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Chris Metzen returns to Blizzard as Warcraft creative advisor

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Former World of Warcraft creative director, Chris Metzen, has returned to Blizzard Entertainment to become a creative advisor for Warcraft.

Warcraft franchise General Manager John Hight announced the news via Twitter. Hight explained that Metzen would start his advisory work on Warcraft before expanding to other projects at Blizzard.

“Chris [Metzen]’s focus initially will be on World of Warcraft, then his work will expand to other projects across this growing franchise.”

John Hight, general manager of Warcraft

“Chris was one of the original team members working on the Warcraft universe back when it began in 1994, and we are so happy to be reuniting him with the world he helped create,” Hight tweeted.

Metzen is expected to participate in the development of Warcraft mobile. Blizzard currently has Warcraft Arclight Rumble, a free-to-play game, in the closed beta phase. The Arclight Rumble will likely be the first mobile game in the Warcraft franchise, given that the company has scrapped previous mobile projects.

Before leaving Blizzard in 2016, Metzen had been a lead designer for Starcraft and participated in the development of Diablo II. A talented voice actor, Metzen voiced several characters in the company’s MMORPG. He was especially famous for voicing MMORPG Hordel leader Thrall and continued to do the job even after leaving the company.

Metzen parted ways with Blizzard during a tumultuous time for the company, in the middle of Titan’s cancellation and the release of Overwatch. He cited having a newborn baby and health issues — Blizzard said the former director suffered from panic attacks — as reasons for leaving the company.

After his departure from Blizzard, Metzen established Warchief Gaming, a tabletop gaming company based in Orange County, California. Warchief aims to develop imaginative worlds and share stories across all media types. Its first project was Auroboros: Coils of the Serpent, a 5e sourcebook.

Blizzard’s controversy

In 2021, Blizzard was under controversy for its alleged workplace harassment culture. Despite not being mentioned in the accusation, Metzen came forward with an apology. He said he had a role in a “culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference” by working in the company at that time. He added that he also felt the same “shock” and “disgust” as others due to his love for Blizzard.

The case has been going on for more than a year. According to Blizzard employees, there were 700 reported harassment and discrimination incidents under the leadership of CEO Robert Kotick, which he hardly acknowledged. Wall Street Journal reported that sexual misconduct was often done by the company’s executives, even in the presence of HR.

Last October, a woman sued Blizzard for sexual harassment by former product manager Miguel Vega. She said Vega groped and attempted to kiss her without her consent. She also said Vega promised her a raise if she accepted his sexual advances.

She explained that she had tried to report the harassment to upper management, but Vega was notified of the report and left her a voicemail. Vega was eventually let go in September 2021. In her suit, she sought compensation for damages, medical expenses, lost earnings and legal fees.

Blizzard’s future acquisition

Since 2008, Blizzard has been a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard — a mega gaming company known for various high-profile games like Call of Duty. In January 2022, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Activision Blizzard and its subsidiaries for $68.7 billion.

This acquisition plan faces a hurdle with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filing a lawsuit against Microsoft to prevent the deal from going through. According to the FTC, the acquisition is an effort to control specific gaming spaces in the industry. Analysts said that Microsoft might turn games created by its subsidiaries specific to its gaming consoles.

Microsoft’s rival, Sony, also expressed disagreement over the acquisition, citing similar concerns as the FTC. Authorities in other regions are also looking into the deal.