Chris Metzen was a pillar in making Blizzard Entertainment the successful video company it is today. Although his official title was the Senior VP of Story and Franchise Development, his impact on gaming is seen throughout works he helped create: Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft all had a bit of his magic touch to them. Like it or not, World of Warcraft is a cornerstone of gaming history. A shining example of what online gaming is capable of.
According to Business Insider, Metzen’s retirement plans were announced internally this past Monday to Blizzard staff.
If the reports are true, he picked a perfect time to make his exit. The Warcraft movie might’ve bombed with critics, but it was a hit with audiences at the Box Office (specially in China). On top of that, World of Warcraft recently launched their new Legion expansion. Which many members of the player-base have come to describe as “not too shabby”.
Although Chris Metzen’s presence in development will surely be missed, there’s a sense of pride in knowing what was accomplished during his time at Blizzard Entertainment.
UPDATE: Metzen confirmed his departure with a letter to the community, posted over on the World of Warcraft forums.
I had just turned twenty years old when I started working at Blizzard. Seems like a lifetime ago. Guess it was. Those first few years were the start of a very grand adventure for me, one that would take me around the world, introduce me to thousands of wonderful geeks just like me—and ultimately shape the course of my adult life.
Of course when I started, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to make games or build entertainment products.…
But I had an insatiable passion for ideas. For stories. For heroes.
My only real training before joining Blizzard was the long-running D&D campaign I had with my closest friends—Sam, Mike P., Daniel, and Mikey C. (you know who you are, boys…HAMRO!). Building ideas—vast worldscapes, characters, and plotlines with my friends was my first great love. I lived for it. It was a safe space amid the tension and change of some rough teenage years. The grand refuge of D&D was a glorious meeting of minds and imaginations where I felt I truly belonged.
It was a space where friendship and imagination were inextricably linked.
The sharing of ideas on the fly, the crazy, unexpected turns other players would take—it stretched our imaginations in ways we’d never have dreamt of on our own. I loved how roleplaying through adventures taught us so much about each other—and, more often than not, ourselves. Imagining together helped us make sense of the crazy world we were growing up in. It made us stronger together.
I wouldn’t really understand the depth of it for many years, but I had learned an important truth from my friends back then:
Creativity is relational.
Looking back at my years at Blizzard, I see now how profoundly this idea has shaped my career. I see how profoundly my friends and coworkers at Blizzard have shaped me as a person.
For nearly twenty-three years I’ve had the very distinct privilege of shaping worlds and building games with the brightest creative minds in entertainment. I’ve walked with giants (and stood on some giants’ shoulders, too).
In short, I’ve had the time of my life.
I pretty much had the coolest job ever—but the truth is, sometimes it was really hard. Building games with dozens of brilliant, passionate alpha-geeks with their own red-hot instincts and perspectives can be pretty tricky. Coming to consensus about certain design decisions, story motifs, or courses of art direction takes a lot of communication, patience, and “give and take.” It stretches you. Sometimes it wasn’t all that pretty. But engaging with your teammates and collaborating through the potential quagmire of all that creative tension is where the real magic happens.
It’s not just the decisions you come to—or even the final shape of the product you craft.… It’s bigger than that—and infinitely more important. True collaboration builds trust—and trust is the basis of all lasting relationships. With trust you build more than just a great product.
You build a TRIBE…that can build anything.
A family of craftsmen.
That’s what Blizzard has been for me. My second family, through all of life’s ups and downs, it’s always been there. The great, geeky backdrop of my life. I don’t just mean “the job” or even the creative mission—but the people. The people who over and over lifted me up, believed in me—and pushed me to find my potential as both an artist and as a leader all these years.
To my Blizzard brothers and sisters…I wish I had the words.
Everything just sounds…trite.
All I can think of is…
You helped me believe in myself and achieve every one of my wildest dreams.
I am forever grateful to you.
I love you all with everything I’ve got.
And to all of you out there in Blizzard’s vast gaming community—those of you I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person and all of you around the world I’ve only heard about—thank you.
Thank you all for letting me be a special part of your community. For letting me belong with you. We’ve shared countless adventures together and I’ve always been overwhelmed and humbled by your passion for our games as well your commitment to each other. Thank you for all the BlizzCon hugs, smiles, handshakes, and stories over the years. You will never know how much you’ve all touched my heart and inspired me to give my all into this craft.
With that said, I’ll try to get down to the point, here. I’ve come to a turn in the road. A new, far quieter chapter in my life looms ahead.
I am retiring.
Hangin’ up my guns.
Takin’ the last gryphon out of Stormwind.
You get the picture.
Crazy, I know.
It’s a massive change for me, but it’s one I’ve been looking forward to for a while now. It’s ironic given the fact that things have never been better or more energized at Blizzard. Just this year alone has been incredible.
The launch of Overwatch.
The Warcraft feature film.
I’ve never been more proud of Blizzard and the quality of its products than I am now. It’s remarkable that even after all these years we can still reach new heights and take the world for an amazing ride. I believe Blizzard’s future is brighter than ever.
I won’t lie—it’s going to be really hard stepping away from these worlds that I love. But I’m content that I’m leaving them in the hands of the most passionate, talented, and dedicated craftsmen ever assembled.
I can’t wait to see where Blizzard’s worlds go next—and to experience them first-hand like everyone else does. As a fan. As an adventurer. Right back to the start.
That’s just so cool…
The reason I use the word “retire” is because I’m not going to some other company or starting up new projects or anything remotely like that. It’s been a long, amazing stretch of years. Now it’s time to slow it down. Rest. Lay around on the couch and get fat. Well, fatter.…
Seriously though, I’ll be focusing on the one thing that matters most to me in all the world—my family. They’re the core of my life and the source of my deepest joy and inspiration. In addition to raising our two little ones, we recently welcomed our new baby into the family! Being home with them all, having time and space to really live…to love my wife with all my strength…that’s my career now.
And I’ve never been happier.
Peace out, y’all.
I love you all.
I’ll see you online.
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