Chris Metzen, Senior VP of Story and Franchise Development at Blizzard, announces his retirement, leaving behind a legacy of incredible innovation and game design.
Some names in the video game industry are synonymous with the iconic titles they developed or contributed to. For Blizzard’s Senior VP of Story and Franchise Development Chris Metzen, his name will be inextricably tied to three of the most influential games ever released for computers – Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft. Metzen has worked at Blizzard for 22 years, a career that has seen him directly involved in video game moments that have defined entire generations of gamers. Metzen played a key role in both the halcyon days of the South Korean Starcraft scene that was the first mainstream exposure for eSports and the massive World of Warcraft franchise, a MMORPG that is still matching sales records over a decade into its existence.
Now, however, it appears that Metzen is going to take a long-deserved break from video game design and development to focus on his family and personal life. Metzen announced his retirement internally to Blizzard on Monday before creating a post in the Blizzard forums hours later to explain to his many fans why he’s choosing to step back from the industry at the young age of 42:
“Being home with [my family], having time and space to really live…to love my wife with all my strength…that’s my career now.”
Metzen is best known as the man behind the epic stories that characterize Blizzard games, with writing creative and compelling enough to serve as the inspiration for the most successful video game movie of all-time in Warcraft. Although his contributions to the lore of Starcraft and Diablo were no less important, fans will likely remember Metzen most for the hours of writing, plotting, art design and voice acting work he put into World of Warcraft, as he was prominently showcased in a World of Warcraft documentary that reflected on the game’s first ten years of existence.
While Blizzard has yet to make an official statement and there will be no replacing a talent like Metzen, the games he played a pivotal role in creating will still continue on. Blizzard is already hiring for an unannounced Diablo project, while World of Warcraft successfully launched its Legion expansion to rave reviews and is gearing up for its first major patch called “Return to Karazhan”.
For now, however, gamers the world over who have been influenced or inspired by classic Blizzard titles like Diablo, Warcraft, and Starcraft have to say goodbye to the man who made all of those vibrant universes a reality. Although it might be difficult to imagine those worlds without Metzen’s touch, he’s given 22 years of his own life breathing some into 2D or 3D animations, and there are few figures in gaming who have earned a peaceful retirement as much as he has.