Chris Metzen, the former senior vice president of story and franchise development at Blizzard, has returned to Warcraft, and this time it's for real. Blizzard announced today that Metzen has taken on a "full-time role" as the executive creative director of the Warcraft universe.
Metzen had a long and storied career at Blizzard, and was one of the company's most visible figures, known for his work on major game series including Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo. He was the creative director on the World of Warcraft MMO and some of its most popular expansions, including The Burning Crusade, Wrath of the Lich King, and Cataclysm, and held the same role for the multiplayer FPS Overwatch.
He announced his retirement from game development in 2016, the same year Overwatch came out, saying he wanted to take some time to focus on his family. He eventually decided to try his hand at board game development with a 2021 project called Auroboros: Coils of the Serpent, and in 2022 he dipped his toes back into the Warcraft waters by taking on the role of "creative advisor" on the Warcraft series. His new job sounds like it will be much more hands-on.
"We are excited to share that Chris Metzen has taken on a full-time role as Executive Creative Director of the Warcraft universe," Blizzard announced on Twitter. "Right now, his main focus is supporting our World of Warcraft leadership in crafting the next generation of adventures.
"Chris was instrumental in developing the foundations of the Warcraft universe, and we are thrilled for him to re-join our teams in shaping what's to come. At BlizzCon, he and the team will be sharing what we've been working on. We hope to see you there!"
Metzen teased that reveal in his own tweet announcing his comeback. "It's been amazing working on Warcraft again," he wrote. "Like coming home. The stories we're developing right now—how the world unfolds over the next few years... Well, I can't wait for y'all to see where we're headed."
It's a portentous comment: Many players expect Blizzard will unveil a new World of Warcraft expansion at BlizzCon. Beginning with Wrath of the Lich King in 2008, WoW expansions have dropped at a rate of one every two years, with the most recent, Dragonflight, arriving in 2022. That makes 2024 the presumed target for the next expansion, which fits with a BlizzCon 2023 reveal in November.
Metzen's return to Warcraft comes at a time when Blizzard is in flux. Last-minute downgrades to Overwatch 2 left fans unsatisfied and angry, while Diablo 4 stumbled badly at launch and is still struggling to find its footing. Blizzard also never seemed to fully recover from the allegations of widespread discrimination and sexual harassment at the company, something Metzen apologized for in 2021: He was never publicly implicated in any wrongdoing, but said that he and other people in leadership positions at Blizzard "failed too many people when they needed us because we had the privilege of not noticing, not engaging, not creating necessary space for the colleagues who needed us as leaders."