Why it matters: Blizzard is another gaming company that has recently fallen out of favor— even Diablo’s original creators agree. David Brevik, Erich Schaefer and Max Schaefer say in a new interview that over the years the business has “completely changed,” not for the better.
Speaking to PC Gamer at the ExileCon fan convention on the Path of Exile, the trio were asked about some of the recent controversies to plague Blizzard which began with the Diablo: Immortal Reveal last year— a game that was lambasted by fans as a mobile-only release.
When asked by PC Gamer’s Steven Messner if Blizzard had “kind of changed,” Brevik replied: “It’s not ‘ kind of ‘ changed, it has changed completely.” He added that the company’s remaining two original developers are Senior Art Director Samwise Didier and Senior Vice President Allen Adham.
“The old Blizzard has vanished,” said Max Schaefer. “When we left, there were a total of 180 workers. There are thousands now. The whole company is different, because Activision had no control whatsoever. At that stage it was just Blizzard and then some mysterious corporate owner, Vivendi or whoever. That’s it. So now[ Blizzard is] a video game corporation that has to please investors and all that stuff.”
The Schaefer brothers said that there was tension about blood and satanic references in Diablo 2 between Blizzard North and the parent company Blizzard Entertainment and that as Blizzard gained more success, the three original developers were unable to focus on creative design and faced more corporate bureaucracy.
Messner also asked for the three’s opinion on the Hearthstone ban dispute, in which Hong Kong-based pro player Ng “Blitzchung” Wai Chung said in a post-match interview that led to a one-year ban on tournaments, “Liberate Hong Kong, a rebellion of our times.” The move resulted in a public walkout being organized by employees of Blizzard.
“First of all, sometimes in the morning you wake up and you’re in a position of no win,” said Max Schaefer. “And I think that’s what happened to[ Blizzard] to some degree. There was no clean way out. And I think they kind of bungled it, frankly, but without some controversy there was no way they could get through that.”
Brevik added that the Chinese government manipulated Blizzard’s speculation or publishing partner NetEase sounded “like a conspiracy theory.”
The developer reported in other Blizzard news that the forthcoming Diablo 4 would have microtransactions. It will only be for locked cosmetic items, and while it’s not going to be the first full-price game to feature them, it’s not going to go well with fans.
The full interview will be released later this week by PC Gamer.