Blizzard founder Mike Morhaime launches new gaming activity in Dreamhaven


Mike Morhaimefounder Blizzard Entertainment, founded a new gaming company called Dreamhaven, and she founded two new game studios, Moonshot and Secret Door.

California-based Irvine is a pretty good idea that Morheim and his wife, Amy Morheim, weren’t completely happy with the games when they left Activision Blizzard 2018

Morheim will be the CEO of Dreamhaven, and Amy Morheim will lead operations. They have hired several (mostly former Blizzard) industry seniors to help manage their studios, which will work on individual games. This is an ambitious starter as there is little to work on two games at once. But this is not without precedent, as Harold Ryan’s “Probably Monsters” the starter in Seattle also has two studios working simultaneously on two games. The Morheim company is so far unique in that they finance it themselves.

The Dreamhaven team’s common goal was to give developers more opportunities, help implement their ideas, and create original gaming experiences that foster meaningful connections between players. In an interview with GamesBeat in Morheim, he and his wife are self-financing the company because it is important to control the company’s fate at an early stage.

Released Blizzard is 27 years old to one of the largest gaming industry companies with more than 4,000 employees in Activision Blizzard’s Blizzard division, Morheim finally left in 2018. end.

Above: Mike Morhaime is the CEO of Dreamhaven.

Video credit: DreamHaven

“My wife Amy and I worked for Blizzard and left in late 2018,” Morheim said. “It simply came to our notice then. What I was going to disconnect from the network and spend a lot of time traveling. We actually went to the HomeStory Cup in Germany for their StarCraft II tournament. We took our daughter. “

They wanted to talk to a lot of people about what to do next and didn’t know if they wanted to stay in the game or not. They started with a blank sheet of paper. They later encountered Jason Chayes, Hearthstone’s executive producer, and a group of former Blizzard people who set up their studio. They came together to try to create “something really special,” Morheim said.


Top: Dreamhaven aims to become a beacon for the gaming industry.

Video credit: DreamHaven

To date, the company has 27 employees in all three companies and it hires more employees. The artwork on the company’s home page combines aspects of both fantasy and science fiction, but the company doesn’t yet specify what games it does and doesn’t talk about genres. However, he works according to a well-known model, as he is very similar to how Blizzard handled things in Morheim, emphasizing quality, iteration and giving creative workers enough time.

“We’re almost trying to shelter developers who want a development-friendly environment that values ​​products and player experiences through short-term financial pressures,” Morheim said. “We believe in the power of games to bring people together and escape the unpleasant things that reality can bring. In this sense, it is also a refuge. We love the images of the lighthouse as a lighthouse, and that inspires us because we hope Dreamhaven can be a beacon of hope for other industry members who share our values ​​and philosophy. There is a better way to build a business and games that can work and be sustainable, be very fun and yield positive results. “

The role of the parent company is to provide advice and funding, as well as the central services that will be needed for each study, from communication to human resources. But each studio will make its own decisions on how to make the best games, Morheim said. The founders have equity in the parent company.

“They can create games that excite them,” Morheim said. “They control their own destiny and hopefully feel they have the best of both worlds: an entrepreneurial spirit, stability and resources that only larger companies can often provide.”

Moon shot

Above: Moonshot is one of Dreamhaven’s studios

Video credit: DreamHaven

Moonshot is led by Jason Chayes, Dustin Browder and Ben Thompson. Previously, Chayes was an executive producer at Blizzard Entertainment, where he led the Hearthstone team. He has also worked for Electronic Arts and Disney.

Browder’s 25-year career includes playing as a game director in StarCraft II, Storm Heroes, Command & Conquer and The Lord of the Rings. Thompson’s credits include Hearthstone’s creative director, World of Warcraft’s trading card game artistic director, and additional Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering credits. Moonshot is also home to a team of experienced developers who have worked together on the most popular gaming franchises.

Chayes left Blizzard about a year ago after spending 11 years there.

“I was working on a project there with a team that, as sometimes happens, didn’t move forward in the end,” he said in an interview. “It gave me a chance to take a step back and I finally took the time to think about what I wanted to do next.”

Above: Jason Chayes is Moonshot leader Dreamhaven.

Video credit: DreamHaven

He said the start-up idea was passed on to him. Another teammate, Browder, also decided to step down. So they started discussing the studio while Chayes had dinner with Morheim. They talked about joining forces.

“I just have a lot of respect for Mike as a values-led leader, a man who really had a lot of courage to accompany his beliefs,” Chayes said. “So the idea of ​​working with him and knocking it out was the best of the possible worlds.”

The team is a little bigger than Secret Door, but has no plans to grow to a huge number.

“There’s something a little magical when we’re big enough to put everyone in a room at once and really talk about what we’re trying to do,” Chayes said.

Secret doors

Above: The Secret Door is a Dreamhaven studio.

Video credit: DreamHaven

The second Dreamhaven game studio, Secret Door, is run by Chris Sigaty, Alan Dabiri and Eric Dodds. Sigaty’s role was executive producer of Hearthstone, StarCraft II and Heroes of the Storm, as well as a major producer of Warcraft III. Dodds was the original game director for Hearthstone and a veteran game designer for World of Warcraft and StarCraft. Dabiri has served as technical director and game director, and has worked on Warcraft III, StarCraft II, and Storm Heroes.

Sigaty has been a Blizzard for nearly 24 years, working closely with Chayes on games such as StarCraft II: Wings of Freedom. He left Blizzard in 2019. In the end and had to make a connection with the family. He also spoke with Morheim and Chayes.

“I was familiar with Mike’s values,” Sigaty said. “In 24 years, the things that turned out to me were moments when we were working on projects, and it was unclear whether we needed to move forward and just extract something, or put the date back and achieve greatness. Mike led the difficult decisions to the point where he devoted enough time to greatness to form and achieve the quality it needed. “

As I wrote in my story about 25th anniversary of Blizzard, Morheim and co – founders Allen Adham and Frank Pearce have focused on quality from the start of the company. In their first game, they decided to take feedback from publisher Briano Fargo and fundamentally remake their game.

Such a meticulous commitment to quality has been a core value of Blizzard for decades, Morheim told me previous interview. There are now about eight people in the secret door. The team wants to stay small but has enough people to do the job, Sigaty said.

Games on the go

Above: Amy Morheim leads Dreamhaven Operations.

Video credit: DreamHaven

Morheim said the parent company will opportunistically decide how many studios it will set up and how many people will be in each studio. He hopes to receive more funds in the future.

“We’re in no hurry to get out and get funding, because the most important thing is to ensure that we keep control of the company’s decision-making,” Morheim said. “When we go and look for investment, we want to be aligned with vision and values.”

However, it is planned to combine a common vision of different projects and make decisions accordingly. The studios have not yet removed any gaming platforms and have not done any.

“It is important to create an environment that can foster creativity and innovation in a sustainable way and unleash the potential of these talented teams,” Morheim said. “We felt we could do it. Talking to Jason and some other people, we felt that this window of opportunity had emerged, which we had to do now. “

Don’t expect to hear about game announcements soon as it’s early. But the company wants to keep in close touch with players, as Blizzard did.

Eventually, the company will have an office in Orange County, California, but that depends on the nature of the pandemic in the future.

An unfinished business

Top: Chris Sigaty is Secret Door leader Dreamhaven.

Video credit: DreamHaven

The company’s executives loved the time at Blizzard, but they don’t talk much about the exact reasons for leaving. Asked if he had any unfinished business, everyone agreed.

“I think it was probably hard for all of us to get out in different ways,” Morheim said. “I’ve been there for almost 28 years and much of my identity has really been shrouded in Blizzard. It took me quite a while to separate from that. But we also love games. We love the community and believe it’s a great opportunity to use technology, entertainment and games to bring people together in a new way. ”

He added: “Especially with a pandemic. People have been so separated from each other for so long. It highlighted how powerful the game is as a way for people to connect. So I feel we have more and something to say. “

Sigaty said he could relate to that.

“It’s similar to what Mike said. All I knew during my career was Blizzard, ”said Sigaty. “I was so lucky to be involved in what happened there. But is it a flash? I refuse to believe that. These are the things that happen in your mind. Who am I now? That’s part of what made me decide to do it. “

Chayes said: “I spent a tremendous amount of time at Blizzard and a lot of friends who are still there. But are there unfinished business? We would like to do more things. There are more storytelling stories, more games created, and the need to figure out what developers and publishers look like in the future. It’s an opportunity to start a business. “

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