Blizzard in 2022 is a vastly different company to the one so many became fans of in the 1990s and 2000s, partly because it is now owned by Activision, but mostly because that was a long time ago and most of the people who made the games you love have left!
Well, except for one. Chris Metzen, a key figure in Blizzard’s rise during that time period and a man with a wild resume of work for the studio (he’s been an artist, writer, designer, creative director and even long-running voice actor on Diablo, StarCraft, WarCraft, WoW and Overwatch, ), has just announced that he’s returning, six years after he departed.
As we reported at the time, Metzen left during a tumultuous time not just for the studio—amid the cancellation of Titan and the release of Overwatch—but in his personal life as well, having just become a father and experiencing some serious health issues:
After Titan’s cancellation, Metzen fell in with the Overwatch project. It was, in his words, “one last charge at the wall.” He helped rally morale and push the game through to completion. And it is a god damned excellent game.
In the process, though, Metzen suffered from nonstop anxiety. During movies with his wife, he’d experience what he’d later learn were panic attacks. He felt like his lungs would stop, but when he consulted doctors, nothing was wrong with him. It was the beginning of 2016, and with the upcoming release of World of Warcraft’s Legion, Overwatch, its animated shorts, the Blizzard movies and, also, a new baby, Metzen was crushed under the pressure to do it all.
“I need a change in my life,” Metzen said.
Blizzard announced his return this morning:
CITIZENS OF AZEROTH,
It is with great joy that I announce CHRIS METZEN has joined the Warcraft Leadership Team as Creative Advisor. Chris’s focus initially will be on World of Warcraft, then his work will expand to other projects across this growing franchise.
Chris was one of the original team members working on the W Warcraft universe back when it began in 1994, and we are so happy to be reuniting him with the world he helped create.
General Manager, Warcraft
That job title, “creative advisor”, could mean anything, but the fact Hight adds “his work will expand to other projects across this growing franchise” suggests it’s just a way to ease him back into the studio before setting him loose on more stuff.
You can, and really should, check out Metzen’s full list of contributions to Blizzard games over the years for a fuller understanding of why fans are so happy at this news.