Rob Pardo was an important developer in Blizzard Entertainment history. When he joined Blizzard in 1989, it was to work on the up-and-coming strategy title Starcraft. He would then go on to work on World of Warcraft and Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, before going on to be executive producer behind Diablo III and Hearthstone. Pardo, as such, was a veteran designer and producer, responsible for some of Blizzard’s most notorious and well-made games. As such, when he left back in 2014, it was with sadness from the community, and everyone was interested to see what happened next.
When Bonfire Studios was announced, it was a surprise to me. I expected Pardo to go back into game development without a doubt, as he has clear and evident skill there, but creating a new studio is a lofty task. His team consists of Josh Mosqueira – the former creative director behind Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, a much-needed expansion to a stagnating game, Matthew Versluys, who was at one point the director of Battle.net – the system that links all Blizzard games together, and is essentially the social integration in all of their titles, and Nick Carpenter, who is the former Vice President of Art and Cinematic Development, notable for his work on the film Warcraft.
However, the partnership with Riot Games is the thing that most catches my interest. Riot, responsible for the creation of the somewhat infamous game League of Legends, shows a curious move in backing this team of veteran developers.
Since Tenecet bought a majority holding in Riot Games back in 2011, Riot’s influence over the global market grew as it found its place in China. As a consequence, it might be expected that Riot is investing into the new Bonfire Studios in order to have a certain degree of influence on the games to come out from it.
The combination of team-members is definitely an asset. Anyone who’s seen the trailer for World of Warcraft: Legion, or the Warcraft movie, knows that Blizzard’s skill with cinematography and computer-generated imagery are second to none. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls was a much-needed breath of fresh air after Diablo II stagnated horribly. Reaper of Souls reinvigorated the entire game in the best possible way. Battle.net is an excellent foundation for all Blizzard games, and is in my opinion, the best way to implement a combined social system with support functionality.
It’s safe to say that I’m not the only one waiting with bated breath to see what this excellent combination of veteran developers will create next.