Blizzard president and co-founder Mike Morhaime is stepping down after 27 years with the company and 11 years in charge, with his former role to be filled by current World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack. Morhaime will now officially a "strategic advisor" to Blizzard but he'll no longer be directly involved in leading the company.
You may know Morhaime best for his annual appearances at BlizzCon, thanking the community and laying out the company's future on stage. He frequently shared those honors with former Blizzard creative boss Chris Metzen, who retired back in 2016. Brack has also had a regular stage presence at BlizzCon, though his most notorious appearance probably remains telling a fan that "you think you [want classic WoW servers], but you don't" (opens in new tab)... then announcing that Blizzard is indeed making World of Warcraft Classic a few years later. The WoW community will never let him forget it, but hopefully it's just good natured ribbing at this point.
Morhaime started as a programmer at Silicon & Synapse, the tiny games studio that would eventually become Blizzard. He was executive producer of World of Warcraft and took over as president of the company in 2007, a position he maintained until this announcement. In his role as the non-fictional face of Blizzard, Morhaime embraced the communities that developed around his company's games and was embraced by them in return. He reflected on that aspect of the job in a farewell letter posted to Blizzard's official site (opens in new tab).
"When we started Blizzard we just wanted to make great games," Morhaime wrote. "What we realized is that the games we create are really just a framework for communities and human interaction. When we look back, what we often find that’s most lasting and meaningful from our experiences in games are the relationships we create and foster. You have given me the inspiration and drive to pour my heart and life into what I do. I literally couldn’t have done any of it without you. We have created these worlds, but you have given them life, through your passion, fan art, cosplay, videos, and in so many other ways.
Morhaime's letter was followed by a missive from Brack, who reiterated that the company will remain driven "by Blizzard’s values and a player-first mindset" under his leadership. He also teased that Blizzard will have "a few surprises" to show at BlizzCon 2018 in November. Speaking of which, I do wonder whether we'll still see Morhaime on stage for one last big appearance and a passing of the proverbial torch, or if he'll quietly step back and let the Brack era begin on its own. The Morhaime the merrier, I say.
As if you didn't already guess, Blizzard has secured several slots on our list of the best PC games (opens in new tab) you can play right now.