We don’t normally cover personnel changes at Blizzard, even fairly impactful ones like Chakki joining the Hearthstone balance team next month, but this is big. Really big.
This morning, Hearthstone’s Game Director and Unofficial Hype-Man, Ben Brode, announced that today will be his last day at Blizzard. He will be leaving to help found a new company. It is almost unfathomable to think of Hearthstone without Ben Brode, who has become so deeply entwined with the game. We have hope for Hearthstone going forward, and we wish Brode the best of luck in his future endeavors, but we sure are going to miss the big guy.
I’m not crying; you’re crying.
After 15 years at Blizzard and almost 10 years working on Hearthstone, I have made the incredibly difficult decision to embark on a new journey.
Man, that was a hard sentence to type.
I was 20 years old when I started here. My first role was ‘Night Crew Game Tester.’
Since then, Blizzard has been good to me. I got to cast esports events, announce BlizzCons, play in Rock Bands, write raps, and work with incredible people. But the biggest opportunity came in 2008 when I joined “Team 5.” The Hearthstone Team.
I am very proud of Hearthstone. I think we made an impact on the industry. People tell me that Hearthstone brought their family closer together, or that they became close friends with people they met at a Fireside Gathering. Others tell me they were inspired by Hearthstone to become game developers themselves. It’s incredible to be a part of something that touches so many people.
But as proud as I am of Hearthstone, I am even more proud of the team.
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.
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.
I am very fortunate to be able to take a crazy risk right now in my life, and I’m excited to be scrappy and a little scared. I’m going to help start a new company. We’ll probably make games, but we haven’t figured anything else out, yet. I’m looking forward to designing, programming, and actually creating things again. I’m going to miss the on-campus Starbucks, though. Dang.
Blizzard, thank you for taking a chance on me, and thank you for taking a chance on Hearthstone. I can’t wait to see what you do next.
And to the passionate community of players – I will miss you, and the laughs we shared together. Thank you for making being a part of Hearthstone so much fun for me. I’ve loved every minute.