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Blizzard Entertainment has acquired Spellbreak maker Proletariat to strengthen the roster of massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft.
Under the deal, Boston-based Proletariat will become part of Blizzard, and its 100-person team will begin work on World of Warcraft, including the Dragonflight expansion due later this year. Spellbreak, a battle royale game where wizards and witches cast spells on each other, will be sunset. (Company announced This news was yesterday.)
The move is Blizzard’s biggest acquisition to expand its studios — in the last decade at least — to expand its studios. In this case, the mission is to strengthen World of Warcraft’s roster so it can meet quality and timing goals for expansions. The terms of this transaction were not disclosed.
Activision Blizzard, Blizzard’s parent company, also shut down Vicarious VisionsA longtime Activision studio, he joined Blizzard in January 2021 to work on the Diablo franchise. However, Blizzard was not particularly acquisitive, as one of the few events we can remember was its 2005 acquisition of Swinging Ape. A little in its early days before landing with Activision Blizzard in 2008. Proletariat has been working with Blizzard since May.
“We put the players first in everything we do, and we work hard to both come together and come together.
“It exceeds our expectations,” Blizzard Entertainment president Mike Ybarra said in a statement. “A big part of caring for our teams is making sure we have the resources to produce experiences our communities will love, while giving our teams space to explore even more creative opportunities in their projects. Proletariat is an excellent choice to support Blizzard’s mission to bring high-quality content to our players more often.”
It’s a strange time for Blizzard to do this as a parent. In the process of acquiring Activision Blizzard $68.5 billion by Microsoft and Blizzard Entertainment was the primary division under investigation on a large scale by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit Against Activision Blizzard.
coping with past difficulties
John Hight, World of Warcraft’s general manager at Blizzard, said with GamesBeat that it’s been tough to support Shadowlands last year and acknowledged that there are huge gaps between WoW content updates. Fans always wanted more, and as the team continued to increase in size, it was difficult to recruit.
I asked Seth Sivak, Proletariat’s CEO, if the company was hesitating on the deal because of Blizzard’s waning reputation that has taken a hit in recent years. I’ve talked about the sex discrimination investigation, criticism of the Shadowlands expansion, the departure of several prominent developers, and other talent losses.
“We had a very open and transparent discussion on this issue,” Sivak said. said. “I think the Blizzard team is recognizing some of the challenges they are facing. In some of the early conversations, we discussed how they look at developing the culture and continuing to create a great place for developers to work. ”
he added, “That was encouraging. Obviously, there’s a lot of work to be done to continue creating a great place for developers to work. But we were very happy and satisfied with the direction the teams were going.”
Hight said it was “devastating” for him to experience and hear about last year’s turmoil. But he noted that the company had changed its culture and that it was “one and not done.”
He said you have to change your culture. Now you need to make sure that our workplace is more inclusive. You have to make sure that those who do WoW and those who play WoW are well supported.”
As for the Microsoft deal, Sivak said he doesn’t know what will change as a result, but is excited about the way the company is going. Asked if the company would work on new games, Sivak said that for now, the focus is on helping build WoW. Hight said the goal is to provide access not only to a talented team, but also to a senior leadership team with a lot of experience.
How the deal came together
“As you probably know, people at World of Warcraft have an insatiable appetite for content,” Hight said. “What we’ve seen over the past year is that we need to increase the amount of content we can create and how often we put it into the hands of our players.”
Late last year, the company began looking for other opportunities besides hiring more people at its own studio. Outside partners sought out and Proletariat was shortlisted as it is a well known game studio.
“My first conversation with Seth was in December,” Hight said. “I was really impressed with him. And then the team felt he had so much in common and knew so much about World of Warcraft. The team had the ability to do the stylized art we do and work within the medieval fantasy we love. And they had so many fans. So our discussions arose.”
Sivak said that the company is also looking for what to do next. He said the team saw an opportunity to evolve as a studio, and working on World of Warcraft would fulfill its mission of delivering great multiplayer games. Over the past few months, they’ve started talking more seriously.
“We’re really excited about the opportunity to expand the world of Azeroth for gamers,” said Sivak.
Industry consolidation offers Blizzard some exciting opportunities, as it now has studios working on WoW that have the potential to tap into new talent resources, Hight said. Of course, the pandemic has made it difficult in some ways to recruit people, and the Proletariat is not yet operating in the office in Boston. Blizzard sometimes has options, including working in the office.
Hight noted that the company has shipped multiple expansions with a remote workforce, and the company has options for a hybrid environment.
“This is one of the things that made this decision easier for us to start working with the Proletariat, as they have a large remote workforce,” said Hight.
Sivak said, “As we looked at where the next chapter would be for the proletariat, this opportunity meant that we could only accelerate what we wanted to do. It’s really cool to be able to work for World of Warcraft audiences. And the level of ambition where I think both teams want to take World of Warcraft is incredibly exciting for us.”
Hight said some of Proletariat’s work will appear in the Dragonflight expansion. And the Proletariat will be added to its roster in Boston.
Proletariat was founded in 2012 by industry veterans of Insomniac, Harmonix and Turbine. The team has experience creating MMORPGs and includes former lead designers of Asheron’s Call, Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online, among others. At Proletariat, the team has been running live games for nearly a decade, most recently releasing its cross-platform action-spellcasting battle royale game Spellbreak in fall 2020.
However, Sivak admitted that while the game received good reviews, it never reached “escape speed” in terms of increasing user numbers to justify its continued existence. The company had made relatively few updates for the game recently.
“Spellbreak was a critical success and we felt we delivered something really new in the battle royale genre,” Sivak said. Said. “There’s a lot of competition in this space where you’re competing with some of the biggest games in the world. We just didn’t get the escape velocity we needed to keep expanding it.”
Proletariat started working with the World of Warcraft development team in May and is fully
It will be integrated into Blizzard Entertainment in the coming months.
“The really exciting part is what we’re going to build forward,” Sivak said. “That was the real selling point for us, the level of ambition for what we want to do with World of Warcraft.”
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