Blizzard has acquired Spellbreak Studio Proletariat to support World of Warcraft

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Spellbreak has been acquired by Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of Proletariat, to boost the teamwork of the multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft.

Under the agreement, Boston-based Proletariat will become part of Blizzard, and its 100-person team will begin work on World of Warcraft, including the Dragonflight expansion later this year. Spellbreak, a battle royale game where witches cast spells on each other, it will be sunset. (company announce This news was yesterday.)

The move is the largest acquisition that Blizzard has made – at least over the past decade – to expand its studios. In this case, the task is to strengthen the staff in World of Warcraft so that they can meet the quality and timing goals of the expansions. The terms of this deal were not disclosed.

Activision Blizzard, the parent company of Blizzard . has also been folded mutual visionsa longtime Activision studio, was in Blizzard to work on the Diablo franchise in January 2021. But Blizzard wasn’t a special acquisition, as one of the few we can remember was the acquisition of Swinging Ape in 2005. Instead, Blizzard itself was damaged around some The thing is in its early days before landing with Activision Blizzard back in 2008. Proletariat has been with Blizzard since May.

World of Warcraft Dragonflight is coming this year.

“We put the players at the forefront of everything we do, and we work hard to meet and
It “exceeds their expectations,” Mike Ybarra, president of Blizzard Entertainment, said in a statement. “A huge part of caring for our teams is making sure we have the resources to produce experiences our communities will love while giving our teams the space to explore more creative opportunities within their projects. Proletariat is well-suited to supporting Blizzard’s mission of delivering quality content to our players more often.”

It’s an embarrassing time for Blizzard to do this, as her father Activision Blizzard under acquisition from Microsoft for $68.5 billion. And Blizzard Entertainment was the major department under investigation by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing Sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuit Against Activision Blizzard.

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Dealing with the challenges of the past

World of Warcraft Dragonflight has reinforcements.

John Hight, general manager of World of Warcraft at Blizzard, said in an interview with GamesBeat that Shadowlands has been difficult to support last year, and acknowledged that there are significant gaps between WoW content updates. Fans have always wanted more, and while the team continued to increase in size, hiring was tough.

I asked Seth Sivak, chief executive of Proletariat, if the company was hesitant about the deal due to Blizzard’s poor reputation, which has taken a hit in recent years. You mentioned the investigation of sexism, criticism of the Shadowlands expansion, the departure of several well-known developers, and the loss of other talent.

“We’ve had a kind of open and transparent conversation about this,” Sivak said. “And I think the Blizzard team recognized some of the challenges they faced. In some early conversations, we discussed how they were looking at continuing to improve the culture and continuing to provide a great place for developers to work.”

He added, “That was encouraging. There is clearly a lot of work to be done to continue providing a great place for software developers to work. But we have been very happy and satisfied with the direction the teams are going.”

Height said it was “sad” for him to go through the turmoil of the last year and to hear about the things that had happened. But he noted that the company is changing its culture and that it “has not been done”.

He said, “You have to change your culture. You have to make sure that it is now more inclusive in our workplace. You have to make sure that the people who make WoW and the people who play WoW are well supported.”

As for the Microsoft deal, Sivak said he doesn’t know what change will happen as a result, but is excited about the direction the company is taking. Asked if the company will be working on new games, Sivak said the focus at the moment is to help build WoW. Hight said the goal was to reach not only a talented team but a senior leadership team that has a lot of experience.

How did the deal come together

Seth Sivak is the CEO of Proletariat.
Seth Sivak is the CEO of Proletariat.

“As you probably know, the people in World of Warcraft have a voracious appetite for content,” Height said. “And what we’ve seen over the past year is that we need to increase the amount of content we can create, and frequently put it in the hands of our players.”

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Towards the end of last year, the company started looking for other opportunities besides hiring more people for its in-house studio. I searched for external partners and Proletariat was on the shortlist because it was a well known game studio.

“My first conversation with Seth was in December,” said Haight. “I was really impressed with it. And then the team felt like they had a lot in common and had a lot of knowledge of World of Warcraft. The team had the ability to do stylized art, which we do, and work within medieval fantasy, which we love. And they had a lot.” From fans. It followed from our discussions.”

Sivak said the company was also looking at what to do next. He said the team saw the opportunity to develop as a studio and work in World of Warcraft that would fulfill the mission of delivering great multiplayer games. They started talking more seriously in the past two months.

“The opportunity to expand the Azeroth realm for players really got us excited,” Sivak said.

Hight said the industry consolidation gives Blizzard some exciting opportunities, as it now has studios working on WoW on both coasts, with the potential to tap into new sources of talent. Of course, the epidemic has made it difficult to employ people in some respects, and the proletariat is not yet employed in the Boston office. Blizzard itself has options that include working in the office sometimes.

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 so easy for us to start working with Proletariat, as they have a large remote work force,” Hait said.

Sivak said, “When we looked at where the next chapter for the proletariat would be, this opportunity just meant we could speed up what we wanted to do. Being able to work with the fans of World of Warcraft is really great. And the level of ambition where I think both teams want to take World of Warcraft. of Warcraft is very exciting for us.”

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Height said that some of the work of the proletariat will appear in the Dragonflight expansion. It will add a “proletariat” to its Boston staff.

John Hyet is the Managing Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard.
John Hyet is the Managing Director of World of Warcraft at Blizzard.

Proletariat was founded in 2012 by industry veterans from Insomniac, Harmonix and Turbine. The team has experience building MMORPGs and includes, among others, the former lead designers of Asheron’s Call, Lord of the Rings Online, and Dungeons & Dragons Online. At Proletariat, the team has run live games for nearly a decade, having recently released the cross-platform Battle Royale game, Spellbreak, in the fall of 2020.

But Sivak conceded that the game, despite getting good reviews, has never reached “escape speed” in terms of increased user numbers to justify its continued existence. The company has made relatively few updates to the game recently.

“Spellbreak was a huge success, and we felt like we brought something new to the battle royale genre,” said Sevak. “There is a lot of competition in this area, competing with some of the biggest games in the world. We haven’t been able to get the escape velocity needed for us to continue expanding it.”

Proletariat began working with the World of Warcraft development team in May and will be fully
It was incorporated into Blizzard Entertainment over the coming months.

“The really exciting part is what we are going to build in the future,” 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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