He Was The Lore: Blizzard’s Chris Metzen Retires

Blizzard lorelord Chris Metzen (‘senior vice president of story and franchise development’, if you want to be technical) has handed in his badge and his loregiver (his keyboard, obvs) and taken The Long Walk into The Cursed Earth (idk, Reddit?). After nearly 23 years of laying down the lore and voicing characters from Thrall to the good ol’ Terran Battlecruiser, Metzen last night announced his retirement. He’s off to spend time with his family, see.

Metzen had been at Blizzard since the original WarCraft: Orcs & Humans, touching the story and cinematics of every game since, while chipping in on bits of design, voice direction, manuals… a lot. He was also creative director of Overwatch, Warcraft III, and World of Warcraft and its first few expansions. He’s been at Blizzard a while, you understand. Done quite a bit. Also some WoW novels and bits on the movie. Been quite involved in all of it. And what’s he learned?

“I wouldn’t really understand the depth of it for many years, but I had learned an important truth from my friends back then:

“Creativity is relational.

“Looking back at my years at Blizzard, I see now how profoundly this idea has shaped my career. I see how profoundly my friends and coworkers at Blizzard have shaped me as a person.”


“I pretty much had the coolest job ever—but the truth is, sometimes it was really hard. Building games with dozens of brilliant, passionate alpha-geeks with their own red-hot instincts and perspectives can be pretty tricky. Coming to consensus about certain design decisions, story motifs, or courses of art direction takes a lot of communication, patience, and ‘give and take.’ It stretches you. Sometimes it wasn’t all that pretty. But engaging with your teammates and collaborating through the potential quagmire of all that creative tension is where the real magic happens.

“It’s not just the decisions you come to—or even the final shape of the product you craft… It’s bigger than that—and infinitely more important. True collaboration builds trust—and trust is the basis of all lasting relationships. With trust you build more than just a great product.

“You build a TRIBE… that can build anything.

“A family of craftsmen.”

So it’s true what they say: friendship is magic. Now we can all skip learning that lesson the hard way.

Metzen is retiring to spend time with his family, which includes a couple of sprogs. He says he’s actually, properly retiring – not planning to join another studio or start his own projects. Just retiring. Well, mostly retiring.

If I write enough news posts, maybe one day I’ll get to retire to a quiet life with my wife, the sea.

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  1. Talahar says:

    I’m going to miss him. To me he was pretty much the face of Blizzard. Well, at least the guy with the most interesting stuff to tell.

  2. RedViv says:

    Thanks for the good times! I will treasure my signed WC2 manual even more then. As they say, no one has as many friends as the man with many cheeses.

    (Alice, your wife is terrifying. She once tried to eat me. Can she ever get over that habit?)

  3. lagiacrux says:

    well, im thankful for what he did with all the franchises but im REALLY excited to see someone new take over and bring new ideas.

  4. Shammah says:

    Maybe he’ll come back in a few week, but this time corrupted.

  5. Low Life says:

    Worth noting that Metzen said on Twitter he’s planning to keep doing Thrall’s voice.

  6. Amake says:

    I really liked his work in concept art and character design.

  7. Laurentius says:

    Love Warcraft 2 and was hooked on a lore immensely back then, also Starcraft and Warcraft3 and Frozen Throne. But on the other hand Starcraft 2 story is so ridiculously bad that I don’t even…so it may be for the best…

  8. Hunchback says:

    We live in times where giants start to retire… *sigh*

  9. MisterFurious says:

    I wonder who they’ll hire to rip off old fantasy novels and Warhammer lore now.

    • Asurmen says:

      There’s nothing original anymore. Get over it already. There’s also a substantial difference between ripped off, and inspired by. Ripped off implies complete copy, and I simply don’t see that (especially the Warhammer comment).

      • JFS says:

        Nooo, how could anyone see any resemblance between Warhammer and Warcraft, or 40K and Starcraft.

        Still, I love what Metzen did with WC1 and 2 and especially SC. Those manuals with his sketches rank extremely high on the Videogame Manual Gorgeousness Scale.

  10. Marblecake says:

    Me sad. Had good fun. Cheesy but tasty fun.

  11. Tiger Teeth says:

    Thank fucking Christ. The man clearly ran out the last of his talent a decade ago and has been running on fumes ever since. SC2 was a total goddamn shambles and LotV in particular was a 1080 degree triple backflip off the mountain of shambles into the ocean of horse manure.

    • Captain Joyless says:

      The sad part is that the lore was best when they were directly ripping off Games Workshop. It got so much worse when they tried to write their own stuff.

  12. Drib says:

    “Friendship is magic” you say. I’ll just take that as industry-insider information that he’s moving to a loremaster position for My Little Pony.

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    Ninja Dodo says:

    He helped make a bunch of great games, also made cool drawings. Good luck to him.

  14. blainestereo says:

    Rest in peace, green jesus.

  15. Distec says:

    Props to Metzen for being an important figure in developing my gaming childhood, even though at the time all I knew about the guy was that his named showed up in the corner of old Blizzard concept art. But he probably did need to call it a day when it comes to any writing or world development. Blizzard used to be great and “cheesy but engaging” pulp stories for their games, but they really are worthless now.

    Still, as much as things have been going downhill on that front, I can only imagine that whoever becomes chiefly responsible for “managing the lore” in Blizzard games is going to do a 10x worse job.

  16. Deakul says:

    Maybe now we’ll finally get good writing in Blizzard games again.

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    Elusiv3Pastry says:


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    X_kot says:

    Vaya con Dios, Chris. Truly this was your watershed moment: link to youtube.com

  19. SaintAn says:

    Shame he completely nuked the lore with that Chronicles book before leaving. Apparently they learned nothing from the Star Wars midichlorians screw up.

  20. Korakys says:

    When I think of Blizzard I think of three things:
    1. Copying others ideas once they have proven popular.
    2. Extraordinary post release support.
    3. Unremittingly bad story and lore (since 2005 at least).

    I hope he never does lore-work again.

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