Hearthstone director Ben Brode has made the surprise announcement to depart Blizzard Entertainment. The guy that served as the card game's lead both behind-the-scenes and in-front-of-the-scenes made the announcement in a post on the Battle.net forums explaining what a difficult choice it was and, vaguely, where he's headed now.
Brode was one of the Hearthstone team’s first two developers alongside Eric Dodds. He graduated from content design to game director in 2016. Outside of Brode’s responsibilities within the studio, he was also known as the face of Hearthstone's development team. He was beloved in the community and... oh god, this is starting to sound like a eulogy. He's not dead! He's not dead! He's just moving on. Which is a shame because he was always a bit of a card, so what an appropriate game for this dude to oversee:
One of the most important sections of the note focuses on Brode distancing himself from responsibility for the game, but in an incredibly positive way. The sort of person who speaks with this lack of ego about their creative project is the sort of person that... well, you just hope that gaming hasn't broken their soul, because they deserve only good things.
I get too much credit by virtue of being a public face, but the 80+ people on the development team are still there, and they are the ones actually making the cards, brawls, events, missions, and features. I am confident the game is in the best possible hands, and I’m excited to see where a new generation of leaders takes Hearthstone from here.
Brode says the decision to leave was exceptionally difficult, but that he's moving on to create a new company, where he'll be able to create again. Brode seems to be in good spirits, and even says to Reddit basically "So long and thanks for all the memes!"
There is no team like the Hearthstone team. People have come and gone over the 10 years Hearthstone has been in development, but there’s something special about the Soul of the Team. We knew our most important product wasn’t the game, but the team itself. A great team can do great things, and I think the Hearthstone team is the greatest. It isn’t just a job. It’s a shared passion. We get to come to work and focus on the game we love and try to make it better every day.
We frequently check the Hearthstone subreddit looking for opportunities to improve the game. I have loved the silly memes, engaging in spirited debates, or even just being held accountable to our shared high standards for the game. We try to be highly available on social media, and I think our team helped push the envelope in this regard. It has been especially satisfying to me to see the team step up over the last few years and help engage in these ways as I became more focused on direction and less on actual design.
You can read the entire post from the Battle.net forums.
As a parting note here, just a reminder that folks in the industry burn out super fast and we're currently watching studios promise to murder themselves to get a game out on time, so hopefully Brode takes some much deserved R&R before moving on to the next thing.