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Blizzard story overlord Chris Metzen retires aged 42

"I won't lie - it's going to be really hard stepping away."

Chris Metzen is retiring. He's leaving Blizzard Entertainment after more than 20 years' service. He, the overseer of story at arguably the world's most successful game maker. He, the earring-wearing cool guy on the BlizzCon stage. He, the voice of Thrall. Retiring. And he's only 42.

Metzen is retiring because, let's face it, he can, and because he has a wife and three kids - including a newborn baby - to focus on. "That's my career now," Metzen wrote at the end of a heartfelt open letter that I've pulled chunks from below.

"I had just turned 20 years old when I started working at Blizzard," the letter began. "Seems like a lifetime ago. Guess it was.

"For nearly 23 years I've had the very distinct privilege of shaping worlds and building games with the brightest creative minds in entertainment. I've walked with giants (and stood on some giants' shoulders, too). In short, I've had the time of my life.

"Sometimes it was really hard ... sometimes it wasn't all that pretty. But engaging with your teammates and collaborating through the potential quagmire of all that creative tension is where the real magic happens.

"I've never been more proud of Blizzard and the quality of its products than I am now," he added. "It's remarkable that even after all these years we can still reach new heights and take the world for an amazing ride. I believe Blizzard's future is brighter than ever.

"The reason I use the word 'retire' is because I'm not going to some other company or starting up new projects or anything remotely like that. It's been a long, amazing stretch of years. Now it's time to slow it down. Rest. Lay around on the couch and get fat."

Oli wrote a nice piece after meeting Chris Metzen in 2011, delving into Metzen's mind and his role at Blizzard, and how things get made there.

Cover image for YouTube video
Metzen's cameo in the Warcraft film he co-produced.

Metzen joined Blizzard in the early '90s but his first major imprint was on Warcraft 2: Tides of Darkness in 1995. He went on to help create the Diablo universe in 1996, was the lead designer of StarCraft in 1998, and was creative director of Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos in 2002. He's been creative director of pretty much every Blizzard game since, most recently Overwatch - one helluva way to sign out. Did you know Metzen wrote a separate-from-Blizzard comic series called Soldier: 76 in 2005?

In short, Metzen's imprint is all over Blizzard as you know it. He leaves a rock-solid company in rude health behind, but one that will never quite be the same without him.

Cheers, Chris!