There’s a lot of change happening at Blizzard.
Overwatch lead writer Michael Chu, who was responsible for most of the game’s lore and story, announced that he is leaving the company after 20 years. Most of the game’s fans and players knew about Chu through Twitter or Reddit, platforms where he wasn’t afraid to tell a hero’s story or discredit some ships.
“As I head out through the Blizzard doors for a last time, I have new dreams: to continue to tell these stories and build worlds that unite people through games. To help create an inclusive world where more people will want to share stories that reflect their own experiences. I hope it’s something we can build together,” Chu said on his blog.
Chu told fans about his career on the emotional post, starting with his initial dream to “help make the games” he loved playing. He started with World of Warcraft and Diablo, helping bring their extensive universes to life with rich storytelling.
“These meetings, travels, and a desire to embrace the diversity of our world made it clear that there were different stories that needed to be told about places and people not traditionally seen in games. As an Asian American, I wanted to experience narratives that represented people like me and to see them depicted as heroes. Overwatch offered an opportunity to bring a more inclusive vision of earth to life: a future worth fighting for,” Chu wrote.
For Chu, this meant showing the “power of diversity,” whether it’s through a simple kiss between Tracer and her partner or including heroes from all walks of life and regions of the world. His goal was to “give a voice” and “better represent the breadeth of human experience.”
While he set out to make a difference for the gaming community, working on Overwatch was also a life-changing experience for Chu as well. He recalled stories he’s heard of people feeling inspired to take trips after “visiting” them in-game, of people making friends from different countries who speak different languages.
“But most of all: again and again, of people empathizing with a story about someone who is not the same as them,” Chu concluded.
While the departure of Chu is a big blow for the Overwatch community, Activision Blizzard is looking forward with the announcement of a newly appointed COO and president, Daniel Alegre. He offically starts working at Blizzard on April 7.
Alegre previously worked at Google, bringing “decades of global experience” in entertainment and technology to the gaming company. He will oversee Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, and King Digital Entertainment.
“I was deeply impressed by Daniel’s entrepreneurial drive and broad and deep experience in driving global growth across a variety of businesses in a rapidly changing industry,” Activision Blizzard’s CEO Bobby Kotick said.
He stated that Blizzard’s greatest challenge at the moment is “recruiting and retaining the talent needed to execute with focus and excellence.” He went on to say that Alegre has a long track record of success with this aspect of the job.
This is an important focus for Blizzard, who made headlines last year for laying off hundreds of employees due to an alleged lack of funding. This frustrated many in the gaming community, particularly after it was reported that company executives were getting pay increases. This would seem to conflict with the company’s stated reasoning behind laying off so many of their Blizzard Arena and communications employees.
Overwatch fans were even more skeptical of the developer after many Overwatch League casting talent left due to disagreements with the company leadership. It was also revealed that some had left when Blizzard refused to offer better pay to compensate for the excessive travel that a global schedule warranted in 2020.
Despite the controversy, Alegre expressed excitement over the new opportunity.
“Activision Blizzard is at an exciting point in its history. In addition to a deep library of owned and internationally beloved franchises, the company has tremendous talent that has built a culture committed to inspiration and creativity. More importantly, through thoughtful and creative games, it connects and engages over 400 million people around the world through epic entertainment. I look forward to helping players around the world connect through quality and immersive games,” Alegre stated.
Alegre is originally from Mexico. Before working as Google’s president of global retail and shopping, he was the company’s president of global and strategic partnerships. Prior to joining Google, Alegre worked at Bertelsmann and BMG Music.