Blizzard North, formerly known as Condor, was the Bay Area division of Blizzard Entertainment, known for the Diablo series. The studio was originally based in Redwood City, California, and then moved a short distance away to San Mateo, California, with Blizzard proper being based in Irvine (in southern California).
Blizzard North was originally an independent company. It was established in 1993 under the name Condor, founded by Max Schaefer, Erich Schaefer, and David Brevik. The company was purchased and renamed "Blizzard North" by Blizzard about six months before the release of their hit PC game, Diablo, in 1996. During the development period, Condor had been on the brink of insolvency several times, but the game's success guaranteed their stability. Structurally, Blizzard North was considered an independent studio from Blizzard South, but also reported to them. There was never a real structure on how Blizzard North had to operate in regards to its parent company.
Diablo proved to be incredibly successful, and their 2000 sequel Diablo II was more successful yet. An expansion pack followed the year after.
By June 2003 two new games were in production. However on June 30 2003, several key employees left Blizzard North to form the new companies Flagship Studios (8 moved here) and Castaway Entertainment (9 moved here). The Blizzard North exodus continued on with around 30 employees leaving the company in total.
The resignations were partly due to a conflict with Blizzard Entertainment's owner, Vivendi, and partly due to employees wishing to start something new. Back at Blizzard North, however, they would have a common effect; of the two unannounced games that were in production at the time, one was now forced to be canceled. Blizzard Entertainment has since said the canceled game was a "Blizzard North kind of game".
On August 1 2005, Blizzard Entertainment announced the closure of Blizzard North. A key reason for the closure was Blizzard North's poor development of what was to be Diablo III which did not meet the expectations of Vivendi. Former Blizzard North staffers including Joseph Lawrence, Wyatt Cheng and Matt Uelman subsequently appeared in the credits of Blizzard's next retail release, World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade. The work of former Blizzard North artist Phroilan Gardner was also featured in editions of World of Warcraft: The Trading Card Game around the same time.
A few employees from the Diablo team, including Eric Sexton, Michio Okamura and Steven Woo, organized to launch a new company, Hyboreal Games. Only a few joined Team 3 in development of Blizzard South's version of Diablo III.
- Justice League Task Force (1995)
As Blizzard NorthEdit
- Diablo (1996) - action-oriented computer role-playing game
- Diablo II (2000) - action-oriented CRPG
- Diablo II: Lord of Destruction (2001) - expansion pack
- Second Diablo II expansion
- Diablo Junior
- Diablo III (project later completed by Blizzard Entertaiment)
Blizzard North had 12 members by the time it began work on Diablo I. This had reached 14/15 by the time of the game's release. This increased to 24 at the start of development of Diablo II, and had grown to 40 by 2000. Notable members included:
- Karin Colenzo (office manager)
- Kelly Johnson (artist)
- Michio Okamura (character artist)
- Stieg Hedlund (designer)
- Matt Householder
- Richard Seis (programmer)
- Phil Shenk (art director)
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 2015-09-08, In Their Own Words: An Oral History of Diablo II With David Brevik, Max Schaefer, and Erich Schaefer. US Gamer, accessed on 2015-09-11
- ↑ 2015-09-13, Page 3: In Their Own Words: An Oral History of Diablo II With David Brevik, Max Schaefer, and Erich Schaefer. US Gamer, accessed on 2015-09-15
- ↑ Hyboreal Games Q&A - Shacknews - PC Games, PlayStation, Xbox 360 and Wii video game news, previews and downloads
- ↑ Paul Loughrey (November 29, 2005). "Blizzard North veterans form new independent development studio". gamesindustry.biz. Retrieved on 2007-05-05.
- ↑ 2011-11-29, Diablo III feature: Blizzard's plans to satisfy their fanbase and still deliver a fresh experience. PC Gamer, accessed on 2014-11-10
- ↑ 2000-10-25, Postmortem: Blizzard's Diablo II. Gamasutra, accessed on 2015-07-04