Hearthstone game director Ben Brode is leaving Blizzard

Ben then.

Ben Brode, game director on Hearthstone and rapmeister extraordinaire, is leaving Blizzard. Brode dropped the surprise announcement today in a message saying that he's going to help start a new company that will "probably make games." 

"After 15 years at Blizzard and almost 10 years working on Hearthstone, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to embark on a new journey," Brode wrote. 

"Man, that was a hard sentence to type." 

The message reflects on his lengthy history at Blizzard, which he joined as a tester when he was just 20. He said he is proud of Hearthstone, a game that "touches so many people," but he's even prouder of the team behind it. 

"There is no team like the Hearthstone team. People have come and gone over the 10 years Hearthstone has been in development, but there’s something special about the Soul of the Team," he wrote. "We knew our most important product wasn’t the game, but the team itself. A great team can do great things, and I think the Hearthstone team is the greatest. It isn’t just a job. It’s a shared passion." 

Brode described his new venture as a "crazy risk," but said he's excited to be "scrappy and a little scared." 

"I’m looking forward to designing, programming, and actually creating things again," he wrote. "I’m going to miss the on-campus Starbucks, though. Dang."

"Blizzard, thank you for taking a chance on me, and thank you for taking a chance on Hearthstone. I can’t wait to see what you do next. And to the passionate community of players—I will miss you, and the laughs we shared together. Thank you for making being a part of Hearthstone so much fun for me. I’ve loved every minute." 

We took a closer look at Brode's rise from "from pizza slinger to the brains and voice of Blizzard's CCG behemoth" in January, and spoke to him just last week about the state of the game, including the new Witchwood expansion, the need for a balance team, and the endless quest for the next "Unicorn" deck.

Ben now.