Activision Blizzard brings back Warcraft & Diablo old-hand Chris Metzen in creative leadership shake-up

The former contributor worked with Blizzard during some of its most successful years as a SVP of story and franchise development

Activision Blizzard brings back Warcraft & Diablo old-hand Chris Metzen in creative leadership shake-up

Activision Blizzard is set to bring back Warcraft veteran Christopher Metzen in a new role as executive creative director for the Warcraft universe.

Metzen started his career with Blizzard in the company's early days and boasts a hugely respectable line-up of contributions to its output, including creative and graphic contributions to titles in their portfolio including Diablo and the original Warcraft: Orcs and Humans. After retiring from the company in 2016 he was brought back as an advisor in late 2022, and now it seems his expertise is bringing him out of retirement as he rejoins the company as the new executive creative director for Activision Blizzard's Warcraft franchise.

Naturally, Warcraft needs little introduction as it forms part of a long-running franchise of RTS titles that remains popular to this day, possibly the most iconic MMORPG in history with World of Warcraft. It's also the meta-setting for the hugely popular multiplatform CCG title Hearthstone - itself jumpstarting the career of multiple respected game designers like Ben Brode, who went on to form part of the core creative team for Second Dinner's Marvel Snap.

Getting back on top

The return of Metzen is possibly as symbolic as it is material - as some fans and critics have noted that Blizzard's recent output such as Overwatch 2 and expansions for World of Warcraft have proved lacklustre. Although other big franchises such as Diablo have had big hits, with both Diablo IV and mobile title Diablo Immortal, Warcraft remains the studio's flagship franchise. There's a reason it has an entire statue dedicated to it outside the company offices, after all.

There was already an indication that World of Warcraft would be getting a creative overhaul even before Metzen was brought back on board, and newfound attention to the breadwinner after Overwatch looked set to be the studio's big new IP certainly makes sense for Blizzard. With the ongoing AquiBlizz saga now seemingly wrapping up, it appears that the priority for Blizzard is to renew fan passion for its flagship franchise.

Metzen's return may be intended to publicly show that Blizzard is now looking to boost the franchise back to the days of yore when it was at the core of what was trending in gaming. It's possible that, given the success of Hearthstone and Diablo Immortal we may see this come in the form of new mobile titles, or at the very least newfound attention paid to this avenue in boosting the profile of the Warcraft franchise once more.

Thanks in no small part to such franchises, Activision Blizzard featured in our Top 50 Game Makers list.

Staff Writer

Iwan is a Cardiff-based freelance writer, who joined the Pocket Gamer Biz site fresh-faced from University before moving to the editorial team in November of 2023.