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Diablo's original creators think that Blizzard 'has completely changed'

By Tim Augustin - on 18 Nov 2019, 3:11pm

Diablo's original creators think that Blizzard 'has completely changed'

Blizzard has been under a fair amount of scrutiny under the public eye recently, since their bungled Diablo Immortal announcement from last year and the more recent Hearthstone esports controversy. It’s safe to say that Blizzard has changed as a company, with more of a focus on appeasing shareholders - but don’t just take my word for it. The original creators of Diablo think so too. 

PC Gamer recently interviewed the creators of Diablo and founders of Blizzard North, David Brevik, Erich Schaefer and Max Schaefer. During the interview, the trio agreed to the sentiment that Blizzard has changed since their time there. 

"It's not 'sort of' changed, it has completely changed," said Brevik, stating that there were only two remaining original Blizzard developers at the company. Max Schaefer chimed in as well, saying:

The old Blizzard is gone. 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 trio continued to explain the difficulties they faced before leaving Blizzard, such as the constant battle over Diablo 2’s gore and satanic aesthetic between their studio (Blizzard North) and Blizzard Entertainment. As the company grew into an empire, the trio found it harder to focus on creative success without running into red tape and corporate bureaucracy. Erih Schaefer said:

I think the biggest thing is we didn't talk about shareholder value. We didn't talk about Chinese government and what they might want. The only thing we ever talked about was what we wanted to do and what the fans would like. It's obviously not the case anymore, for better or worse. I don't blame them. They're a giant corporation.

It seems that Blizzard has grown massively within the last two decades, and thus its employees have to sacrifice creative freedom for financial success. The company is concerned about its shareholders now, perhaps even more so than they are concerned about their fans. What that means for the future of Blizzard however, remains to be seen.