Blizzard North Closure Myths Debunked by Schaefer and Uelmen
Three former key members of Blizzard North, the now-defunct division of Blizzard Entertainment that created Diablo and Diablo 2, now work at Runic Games and helped develop Torchlight 2: Erich and Max Schaefer, former project and design leads of the Diablo series who co-founded Runic in 2008 with Travis Baldree and Peter Hu, as well as Matt Uelmen, sound designer and composer of D1 and D2′s soundtrack, who joined Runic in 2009.
Ever since the departure of the Schaefer brothers and the closure of Blizzard North, rumors and misconceptions have carried over throughout the years and eventually become mistaken for fact, but recent comments from Erich Schaefer and Matt Uelmen have debunked these myths.
Why did Matt Uelmen and the Schaefer brothers leave Blizzard? Matt Uelmen told Game Front:
“I can’t speak for the Schaefers, though I know the two years following the release of “Lord of Destruction” were a little frustrating, because of chaos affecting Vivendi at the highest levels and the fact that WoW was a resource-hungry project. Of course, the decision to invest heavily into WoW turned out to have been very, very smart.”
Rumors stated that Blizzard Entertainment closed Blizzard North in 2005 because parent company Vivendi was unsatisfied with the branch’s development of Diablo 3, but Matt Uelman debunked this:
“That statement is based totally on speculation. I will say that the idea that Vivendi would be in a position to tell Blizzard what to do with an internal division immediately after WoW had been released is laughable.”
Erich Schaefer weighed in on the issue on Reddit:
“That reason is a joke! (…) The reasons we split were many, but the main one was that Vivendi was shopping our studio around to buyers with no input from us, the team (both Bliz North and South). And the process was taking a long time, during which they kept deferring renegotiating our bonus structure. (Our profitability was still growing, but the bonus structure wasn’t keeping up with it due to a lot of complex crap.)
“So we said: “Hey, either we get some say in this stuff… you know, our whole future… or we’re going to resign.” And they said: buh-bye. Another reason for me personally was just sort of some wanderlust, though. It was time for some new adventures. I was getting fat and lazy at Blizzard.”
That’s one Wikipedia entry that needs correcting.