July 22, 2019 | 15:44
Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce has announced he is leaving the company after 28 years, marking the last of the original co-founders to depart - though the second of three to not change his mind so far.
Founded in February 1991 by Frank Pearce, Michael Morhaime, and Allen Adham as Silicon & Synapse Inc., the company would briefly be known as Chaos Studios Inc. before settling on its now-familiar Blizzard Entertainment nomenclature. Originally focusing on ports, the company had its breakthrough with the release of fantasy-themed real-time strategy (RTS) Warcraft: Orcs & Humans in late 1994 - assisted in no small part by its $6.75 million acquisition by distributor Davidson & Associates. 1996 saw the release of Diablo, an action role-playing game (ARPG), after Blizzard acquired developer Condor Games. After some financial issues at then-parent Cedant, the company rode the success of Diablo and its in-house multiplayer gaming platform Battle.net to an acquisition by Havas and then Vivendi in 1998. While the company wouldn't enjoy unalloyed success for all its titles - StarCraft: Ghost, a stealth-action title based in the sci-fi universe of Warcraft follow-up StarCraft, would be cancelled outright while - the launch of subscription-based massively multiplayer online (MMO) titles World of Warcraft in 2004 was the company's high mark. In 2008, corporate owner Vivendi Games would merge with Activision to form Activision-Blizzard - though Blizzard Entertainment continues to use its solo branding.
Its founders, though, appear to have itchy feet. Adham was the first to leave, announcing his departure in 2004 to work in the financial sector. A love of World of Warcraft, however, drew him back in and he would rejoin the company in 2016. Two years later, Morhaime - who had been responsible for Adham's return - announced his own departure, with World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack taking his place as president. Now it's Pearce's turn, who has announced that he is to step down from his role as chief development officer but - like Morhaime - will remain available to the company as an advisor.
'My journey as part of the Blizzard community began over 28 years ago,' Pearce writes in his departure notice. 'Allen offered me an opportunity to join him and Mike in their adventure and dream to make video games. Video games were a passion that we shared, and I had only a fleeting hope that I would have the opportunity to make games one day. The decision was easy for me - I did not have the benefit of internet searches to help start me down the path. Allen’s offer letter was the best and only chance I thought I might ever have. Looking back, I know how incredibly fortunate I was to have been a part of what Blizzard has become.
'Everything I have done at Blizzard has been driven by my passion. I have worked very hard and very passionately for a very long time. Now it is time for me to reflect and be thoughtful about what comes next. I plan to spend more time active in the outdoors. I’d like to learn to play an instrument. I hope to devote more time to aspects of my life that may not have gotten as much attention in the past. One thing is for certain – I will continue to be a part of the Blizzard family. My request and hope for all of you is that you continue living the Blizzard values and that you be kind and respectful to one another as you experience what Blizzard creates in the future. Blizzard is a special place and a special community, and everyone with whom you interact is important to the Blizzard journey as it continues forward. Thanks to everyone for the wonderful past I have enjoyed, and thank you in advance for the great future I expect we will share.'
'The first time I met Frank was during a lunch interview to join Blizzard. I was nervous not only because I was excited about the opportunity to join a company I loved, but because I was sitting face-to-face with one of the founders of Blizzard,' adds Brack. 'Frank can be intimidating, and sometimes comes across as a bit gruff. Underneath is a person of deep feeling, and of deep love for both the family of Blizzard, and the unique and caring community that has grown around Blizzard games. Frank is also a person I’m proud to call a close friend. Frank was one of the people who got me into running, and we’ve run dozens of races together over the years.
'Like many of us, Frank is an introvert. Thus many of you haven’t seen a lot of him publicly, nor seen the deep impact he’s had on Blizzard, and on the culture specifically. But Frank has been here from the beginning, building and expanding the foundation and championing the values behind everything Blizzard does. Blizzard is better because of Frank Pearce. A few BlizzCons ago, Frank talked about the value of human connection through video games, feeling a sense of belonging within the community, and that comes from a very personal place for Frank. Frank might be hanging up his armour now, but because of the influence he’s had in helping to build Blizzard and the connections he’s made with so many of us, veterans and new recruits alike who are all carrying the same torch forward, he’ll always be here with us.'
January 24 2020 | 12:00