Activision announced today that Mike Morhaime, the co-founder and president of Blizzard Entertainment, has stepped down. He will be succeeded in the role by World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack, but will remain a "strategic advisor" to the company.
"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," Morhaime said in a statement. "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."
Morhaime expressed his gratitude to the "hardworking and talented people at Blizzard," and also to the members of the community who have supported him and the company over the past three decades.
"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."
"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," Brack said. "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."
"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," Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick said in a separate press release. "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."
Blizzard corporate communications rep Bob Colayco delivered a more personal take on Morhaime's "warmth, generosity, and down-to-earth nature" in a short but revealing tale on Medium about Morhaime and his wife delivering a housewarming gift last year.
"I’m devastated that Mike is leaving the company I’ve been a die-hard fan of since Warcraft II," Colayco wrote. "He led by example, and deeply cares about the community, and all the folks who worked for him."
Brack also announced that Ray Gresko, a longtime Blizzard vet who previously worked on Overwatch and Diablo 3, will become the company's chief development officer, while co-founder and World of Warcraft lead designer Allen Adham will join the executive team in an unspecified role. Interestingly, Brack said that Adham will "oversee development of several new games," but details as to what they might be (or when we might see them) weren't provided.