Six years after announcing his departure from Blizzard Entertainment, and his retirement from the games industry at large, long-serving Blizzard veteran Chris Metzen is returning to the company as creative advisor on the Warcraft franchise.
Metzen’s retirement from Blizzard in 2016 came as a shock to many a fan. He’d been with the company for 23 years at that point, serving as head writer and lore guru (or, more officially, senior vice president of story and franchise development) and had become one of its most recognisable faces across countless BlizzCons.
“The reason I use the word ‘retire'”, Metzen explained in a statement at the time of his departure, “is because I’m not going to some other company or starting up new projects or anything remotely like that. It’s been a long, amazing stretch of years. Now it’s time to slow it down. Rest. Lay around on the couch and get fat.”
So today’s news of Metzen’s return to Blizzard is as much of a surprise as his departure, but, as confirmed by Warcraft general manager John Hight on Twitter, the deal is done.
“It is with great joy that I announce Chris Metzen has joined the Warcraft Leadership Team as creative advisor,” Hight wrote. “Chris’s focus initially will be on World of Warcraft, then his work will expand to other projects across this growing franchise.”
“Chris was one of the original team members working on the Warcraft universe back when it began in 1994,” Hight added in his statement, “and we are so happy to be reuniting him with the world he helped creative.”
Metzen returns to a very different Blizzard, which has seen major leadership and cultural changes since last year’s State of California lawsuit calling Activision Blizzard, and Blizzard in particular, “a breeding ground for harassment and discrimination against women”.
Following news of the lawsuit, Metzen shared a statement apologising for the “part I played in a culture that fostered harassment, inequality, and indifference”. “There is no excuse,” he wrote. “We failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privelidge of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary space for the colleagues who needed us as leaders. I wish my apology could make any kind of difference. It can’t.”