The past year has been one of the toughest in computer memory, Blizzard Entertainment. Diablo's notorious announcement: Immortal at BlizzCon 2018 was just the beginning of a tumultuous year of news as Blibard cut hundreds of jobs despite announcing record profits, rumors of an increased impact on Activision spending, and a huge international controversy when two Taiwanese actresses and a player from Hartston was banned when he said the player had used his post-match interview to call for Hong Kong's independence from China.
At the ExileCon ExileCon convention trail in New Zealand this weekend, I had the opportunity to talk with the founders of Blibber North and the creators of Diablo David Breivik, Erich Schafer and Max Schafer to tell my opinion on the recent. That interview, which includes their thoughts on Diablo 4's announcements, Blibbard's past and present, and China's turbulent gaming industry, will be released in full by PC Gamer later this week.
During the conversation, I asked Breivik, Erich, and Max Schaefer whether it was difficult to see a company that they helped build a hug in controversy over the past year, and if it felt like Blibbard would change his "look".
"It's not & # 39; changed & # 39; it's completely changed," Breivik contested, noting that the only original Blibbord developers remaining are Senior Artistic Director Samsons Didier and President J. Allen Brack, with whom Breivik however, he talks regularly.
"Old Blizzard is gone," added Max Schafer. “When we retired, there were a total of 180 employees. Now there are thousands. The whole empire is different, and Activision had no impact. At that point it was just Blizzard, and then an anonymous corporate owner, Vivendi or whatever. it was so. And so now [Blizzard is] a video game empire that should appease shareholders and all that. "
That change in Blizzard Entertainment's values and culture is nothing new. It's something that "happens to companies all the time," Breivik said, and is a natural part of any company growing into a mass corporation.
Breivik and the Schaefer Brothers all stated that even during the development of Diablo 2, there was a constant battle over its finished, satanic aesthetics between Blibard North and Blizzard Entertainment, the main branch of the company originally founded by Mike Moraim, Alain Adam, Pierce. 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 biggest thing is we didn't talk about shareholder value," said Erich Schaefer. "We didn't talk about the Chinese government and what they might want. The only thing we ever talked about was what we wanted to do and what fans would want. Obviously not the case anymore, for better or worse. I didn't & # 39; blame them. They are a huge corporation. "
"You can't be as big and be as wheeled as we were and one of the reasons we left was to be more determined and not look at any monstrous organization," Max Schafer said. “Nothing stays the same. You wouldn't survive [Blizzard’s] growth in any form by staying there. It's just going to upset us because all we want to do is have a team and make the games we want to do. It's possible in a small group like Blibard before and it's not possible in the media conglomerate empire they have now. "
Although Breivik, Max, and Erich Schaefer left Blizzard back in 2003 and never had to deal with the modern challenges of Blizzard's enormous global presence, especially in the essays, I was frustrated at how they felt about the whole Blizzard debate Charleston player Jung Blitschung's Ng Wai – especially because all three have experience in publishing games in China and working with Chinese partners. Breivik acted as an advisor to the Chinese publication of Exile Road, and Schaefer both worked with Chinese investors and publishers on their various games.
"First of all, sometimes you wake up in the morning and you're just in a winless situation," Max Schafer said. "And I think that, to some extent, that's what happened [Blizzard]. There was no clear exit. And I think they somehow got involved, obviously, but there was no way they could do it without some controversy. "
As for rumors and fears that Blizzard is being pressured by the Chinese government or publishing partner of Blibbard, NetEaza, Breivik said it sounds "like conspiracy theory".
"Because of the structure of Blizzard now they think first with their wallets," speculated Max Schaefer. "I think that kind of led to decision making more than anything, and they might underestimate what people's perception of it is."
"Again, Blizzard was at a disadvantage," Breivik said. “If they don't punish us, then what? Will they simply become this free speech platform for any political movement that anyone wants to take over? They were supposed to do something, but was it perfectly handled? Probably not. I mean, that's why they apologized. "
My full interview with David Breivik, Max and Erich Schaefer and more on Exile Road coverage, including his new campaign called The Road of Exile 2, will be released later this week.