Thursday, July 3, 2014

Rob Pardo Leaving Blizzard

Rob Pardo, the chief creative officer at blizzard entertainment broke news today that he is leaving blizzard.  You can check out his post here.  This is a very big departure for the company at a time when most people might say they need some help to begin with.  Many people might ask who Rob is, or was as the case may be, at blizzard and that is because his name does not roll off the tongue the way ghostcrawlers did but trust me when I say he is just as if not more important to the development of games, not just warcraft, at blizzard.

We will not know what his future is until he decides to share that information with us and quite honestly I am sure when the time comes, as it seems he is taking the summer off, most people will have forgotten who is was so we might never know unless someone brings it up.  He was not the social butterfly like Greg was, at least not that I ever noticed.

I have this feeling, with absolutely no justification behind it or inside information, that his departure is akin to rats scurrying from a sinking ship.  He had been with the company for 17 years which is a life time in this industry so it is completely believable that he could just be looking for a change.  Also with his resume I am sure finding a new job will not take long and I would not be surprised if he does not have a few offers already sitting in his inbox after this was made public, so do not read anything into the fact he left without having another job, or at least he made it sound that way, like some people on the forums are sure to jump to the conclusion of.  I can already hear the sounds of fan boys yelling he got fired and even if it is possible he did I would not be so sure of that.

But that is the question I would want to ask because I made a post a few weeks ago about management at blizzard and it was their fault, completely, for the failure to release warlords sooner.  I still stand firmly behind that belief.  Do you think this change can breath new life into the game?

Shaking up the management system will surely have an effect on what we as players can expect in the future and when we can expect it.  As many people have said, myself included, it was time for some new blood in the top spots at blizzard and Rob stepping down allows someone else to get into one of those top of the top spots.

It would be a long time before we see any trickle down effect from changes at the top of the management pyramid because what is going on will continue to move forward, but come the future we might see some new and interesting changes because of it.

Some speculation you can be sure to see in the near future in threads about this will be if he felt pushed out because of the advanced negative publicity of warlords and the perceived,  even if wrongly so, extremely late release of it and game sweeping changes that keep creating more and more negativity in the camp of blizzards flagship game.  I wonder that a little myself.  Was all this weighing on him, it is part of why he left, only he knows and only he can tell us, but it is an interesting question because I know in his place I might have started to look elsewhere myself with how badly we, the players and community, have been responding to what he and so many worked so hard for.  This industry and the passionate players in it can be brutal on the people that they think are hurting it, right or wrong.

Is it a case of fleeing a sinking ship or is it a case of just moving on after 17 years in one place?  What do you think?

I wish Rob the best of luck and hope he enjoys his summer.  Maybe I'll see him again in another game.


  1. Option 3: Being "helped" out the door of an aircraft without a parachute (read: amicably fired) for having offended both the fellow passengers on the plane, but also the flight crew (read: MITLab quote and the drama storm around it)

    1. I also, first thought of the MIT talk and his incredibly poor choice of responses. But I imagine that is just more wishful thinking on my part than something that actually happened. I'd love to hear that they're hiring someone really progressive who's going to bring the game into the 21st century (see what I did there...).

      But, given we spent the first month of the summer watching an e-show about choppers, I doubt it.

      I imagine it had a lot to do with leaving a sinking ship. Whether people were blaming him for that, or he was blaming the company for it, that seems like the most likely option.

      Who knows though. Despite having some major political disagreements with the guy, I had thought he'd done a lot of good work in the past.

    2. It is always possible. I believe we will see more departures in the future too. Mutual, suggested, or fired remains to be seen.

      It was time for a management shake up. Just seems like an odd time for blizzard to do it, that is why it does not seem like he was fired, in my opinion at least. From a business stand point it would have been better to keep him on, release warlords, blame the failure on him, then fire him. Mean, nasty, scumbagish, sure, but it would also help the company tons in terms of good will if they hung the "its his fault" sign on someones back.

    3. @Del

      If he was lead out he door for his poor choice of world, which I think I mentioned in one of my posts a while back, blizzard would have made a big deal about letting him go because of it.

    4. I'm with Grumpy on this one it doesn't feel like a firing at all it really smells like the rats are leaving a sinking ship. Somethings rotten

  2. I think it's certainly possible that he was fired or was leaving a sinking ship, though the timing for the latter seems odd; surely he's been aware of the status of WoD since Q1, and perhaps even going back to 2013 Blizzcon. In that case, I would have thought that he would have "jumped ship" before Blizzard really started taking heat (deservedly so) for the current content drought.

    My guess is that now is just the intersection of both Blizzard and Pardo looking in different directions. Pardo would understandably be tired after 17(!!!) years at Blizzard; heck, thinking about the fact that WoW is a decade old is occasionally exhausting as a player, I can hardly imagine what it would be like to maintain enthusiasm for a project that long. Blizzard understands that MMO gaming is starting to move in different directions, and that just to extend the longevity of the game (let alone staying at the pinnacle) fresh direction is needed. It seems unlikely unlikely we'll ever really know, so I'm inclined to take it mostly at face value and not read more significance into it.

    I definitely agree with Grumpy that we're too far into WoD production to see really significant change from a creative perspective.... what will be telling is post-launch content (both timing and actual content) and the next expansion.

  3. Welll...

    We had GC Tweeting how Raiders were much lower in number than the Forums would suggest and that WoW wasn't a game about Raiding (which I read as 'most players don't Raid so one can't really claim that's what the game is about') despite throwing everything plus the kitchen sink at players to make them Raid.

    Shortly after, he joined LoL where he said that he had to make games at Blizz for (in short) 'filthy casuals' while he really wanted to work for 'hardcores'. I think he just realized that even his baby, LFR, didn't really work in making newcomers into 'hardcore' (Blizz said that newcomers tend to play LFR once and then leave as 'they felt they had finished the game').

    Now we have another of the 'EQ Raiders' leaving (Pardo was GM of Legacy of Steel before Kaplan/Tigole) and WoD development is reeling, with features being cut left and right, the Alpha being very, very small and short, and the whole Faction capitals business blowing up in their face (now the word being that basically they made them too pretty but too impractical, and with a December deadline looming, adding what the EU dubs 'Camp ZUGZUG and Fort CopyPaste' would be quickest, something they damningly knew for months while the biggest fans pre-purchased WoD partially because of Karabor etc.).

    If I were managing WoW now, I'd start bringing-in easy to make filler content like adding new Class options, 'Red Questing', and ways to acquire the now-defunct CCG Loot, and postpone WoD, instead of forcing out an unfinished and rushed Expansion and/or P.O. people off by removing content and their familliar characters/skills too soon.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I NEVER heard of a rushed-out MMORPG doing well, Cata was one example.

    So in short: rats leaving the ship, given all the troubles and hyper-hyper show at BlizzCon regarding WoD (with 'BlizzCON' taking a whole new meaning) and the fact that, like you said, firing someone BEFORE a rushed Expansion is just preventing having a sacrificial lamb.

    1. (Blizz said that newcomers tend to play LFR once and then leave as 'they felt they had finished the game').

      Do you have a source for that? That looks like the thing a hardcore player might say, not Blizzard. I doubt that it's true.

    2. They/GC said it around the time they (planned to) implement(ed) Flex and/or one of the quarterly updates indicating a small loss in subscribers last year, can't remember exactly when.

      The crux was that they had trouble retaining new players, that those tended to play LFR only once and not move on to higher difficulties, and that they left 'because they saw nothing to do'.

      Perhaps I added too much together/paraphrased things wrongly, but it seems kind of logical to me considering the way the game is marketted.

  4. After 10 years, WoW is slowly declining but still a gorilla in the industry. My guess is that Pardo has an offer elsewhere and he's taking now it do something new instead of plodding along with WoW another decade.

    My only concern is that new isn't always better. If you're unhappy with some of the decisions of the old WoW team, who's to say a new team won't be worse?

  5. I can't shake the feeling, he, like GC, want's to go before WoD hits and turns out to be new Cata.

    I bet, that "no flying" along with "ability pruning" will turn quite a few old ones away - but for someone new to WoW ... tell me what is the thing that creates interest here? MoP had Pandas and a completely new setting - WoD is a lot of old wine in a new cup.

    future will tell
    Rauxis, chosen of CAT

  6. I think the relation to the delay of WoD and general disarray which seems to be going on at Blizzard currently, is the reverse:

    Pardo for some reason decided to leave several months ago -> this contributed to the disarray, mismanagement got worse.

    Guys like Pardo can't leave out of the blue, they have to talk about that with whoever they are reporting to in advance, there has to be a transition. The transition typically slows things down and makes them worse, because there is serious pressure to resolve every pending conflict with a quick short-term fix (the guy is leaving soon).

    Whether or not the negative streak in Blizzard has finished, we don't know.

    1. Not to mention that during the transition seats get new owners, which gets a lot of people very agitated (hands off the work and on to the politics of who might go where and what that might mean, lots of energy funneled outside of production).

    2. Yup, there's no way he decided this week to up and go. This has been in the works for some time and could go a long way to explaining why the lead up to this expac has kind of gone to hell.

  7. The rumor I heard is that he jumped because they're going more into microtransactions, something he has stated would be a "betrayal". If this is true, the Vivendi buyout is probably a causal factor. This added debt, so there is more pressure to monetize, and Vivendi is no longer controlling the board to keep Kotick in check.

  8. It's probably too simple to just say leaving a sinking ship or '17 years and perhaps time to move on'. Likely a combination of those things and others. Reading past interviews, at heart Pardo really seems to miss the nitty-gritty of designing games, balancing units and that sort of thing. He's not really doing that at Blizzard, just being called in at various points by one team or another to pass judgement on something. He's probably had a few ideas for games over the last few years that aren't really Blizzard material and perhaps might want to get out for a bit, recharge his batteries, talk to people and choose his landing spot with that in mind.

    There's not a lot of potential for any real creativity in WoW any longer. The foundations of the game are set in concrete for better or worse. As much as Warlords looks to be a total reset of the game in many ways the fundamental game will be the same. If anything the game is reverting to be more like it was than pushing forward into anything truly new.

    In that case and given financial security that most anyone else would envy, it's pretty easy to see that he might want to move along to try something else for a while.

  9. On an unrelated note (except perhaps that Pardo was GM of the EQ 'uber Raid Guild' Legacy of Steel before fellow Dev Tigole/Jeffrey Kaplan) but something I had to let you know, Grumpy, as over the years you talked about it several times in relation to WoW:

    there is a big commotion going on at the LotRO-forums because the main CM 'snapped' and pointed out that Raiders make the smallest % of its player base, for years, and so (in short) should stop complaining about having no new raids (the vintage ones are of course still there, with many never having played them even once even amongst the target demographic)

  10. In terms of why he left now vs a few months down the road, at this point in the expansion progression WoD must be pretty much baked from a story perspective... they'll have mapped out the key points right through to the next expansion and probably have a pretty good idea what they want the next expansion to be. This is the point where I'd expect him to leave... before the summer and before the insane pre-expansion release stuff happens.

    How many of us have been in the same job for 17 years? I'll have had 4 in that same time period personally... these days it's really unusual for anyone to stay with a company that long. I don't read anything negative into his leaving after so long except that he's spent 10+ years working on WoW and may have had enough. Who can blame him? Many of us who don't live the game have had a similar reaction.

    1. 22 years military and now, almost 16 at the same college (actually 19 if you count my part time here). So yeah, some folks do stay in one place for a long time. :-)

    2. I am going to be celebrating 20 years at my job this year. Many people spend their lives in one job. Heck, we had someone retire last year that was here for 50 years. Yes, 50 years.

      I do agree however that it comes down to he spent all that time working on one thing and was looking for something else. As someone else mentioned however, this is probably not something that just popped up. He knew he was leaving for a while and so did they. Which makes one wonder if that is part of the reason for a delay, even if minimal.