In a shocking announcement, Blizzard Entertainment announced that Mike Morhaime, co-founder of Blizzard, is stepping down as President of the company. World of Warcraft’s Executive Producer, J. Allen Brack, has been named the new President. Mike Morhaime will remain on as a strategic advisor to the company.
An official statement by Blizzard Entertainment was released about the announcement:
SANTA MONICA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced the appointment of Blizzard veteran and World of Warcraft® Executive Producer J. Allen Brack as the new president of Blizzard Entertainment succeeding Mike Morhaime, who will remain a strategic advisor to the company. The company also announced the appointments of Chief Development Officer Ray Gresko and Blizzard Founder Allen Adham to Blizzard’s executive leadership team.
“J. has been with Blizzard for over 12 years leading the World of Warcraft team, and it takes vision, creativity and unwavering commitment to excellence to sustain a community of players the way J. has for over a decade,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “J. is an inspiring leader. He has shown unwavering commitment to our community, to innovation and creative excellence and he cares deeply about ensuring the very best of Blizzard culture will be protected.”
“I am also excited to have Allen Adham, Blizzard’s founder, who rejoined the company two years ago and Ray Gresko, Blizzard’s Chief Development Officer, join Blizzard’s executive leadership team. I have known both Allen and Ray for more than 25 years and they are two of the most capable entrepreneurs in the game industry. They will help make certain that inspiration and creativity remains the focus of Blizzard,” said Kotick.
“I am incredibly honored and humbled to serve as Blizzard’s next president, and to lead one of the best entertainment companies in the world, thanks to the passion and dedication of our player community and employees,” said J. Allen Brack, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Blizzard was founded on the promise of making great games, and I plan to continue this fierce commitment to quality, our community, and our purpose. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s next given the strength of our pipeline.”
“Thanks to Mike Morhaime’s wonderful stewardship and masterful job of building a truly extraordinary team, epic games and a global community of beloved players, Blizzard is one of the very best game companies in the world,” Kotick added.
“I want to thank all of the talented and hardworking people at Blizzard for their dedication, creativity and passion. It has been a privilege to lead this team. I’m also very grateful to Blizzard‘s player community for their support,” said Mike Morhaime.
About J. Allen Brack
J. Allen Brack is a seasoned game industry veteran bringing nearly 24 years’ experience to this new role. As president of Blizzard Entertainment, Brack is dedicated to maintaining the high standard of quality that has propelled Blizzard to become an internationally recognized leader in interactive entertainment. Most recently, Brack served as executive producer and senior vice president for World of Warcraft, the #1 subscription-based MMORPG in the world. Throughout his twelve years at Blizzard, World of Warcraft has captivated millions of players worldwide and received a steady stream of high-quality content updates, including multiple expansions that rank among the fastest-selling PC games of all time. Prior to joining Blizzard, Brack held multiple roles at Origin Systems, Inc., working on the Wing Commander franchise, and then at Sony Online Entertainment LLC working on Star Wars Galaxies.
About Ray Gresko
As chief development officer, Ray Gresko will oversee ongoing product development efforts across Blizzard’s iconic franchises, to ensure that the company delivers a consistent high-quality experience across its games. Gresko, a 26-year industry veteran, most recently held the role of executive producer for Overwatch, leading the development team through the creation of a brand-new Blizzard franchise and helping launch the game to critical acclaim. Gresko joined Blizzard in 2008 as production director on Diablo III. Previously, Gresko worked on multiple highly regarded LucasArts titles, co-founded and managed Nihilistic Software, and was director of production and studio design director for Stormfront Studios.
About Allen Adham
As executive producer, senior vice president, and founder of Blizzard Entertainment, Allen Adham is responsible for supporting some of the company’s initiatives around new product incubation. In this role, he serves on Blizzard’s executive team and helps shepherd the company’s vision for the future while setting goals and strategies that support Blizzard’s dedication to creating the most epic entertainment experiences ever. In February 1991, Allen co-founded Blizzard Entertainment with Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce, serving as the company’s first president and later chairman. He provided executive leadership on the company’s first games, helping to build the industry-leading Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo entertainment universes. This included overseeing the creation of World of Warcraft and serving as the game’s lead designer from inception through its first five years of development.
About Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.
Best known for blockbuster hits including World of Warcraft®, Hearthstone®, Overwatch®, the Warcraft®, StarCraft®, and Diablo® franchises, and the multi-franchise Heroes of the Storm®, Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. (www.blizzard.com), a division of Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI), is a premier developer and publisher of entertainment software renowned for creating some of the industry’s most critically acclaimed games. Blizzard Entertainment’s track record includes twenty-two #1 games* and multiple Game of the Year awards. The company’s online gaming service, Blizzard Battle.net®, is one of the largest in the world, with millions of active players.
*Sales and/or downloads, based on internal company records and reports from key distribution partners.
Mike Morhaime and J. Allen Brack have both revealed personal messages to the Blizzard community.
Mike Morhaime’s message:
Dear Members of the Blizzard Community,
When Blizzard’s founder Allen Adham first invited me to join him in creating Silicon & Synapse (our original name), nothing could have prepared me for the amazing adventure that we would share for the next 27 years. Our original mission and values consisted of four simple words that formed our foundation: “We make great games.” We crafted that statement before we had even released our first game, but we were committed to living up to it.
After many years of working with some of the industry’s most talented people to create games and worlds for you to play in, I’ve decided it’s time for someone else to lead Blizzard Entertainment. I will now serve as an advisor to the company I so love and admire. My duties as president of Blizzard will be assumed by my friend, colleague, trusted advisor, and longtime steward of World of Warcraft, J. Allen Brack.
J. is an inspiring leader who has shown unwavering commitment to Blizzard’s community in his 12 years with the company. His leadership on World of Warcraft leveraged his vision, creativity, and commitment to quality, and together with the rest of the dev team helped deliver an experience that is unprecedented in our industry. I couldn’t be happier for J. and know that Blizzard will continue to make great games with him at the helm.
I am grateful to all of the hardworking and talented people at Blizzard for their dedication and creativity. Their belief in our mission and care for our players has helped Blizzard reach greater heights than I ever could have imagined.
I am also grateful to all of you in the community. We have been through so much together. Not only have you been with me through many of the greatest moments and biggest triumphs of my life, but you have also been there through some of the most difficult. I am fortunate to have been able to meet many of you in person, while the many messages, emails, Tweets, Reddit discussions, and forum posts have provided an unbelievable connection as well. Even Twitch chat. It has always brought me joy, comfort, and inspiration to see the beacons of brilliance, voices of reason, and the passion that exists and evolves every day in all of our communities.
When we started Blizzard we just wanted to make great games. 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.
I truly believe that this amazing community has the potential to be a shining light to the rest of the industry by setting a positive example of inclusivity, tolerance, and acceptance toward others. In the words of one of Blizzard’s core values: remember to always play nice; play fair. I know this community is capable of changing the world.
It has been an honor to serve this community for over 27 years, and I thank you for your many years of support. I look forward to being a member of the community alongside you. See you on Battle.net!
Your fellow Blizzard gamer,
J. Allen Brack’s message:
Today has been a swirl of emotions. First, I feel a deep sense of gratitude to Mike. His work on some of our industry’s most iconic games is the reason I came to Blizzard. Not only is he an inspiring leader, but he’s also been a wise and patient mentor to me during my time at Blizzard. And he’s been a good friend. Joining the World of Warcraft team and my favorite game company nearly 13 years ago was an unimaginable dream. Now, to be chosen to lead Blizzard into the future is both a huge honor, and a tremendous responsibility.
To do that, I’ll have the help of dedicated and talented Blizzard employees around the world who all share the same mission we have always pursued—to connect and engage the world through the most epic entertainment experiences, ever. Each of us is influenced by Blizzard’s values and a player-first mindset, which serve as the foundation of our company. With these beliefs at the core of everything we do, we’ve been able to deliver great games across different genres and platforms. And there is more to come—we’re working on more games now than at any point in Blizzard’s history.
As I transition from leading a development team to the entire company, I’ll also have the support of our team of experienced leaders at Blizzard. I’m pleased to announce two additions to our executive leadership team who will be instrumental as we move forward. Ray Gresko, a 10-year veteran of Blizzard who helped create both Overwatch and Diablo III, is now our chief development officer. Allen Adham, Blizzard’s original founder and lead designer of World of Warcraft, will join the executive team while continuing to oversee development of several new games. The knowledge and experience that Ray and Allen bring, in addition to the talent already on the leadership team, will be indispensable in helping move Blizzard into the future.
One thing that won’t change going forward—our deeply held commitments that are core to who we are as a company: to gameplay first, to quality in everything we do, and to listening to and partnering with our community. BlizzCon, the IRL representation of our connection with the community, is just a month away and it’s a time of the year that Blizzard employees look forward to the most. And as usual, we have a few surprises.
I want to close by thanking Mike for 27 years of amazing work: I am looking forward to your wisdom and guidance in your new role. And thank you for everything you’ve done to help create the company and the games we love.
J. Allen Brack
This announcement came from out of left field and shocked the gaming community. It’s also an interesting change considering we are about a month away from BlizzCON. It makes you wonder if Mike Morhaime will be there to address the community personally. Time will tell but I will say thank you to Mike Morhaime for everything he has done and all the entertainment he has provided. From Warcraft III, Diablo, Diablo 2 to current titles such as World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, Diablo III, and Overwatch, I’ve been entertained for years and hope to continue to be entertained.