Another Blizzard/WoW veteran is leaving the US game company. Chris Kaleiki worked on WoW for 13 years, starting out as a system designer responsible for classes and PvP. He created the Monk in MoP and was most recently responsible for War Mode, Legendarys in Shadowlands, and the Shadow Priest overhaul. Even before his Blizzard days, he was a big Blizzard fan and played Starcraft and WoW in early beta. In his video, he explains why he left Blizzard after all this time.
Fun Fact: According to Kaleki, there were only two class designers in WotLK.
Why did Chris Kaleiki leave Blizzard? The video is by no means a reckoning with the company or the like, after all Kaleiki still has many friends at Blizzard, some of them are like family to him. Rather, for those friends and those interested, he presents his view on why, after over a decade, working on WoW is no longer right for him. He himself plays and played WoW privately almost every day during this time. So it's hardly surprising that his "criticism" of WoW sounds exactly like what die-hard WoW players from the community keep saying.
In general, Kaleiki is unhappy with the direction WoW has taken. He first discovered how pronounced this feeling was with the release of the official WoW Classic servers. According to Kaleiki, the concept in WoW Classic is clear: the world is basically the main character, the players are the story, and the content is the community.
These three pillars still exist in modern WoW, but to a lesser degree. The concept of a guild hasn't been what it was for a long time. In the past, if you wanted to be successful in end-game content, you had to be in a guild. That may have felt a bit coercive, but it built communities, according to Kaleiki.
As a second example, Kaleiki cites WoW's story. Meanwhile, the story and main characters, with the dramas built around them, take up a lot of space in the story of Azeroth. According to Kaleiki, the focus should instead be more on the community and its dramas. The story itself, the cinematics, etc. are great, but the human element has been lost. In modern WoW, there is way too much focus on new features instead of expanding features like guilds. And that changes an MMO in the long run.
If you focus too much on new features per expansion, the vision of WoW itself gets lost. And it's not just the players who notice this, but also some of the developers themselves. According to Kaleiki, there are developers on the WoW team who still think WoW is following the vision of WoW Classic, while others believe strongly in the modern way (with more and more new features). Balancing these two views will be the biggest challenge for the WoW team going forward, according to Kaleiki.
What's next for Chris Kaleiki? The reason he joined Blizzard and started working on WoW was to pursue his dream of creating a virtual world. He wants to continue to pursue this goal. But he doesn't know yet to which developer Chris Kaleiki will go. When the time comes, however, he will share it with the world.
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