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Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham returns after 12 year absence

Adham was the original lead designer on WoW, but left the company before it launched

One of Blizzard's three original founders has returned to the company more than 12 years after he chose to step away. Allen Adham, who was the original design lead on World of Warcraft, will take the newly created role of executive producer of incubation.

Adham founded Blizzard with Mike Morhaime and Frank Pearce, but he is credited as the true founder of the company due to his role in bringing the trio together. According to a report from Polygon, Adham approached Morhaime and Pearce while they were on the UCLA computer science program together, with the goal of doing "something fun and different." The company they started was originally called Silicon & Synapse, but the name was changed to Blizzard Entertainment as it started to gather momentum.

"Allen is the genesis of Blizzard," Morhaime said. "He's the one who recruited Frank and I to even think about doing any of this."

Adham started work on World of Warcraft in 2000, be he chose to leave the company in January 2004 to avoid the game's looming crunch period and concentrate on family life. Professionally, he started a hedge fund based on quantitative analysis, but he now acknowledges that "leaving Blizzard was probably the biggest mistake I made in my life. What I should have done was just take a sabbatical. I've been eager to come back for a decade now."

Morhaime and Pearce were evidently delighted to welcome Adham back, installing him as executive producer of incubation.

"We are so spread thin in terms of resources to achieve even the current initiatives that we're trying to pursue," Pearce said. "It's very difficult for us to kick off and start new ideas and new projects. I don't think we'd be able to find someone to focus on incubating new ideas that we just hired off the street, that hadn't worked here before. To be able to bring in someone that we trusted, that had a passion for exploring new ideas - it was a really good opportunity for us."

In the time since Adham left Blizzard, the company has grown from 400 employees to more than 4,000.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.