Mike Morhaime steps down as Blizzard president; J Allen Brack takes over

    
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Oh gosh why.

Looks like there’s a changing of the guard over at Activision Blizzard: The company just announced that World of Warcraft Executive Producer J. Allen Brack is taking over from Mike Morhaime as president of Blizzard. Morhaime will remain with the company as a “strategic advisor.” There’s a bit more to the leadership shift too, as Allen Adham and Ray Gresko have been appointed to the company’s “executive leadership team.”

Here’s the whole press release, complete with quotes from Actiblizz CEO Bobby Kotick.

Activision Blizzard, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced the appointment of Blizzard veteran and World of Warcraft® Executive Producer J. Allen Brack as the new president of Blizzard Entertainment succeeding Mike Morhaime, who will remain a strategic advisor to the company. The company also announced the appointments of Chief Development Officer Ray Gresko and Blizzard Founder Allen Adham to Blizzard’s executive leadership team.

“J. has been with Blizzard for over 12 years leading the World of Warcraft team, and it takes vision, creativity and unwavering commitment to excellence to sustain a community of players the way J. has for over a decade,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “J. is an inspiring leader. He has shown unwavering commitment to our community, to innovation and creative excellence and he cares deeply about ensuring the very best of Blizzard culture will be protected.”

“I am also excited to have Allen Adham, Blizzard’s founder, who rejoined the company two years ago and Ray Gresko, Blizzard’s Chief Development Officer, join Blizzard’s executive leadership team. I have known both Allen and Ray for more than 25 years and they are two of the most capable entrepreneurs in the game industry. They will help make certain that inspiration and creativity remains the focus of Blizzard,” said Kotick.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled to serve as Blizzard’s next president, and to lead one of the best entertainment companies in the world, thanks to the passion and dedication of our player community and employees,” said J. Allen Brack, president, Blizzard Entertainment. “Blizzard was founded on the promise of making great games, and I plan to continue this fierce commitment to quality, our community, and our purpose. I couldn’t be more excited about what’s next given the strength of our pipeline.”

“Thanks to Mike Morhaime’s wonderful stewardship and masterful job of building a truly extraordinary team, epic games and a global community of beloved players, Blizzard is one of the very best game companies in the world,” Kotick added.

“I want to thank all of the talented and hardworking people at Blizzard for their dedication, creativity and passion. It has been a privilege to lead this team. I’m also very grateful to Blizzard‘s player community for their support,” said Mike Morhaime.

Brack, MMORPG players will recall, has been spearheading the WoW Classic effort. Should make for an even more interesting BlizzCon, yeah?

Update
Morhaime and Brack have now posted a message to WoW players too. Morhaime reflects on his 27 years with the company but says he’s simply decided to pass the torch. “After many years of working with some of the industry’s most talented people to create games and worlds for you to play in, I’ve decided it’s time for someone else to lead Blizzard Entertainment,” he writes. “I will now serve as an advisor to the company I so love and admire. My duties as president of Blizzard will be assumed by my friend, colleague, trusted advisor, and longtime steward of World of Warcraft, J. Allen Brack.”
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ghostlight

Definitely best wishes to Mike in his retirement, new endeavors, whatever he decides to do. To me he was one of the gaming gods back in Blizzard’s heyday of the original StarCraft and Warcraft 3, and up there with gaming greats like Warren Spector, Sid Meier, and Ragnar Tørnquist.

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John Mynard

I wish him the best.

But, more seriously, Bobby Kotick is still running Activision? I thought he was ‘dead’ and gone after his shenanigans a few years ago.

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Max Sand

I think they just follow him around to make sure he doesn’t talk to media, but he’s still in charge.

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Armsbend

I wish him the best – he gave us his best through the years.

Celestia
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Celestia

No doubt he’s putting the company in good hands and has deservedly earned a very happy retirement.

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Utakata

I keep thinking Mr. Brack was the phasing go-to-guy when it was introduced back in Wrath. That’s quite the step up! O.o

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I always thought Brack was that cat looking guy from Space Ghost Coast to Coast.

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Dividion

Technically that was Brak, and he even got his own show, aptly named “The Brak Show”.

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Nate Woodard

Ouch! Showing your age there! Showing my age, too!!

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Hirku

Yikes, I remember the Hanna-Barbera original: SPAAAAAAAAAACE GHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOST!

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

The king is dead, long live the King!

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Wilhelm Arcturus

You don’t want to do that either. You think you do, but you don’t.

-J. Allen Brack, on the WoW classic server idea at BlizzCon 2013

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Sally Bowls

And Bliz is spending millions of dollars to prove him correct.

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jealouspirate

Man, he’s never going to be allowed to live that down, eh? Even going on stage at BlizzCon, admitting he was wrong, doing a complete 180 and fulfilling the dreams of everyone who wanted classic servers.

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Greaterdivinity

Well this year’s Blizzcon is going to be interesting. I fully anticipate a slew of conspiracy theories about his departure bubbling up around then, if not already.

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Utakata

…not surprising. Folks there even adorn /tinfoil hats when there’s a slight class change in WoW. o.O

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athiev

It will be interesting to see if there is further leadership turnover in the coming weeks, which might color this as a corporate shakeup, or if this is all in which case it may well be personal.

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Hirku

Good for him! I’d phone in my strategic advice from a very remote beach.

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Sally Bowls

I’d phone in my strategic advice from a very remote beach.

a/k/a Retiring to spend more time with his money.

Theryl
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Theryl

Can’t blame the guy, after 27 years he’s earned a little R&R.

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Utakata

Actually…he sorta has a remote beach named after him in Stormheim. Warning though, it’s infested with Murlocs. :(