Why it matters: Blizzard is another gaming giant to have fallen out of favor in recent times—even the original creators of Diablo agree. In a new new interview, David Brevik, Erich Schaefer, and Max Schaefer say the company has “completely changed” over the years, and not for the better.
Speaking to PC Gamer at the Path of Exile’s ExileCon fan convention, the trio was asked about some of the controversies to plague Blizzard in recent times, which began with the Diablo: Immortal reveal last year—a game that was lambasted by fans for being a mobile-only title.
When asked by PC Gamer’s Steven Messner if Blizzard had “sort of changed,” Brevik replied: “It’s not ‘sort of’ changed, it has completely changed.” He added that the only two original developers still at the company are senior art director Samwise Didier and senior vice president Allen Adham.
“The old Blizzard is gone,” Max Schaefer added. “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.”
The Schaefer brothers said there was friction between Blizzard North and parent company Blizzard Entertainment over the gore and satanic references in Diablo 2, and that as Blizzard found more success, the three original devs struggled to focus on creative design and experienced more corporate bureaucracy.
Messner also asked for the three’s opinion on the Hearthstone ban controversy, in which Hong Kong-based pro player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung said, “Liberate Hong Kong, a revolution of our times,” in a post-match interview, leading to a one-year ban from tournaments. The move resulted in Blizzard employees staging a protest walkout.
“First of all, sometimes you wake up in the morning and you’re just in a no win situation,” Max Schaefer said. “And I think that, to some extent, that’s what happened with [Blizzard]. There was no clean way out. And I think they kind of bungled it, obviously, but there was no way they were getting through that without some controversy.”
Brevik did add that speculation Blizzard was being pressured by the Chinese government or publishing partner NetEase sounded “like a conspiracy theory.”
In other Blizzard news, the developer has confirmed that the upcoming Diablo 4 will have microtransactions. These will only be for locked cosmetic items, and while it won’t be the first full-price game to feature them, this reveal won’t go down well with fans.
PC Gamer will publish the full interview later this week.