After resigning from the position of CEO of Blizzard in 2018, Mike Morhaime finally has a new project that will really attract the attention of the gaming industry. On 23 September 2020, the Blizzard founder introduced Dreamhaven, a new video game company he and his wife co-founded, this time independently and without outside interference.
This point about independence is especially important when looking at Blizzard’s history. Maybe not many know, but Mike Morhaime has actually sold Blizzard since 1994 for $ 6.75 million. Back then, the company didn’t even use the name Blizzard, and Warcraft didn’t even exist yet.
As a result, it can be said that Mike Morhaime and his team do not have ownership rights at all of Blizzard’s most successful franchises such as Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, or Overwatch. Through Dreamhaven, Mike does not seem willing to repeat his mistakes with Blizzard, although in the future he will still consider opportunities to work with interested investors.
Interestingly enough, Dreamhaven was introduced to the public with two separate studios under its auspices: Moonshot Games and Secret Door. Both of them are driven by Blizzard alumni with long experience in the gaming industry. So far, of the 27 total Dreamhaven employees, only one has never felt working at Blizzard before.
According to a Washington Post report that interviewed Mike Morhaime in person, Moonshot Games will focus on larger-scale projects, while Secret Door will explore “a more intimate concept” – is it a mobile game? Although there are no specific game titles currently being worked on by the two studios, it is likely that the first game Dreamhaven will publish will be a multiplayer game.
If you look at Blizzard’s history of success with the multiplayer game category, this prediction shouldn’t sound too surprising. Furthermore, multiplayer games certainly also have the potential to have their own esports ecosystem, and I’m not surprised if esports will be one of the areas that Dreamhaven is eyeing, especially when considering the old position of Mike’s wife, Amy Morhaime, as head of Blizzard’s esports division.
As we know, esports is a land of money, and creating at least one game with a successful esports ecosystem will have a positive impact on Dreamhaven’s long-term financial condition. The hope, of course, is that they can continue to work in accordance with their ideals, and this time without being hindered by money matters such as what happened to Blizzard more than two decades ago.
Control, that’s the buzzword I want to associate with Dreamhaven. If Blizzard used to be able to create a series of quality games under corporate control – which of course is more focused on the business aspect than idealism – now imagine what it would be like if the same people behind these amazing games could work without anyone who too restricting their movements.
When Dreamhaven will release its first game is still a big question mark. The two studios under him are still actively recruiting additional staff, and Mike Morhaime himself is known to always direct his team so as not to rush into a game.
Not everyone can start a new company that is engaged in video game publishing and has two internal studios at once. The fact that Blizzard veterans are now gathered together to work on the game with their own capital, in my opinion, is enough reason to wait for Dreamhaven’s work.
Negative sentiment towards game developers who are under the control of giant companies has recently returned to the fore after Microsoft acquired ZeniMax Media and all of its subsidiaries. Dreamhaven, which takes an independent path, will probably further strengthen this sentiment, although I am sure that Mike Morhaime et al have no intention of that.
The funny thing is, based on Mike Morhaime’s own admission, Blizzard was almost acquired by Microsoft between 2003 – 2004, precisely when Blizzard was still working on World of Warcraft. At that time, Blizzard’s status was still a subsidiary of Vivendi Games, and Vivendi intended to sell Blizzard for $ 700 million. Microsoft discouraged because this figure was considered too expensive, and I’m sure Microsoft now must be very sorry.