because if Blizzard didn’t do anything, then its esports events would become an incubator for free speech, and any random political movement at an event could follow.

Shareholders do not want politics in a gaming company. As an owner of the business, stockholders’ value anything that will bring more money into the business, and in Blizzard’s eyes, the objectively divisive statement from blitzchung would do the opposite of that.

“They had to do something, but was it perfectly handled? Probably not. I mean, that’s why they apologized,” Brevik said.

Blizzard has been hit hard because of the blitzchung controversy, including losing sponsorship, protests, and the contradiction of executives.

What was Blizzard North?

Blizzard North was the Bay area branch of Blizzard Entertainment, and it was founded back in 1993. The original name was Condor, but Blizzard Entertainment purchased the company and subsequently renamed Blizzard North.

The games that came out of Blizzard North are Diablo, Diablo 2, and the expansion Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction. NFL Quarterback Club ‘95, Justice League Task Force, and NFL Quarterback ’96 were developed under Condor.

In 2003, when Blizzard North was working on Diablo 3, there was an exodus of employees, including Brevik and the Schaefer brothers. A determining factor for why the three left was the corporate nature of Blizzard, becoming so big that it was becoming so focused on share holders.

Blizzard North was closed in 2005, and Blizzard Entertainment scrapped and restarted Diablo 3.

Head over to PC Gamer to read the entire interview between Steve Messner and the three founders.