Last year was one of the rockiest in the memory of PC gaming Blizzard Entertainment. The Diablo Malicious Announcement: Immortal at BlizzCon 2018 was just the beginning of a turbulent year of news with Blizzard breaking down hundreds of jobs, despite record profits, rumors of Activision's increasing cost-driven influence, and a huge international controversy between two Taiwanese casters and A pro Hearthstone player was banned when using his post-match interview to claim Hong Kong's independence from China.
At the New Zealand ExileCon Fan Convention of Path of Exile, this weekend I had the opportunity to converse with the founders of Blizzard North and the creators of Diablo, David Brevik, Erich Schaefer and Max Schaefer express their opinion on Blizzard's recent controversy. This interview, which contains views on Diablo 4, Blizzard's past and present, and China's turbulent gaming industry, will be fully released on PC Gamer later this week.
During our chat, I asked Brevik, Erich, and Max Schaefer when it was difficult to watch a company that had itself become involved in controversy over its construction last year, and when it felt like Blizzard had " somehow "changed" Brevik denied this and found that the only original Blizzard developers left are the chief art director Samwise Didier and President J. Allen Brack, with whom Brevik still chats regularly.
Old Blizzard is gone, "added Max Schaefer," when we quit, there were a total of 1
This change in the values and culture of Blizzard Entertainment is nothing new. It's something that "constantly happens to companies," said Brevik, and is a natural part of any business that grows into a massive business.
Brevik and the Shepherd brothers indicated that this was also the case during the development of Diablo 2, a constant battle for its bloody, satanic aesthetic between Blizzard North and Blizzard Entertainment, the company's head office, originally run by Mike Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce was founded. But as Blizzard continued to grow after the success of Diablo, Warcraft, and StarCraft, it became harder for the trio to focus on creative design and avoid corporate bureaucracy.
"I think the important thing is that we have not talked about shareholders value," said Erich Schäfer. "We have not talked about the Chinese government and what they may want, the only thing we ever talked about was what we wanted to do and what the fans wanted, it's obviously not the case, for better or worse I do not know." Do not blame them. You are a huge company. "
" You can not be as big and free as we are, and one of the reasons we left was to be more self-determined and not committed to a monstrous organization, "Max said Shepherd. "Nothing is the way it is. We would not have survived the growth in any way if we had stayed there. It just drove us crazy, because we just have one team and want to do the games we want to do. "That's possible in a small group, as Blizzard used to be, and it's in a media conglomeration that exists at the moment "Not possible."
Although Brevik, Max, and Erich Schaefer left Blizzard in 2003 and never had to deal with it in the face of the modern challenges of Blizzard's tremendous global presence, especially in sports, I was curious about how they dealt with the controversy prohibition of Pro Hearthstone player Chung & # 39; Flash & # 39; Ng Wai felt for Blizzard – especially because all three have experience in publishing games in China and working with him Chinese partners. Brevik acted as advisor to Path of Exile's Chinese release, and both Schaefers worked with Chinese investors and publishers in their various games.
Gain situation, "said Max Schäfer," and I think that has happened to some degree with [Blizzard]. There was no clean way out. And I think they somehow botched it, but there was no way to do it without controversy.
Regarding rumors and fears that Blizzard is buckling under pressure from the Chinese government or the Blizzard publishing partner NetEase, Brevik said that sounded "like a conspiracy theory."
"Given Blizzard's structure, they now think first of all about their purses," speculated Max Schäfer, "I think that sort of decision has done more than anything, and they did might have underestimated how people would perceive that. "
" If they do not punish, then what? You will simply use this platform for freedom of expression for any kind of political movement that anyone wants to absorb? You had to do something, but was it handled perfectly? Probably not. "I mean, that's why they apologized."
My full interview with David Brevik, Max, and Erich Schaefer and more coverage of Path of Exile, including the new campaign called Path of Exile 2 will be released later this week.