Blizzard Entertainment was founded by Allen Adham, Michael Morhaime and Frank Pearce on February 1991. After graduating from UCLA a year before, the three computing graduates decided to form a gaming company called Silicon & Synapse, which referred to the building block of the computer (silicon) and the human mind (synapse).
Under that name, the company developed games for the Super NES like Rock n' Roll Racing, The Lost Vikings and Blackthorne. Silicon & Synapse garnered many awards within those years but received backlash for its company name. Many mistook it to be a breast implant firm because of the word "silicon," which led them to briefly changed its name to Chaos Studios but it did not help either. Many people had trouble pronouncing the name (mispronunciations ranged from "chows" to "Chads") and discovered that another company with the Chaos name already existed.
In early 1994 they were acquired by distributor Davidson & Associates for $6.75 million. The same year the three year old gaming company switched its name to Ogre Studios but Davidson & Associates went against it because they felt "ogre" was too scary for the target audience. Finally, after numerous discussions within the team, they finally settled on Blizzard Entertainment.
Blizzard's three main intellectual properties include the Warcraft, StarCraft, and Diablo franchises. Each franchise boasts an impressive, and almost "cult-like" following of fans, that have made Blizzard one of the most easily recognizable names in the gaming industry today.
Blizzard currently has several known games in development: StarCraft II (Heart of the Swarm, and Legacy of the Void), World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria and their "Next-Gen" MMO Titan.
In July 2008 Vivendi Games, who at the time owned Blizzard Entertainment, merged with game publisher Activision. Using Blizzard's name as a marketing tool to promote the company and deal as a merger and not a direct buyout, named the resulting company Activision Blizzard.
It is due to this incredible community that has developed around these three unique IPs and the unprecedented success of their hit titles like StarCraft and World of Warcraft that Blizzard is able to host it's own convention's; namely BlizzCon and the Worldwide Invitational (or WWI). These conventions boast a number of incredible events such as tournaments for Warcraft 3, StarCraft, and World of Warcraft arena tournaments, costume and machinima contests, as well as major announcements concerning their three flagship franchises.
- The first BlizzCon was held in Anaheim, California at the Anaheim Convention Center in 2005 and has since been held on a semi-regular basis. It has been held since in 2007, 2008, and 2009. In July 2008, Blizzard announced they would be partnering with DirectTV to televise BlizzCon 2008.
- The third Worldwide Invitational was held in May 2007 in Seoul, Korea and featured the unveiling of the highly anticipated StarCraft II. The fourth WWI was held in Paris, France in June 2008 with the announcement of Diablo III and information concerning the second expansion to their massive multiplayer online RPG World of Warcraft, The Wrath of the Lich King. Previous WWI events were held in Seoul, Korea and featured professional, or "eSports" tournaments but no new product announcements.
- On top of the many prizes and tournaments going on, Blizzard has also made a habit out of giving away special codes that can be redeemed in World of Warcraft for different aesthetic purposes. Things such as in-game pets that follow a player around, or a suit that dresses them up are just a few things that Blizzard has given away exclusively at their events.
- Blizzard has announced and is holding the next Blizzcon in August of 2009. The convention will, as the previous Blizzcon of 2008, be available to non-attendee's through DirectTV for a nominal fee. It will also be available for purchase to be viewed via a streaming feed online.
- Blizzard has announced that BlizzCon 2010 is scheduled for October 2010 at the Anaheim Convention Center.
- Blizzard canceled BlizzCon 2012, in order to have more time to work on their current projects.
In 1997 Blizzard released an online gaming service called Battle.net that allows players from around the world to play together for free. This service has been implemented into most of Blizzard's titles. Battle.net has an array of functions including a matchmaking service and custom gameplay support that allows players to create their own maps and game types to share and play online. One such game type called Defense of the Ancients (or DoTA) in WarCraft 3 has since grown to become somewhat of a phenomenon similar to the original Counter-Strike mod for Half-Life.
With the release of StarCraft II, Blizzard announced that an all new Battle.net service titled Battle.net 2.0 will launch concurrently with the game. Battle.net 2.0 features cross game features with all upcoming Blizzard Entertainment games, including backwards compatibility with World of WarCraft. In 2009, Blizzard required all World of Warcraft accounts be changed into battle.net accounts to prepare for the service.
Games of Blizzard
As Silicon & Synapse
As Blizzard Entertainment
Games In Development or Rumored
Former Key Figures
- Diablo 2, which was the sequel to Blizzard's hit game Diablo, was considered to be the most highly anticipated game ever at the time of its release in 2000.
- In their real time strategy releases, clicking a critter repeatedly about twenty times will cause it to explode.
- The cheat code "operation cwal" that can be used in StarCraft is a nod to a group of Blizzard fan's that greatly anticipated the release of the game; "cwal" stands for "can't wait any longer".
- A group of gamers reverse engineered the network protocol used by Battle.net and released a free version of the service called bnetd that did not require players to use the official Blizzard servers to host games. Blizzard threatened legal action and filed a lawsuit against the developers which eventually caused the service to shut down.
- The three viking characters (Erik the Swift, Baleog the Fierce, and Olaf the Stout) from Blizzard's game "The Lost Vikings" can be found in their MMORPG World of Warcraft in the Uldaman dungeon camping in a side tunnel off of the main zone.
- Notable title cancellations from Blizzard include Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans which was cancelled in 1998, Shattered Nations, and StarCraft: Ghost which was "indefinetely postponed" in 2006.
- Blizzard was honored in 2008 at the 59th Annual Technology & Enginerring Emmy Awards for the creation of World of Warcraft. The award was accepted by Michael Morhaime.
- It has been announced by Blizzard that they will be producing a live-action Warcraft movie to be released by Legendary Pictures.
- Blizzard was originally to be the company to publish Pax Imperia II but the project was dropped when it was decided that it would be in conflict with their other space-based RTS StarCraft. THQ eventually struck a deal with Heliotrope to have the game published under the title Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain.