In a post on Twitter on Tuesday, Dave “Fargo” Kosak, lead narrative designer for Hearthstone and World of Warcraft, announced that he was leaving Blizzard Entertainment after 12 years at the company. Previously an executive editor and a founder of GameSpy, Kosak is now moving on to Deviation Games, a start-up that aims to “make the most engaging, innovative games on the planet,” according to its website.
The designer took the lead on Hearthstone after Ben Brode left the company in 2018 to launch his own game studio, Second Dinner. Kosak initially joined Blizzard as a designer for World Of Warcraft: Cataclysm, adding his own Dwarf OC Flintlocke into the Twilight Highlands as a quest giver. As for his role at Deviation Games, Kosak says, “I can’t say any more, but I promise it’ll make you go ‘whoa.'”
In 2016, Kosak took over as lead mission designer on Blizzard’s internal Team 5 to develop Hearthstone. Kosak is following in the footsteps of former vice president Chris Metzen who recently announced a new tabletop studio, Warchief, as well as Mike Morhaime, who left Blizzard in 2019 and launched Dreamhaven in September.
Founded in 1991 by Michael Morhaime, Allen Adham, and Frank Pearce as Silicon & Synapse, Blizzard has recently undergone numerous changes. Earlier this year, Bloomberg reported that Blizzard employees expressed concerns about low salaries compared to their relative cost of living. Several employees said they were having trouble making ends meet while watching Blizzard’s revenue grow each year.
In response, Blizzard spokesperson Jessica Taylor said, “Our goal has always been to ensure we compensate our employees fairly and competitively. We are constantly reviewing compensation philosophies to better recognize the talent of our highest performers and keep us competitive in the industry, all with the aim of rewarding and investing more in top employees.”
She also noted that in 2020, Blizzard’s top performers had received a pay increase that was 20% more than in previous years as well as promotions. “Our overall salary investment is consistent with prior years,” Taylor added. However, in internal messages seen by Bloomberg News, Blizzard employees said they were struggling to make ends meets. Meanwhile, Blizzard producers and engineers can earn more than $100,000 a year, yet video game testers and customer-service representatives make significantly less.
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