Chris Metzen left Blizzard back in 2016, after a long career in roles such as creative director of World Of Warcraft and Overwatch, co-design lead on StarCraft and many more. He had been at the studio for 23 years, and so he announced his retirement, for it was time to rest.
It wasn’t a long rest, however, because Metzen got the itch to start creating cool fictional worlds once more. Now he’s joined up with another former Blizz dev, Mike Gilmartin, to make tabletop games at a new company, Warchief Gaming.
They founded Warchief Gaming in 2018 as a tabletop club for Metzen, Gilmartin and their pals to hang out.
“Tabletop is where I learned to be creative with my friends growing up, playing D&D, playing Warhammer,” Metzen told VentureBeat. “Loving these ideas and playing these games in the same space as my best friends. Those are some of my most cherished memories. At 47, I come back to that. Even after that glorious Blizzard experience, I want that intimate scale again.”
He says that towards the end of his Blizzard career, he realised that he just didn’t feel that creative anymore. It seems Warchief is an outlet for him to explore new ideas without the pressures of a megacorporation looming over him.
“It was a privilege to be able to work on all those worlds at Blizzard for all those years. But in this phase of my life, I guess I would say out loud, I’m interested in owning my own ideas” Metzen says. “I’m interested in being able to develop them the way my gut tells me I should, without oversight of people I don’t know. That’s a big theme for me, that ownership and authorship.”
Metzen and Gilmartin aren’t the only Blizzard vets on the team, though. They’ve also nabbed Ryan Collins, who worked as a game designer on Hearthstone, too.
As for what they’re going to make, the website says Warchief is “a haven for hobbyists, wargamers and role-players”. They haven’t announced anything specific just yet, but Metzen seems pretty excited about what’s in store.
“We’re going to come out and make some cool shit,” he says. “Maybe we’ll find an audience. That would be great. Maybe we won’t. I don’t know. But, oh god, I’m having fun again. Jamming with my friends and hooking these ridiculous ideas and these crazy worlds. I needed this in my life.”
Former Blizzard developers starting their own studios seems to be a bit of a recurring story recently. The co-founder and former CEO, Mike Morhaime, started Dreamhaven, while some former StarCraft 2 devs formed the RTS-focussed Frost Giant Studios.