Blizzard co-founder Frank Pearce has announced he’ll be leaving the venerated PC-focused games developer after 28 years, He’s the second of the original trio to leave within the past 12 months after Mike Morhaime’s departure in October 2018.

Pearce was there for the creation of the Diablo, Warcraft and Starcraft series, building Blizzard from a tiny port studio known as Silicon & Synapse up to the giant it is today. 

“My time at Blizzard encompasses the entirety of both my professional career and my adult life,” wrote Pearce in a retirement message on Blizzard’s official site. “I have countless fond memories. Working with the best developers in the world on the best franchises in the world definitively stands out.

“Even more prominent are my memories of our first BlizzCon where I realized the special importance of the people and communities that had become part of the experience for our players.

“Words cannot express the gratitude I feel to have been involved with Blizzard, our games, our employees, and most importantly our community. Before Blizzard I struggled to find a place in which I felt I belonged. Now I know I will always have a place, as will many other people. Thank you to all of you for providing me the sense of inclusion I require as a person.”

Following Mike Morhaime’s departure last year, Chris Metzen two years before, and Frank Pearce now, Allen Adham is the last of the original Blizzard crew still holding firm. For all intents and purposes, Jeff Kaplan is now the de facto face of Blizzard, and at least he still looks as if he’s got a firm grip on the world of Overwatch.

Still, I can’t help but think Blizzard truly is becoming a shadow of the great developer it once was. The talent bleed has been a little excruciating to watch and, while there will no doubt be hundreds of immensely talented developers still working within its walls, many of the guiding hands have now upped sticks and left. There’s a feeling that Activision has a greater stranglehold over Blizzard than ever before and is steadily choking the life out of it. 

Hopefully, this is a heck of a long way from what’s happening at Blizzard these days but Destiny developer Bungie is an ample demonstration of the over-zealous control which a publisher such as Activision can have. Bungie severed the relationship seemingly as fast as it could manage.