Blizzard Entertainment is acquiring Boston-based game studio Proletariat, which will work on World of Warcraft going forward to help satisfy gamers’ “voracious appetite” for new content. This comes at the same time that Blizzard is itself being acquired by Microsoft through maker Xbox’s $75 billion deal to buy Activision Blizzard.
As part of the deal, which was first revealed to VentureBeat, Proletariat will become a Blizzard studio, and its 100 developers will contribute to the continued development of WoW, including the Dragonflight expansion due out this year. Proletariat’s latest game, Spellbreak, is shutting down.
This is just the latest expansion for Blizzard, as veteran Activision studio Vicarious Visions was recently brought into Blizzard to help contribute to the Diablo franchise.
The terms of Blizzard’s deal for Proletariat weren’t disclosed, but it’s the company’s first big buyout since acquiring Swinging Ape in 2005.
John Hight, General Manager of World of Warcraft at Blizzard, said the deal to buy Proletariat will help Blizzard meet the demands of the WoW audience.
“As you probably know, World of Warcraft people have a voracious appetite for content,” Hight said. “And what we’ve seen over the last year is that we need to increase the amount of content we can create and how often we get it into the hands of our players.”
Hight said Proletariat was a good match for Blizzard because the team had experience with medieval fantasy and stylized art, which are common themes in WoW. Blizzard started talking to The Proletariat in December 2021, and the studio has been working with Blizzard since May of this year.
With its acquisition of Proletariat, Blizzard now has teams on both coasts of the United States, which could help with ambitions to create more content for WoW and release it faster. The Proletariat staff also includes people who worked on The Lord of the Rings Online and D&D Online. The studio itself was founded in 2012 by people who previously worked at Harmonix, Turbine and Insomniac.
Blizzard, and parent company Activision Blizzard, have recently made headlines over reports of gender discrimination and other issues. Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak said the team had a “very kind, open and transparent conversation” about the issues before agreeing to the buyout.
“In some of the early conversations, we discussed how they plan to continue to improve the culture and continue to create a great place to work for developers,” he said. “It was encouraging. Obviously there’s a lot of work to do to continue to create a great place to work for developers. But we were pretty happy and happy with where the teams are headed.”
To the surprise of some, WoW’s Dragonflight expansion is set to release this year. It’s set to bring big changes to WoW, including overhauls to the game’s class talents and professions systems alongside a new continent to explore. It will also include a new playable race, the Dracthyr, which – for the first time in MMO history – can only be one class, the new spellcasting-focused Invoker.
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