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'Diablo' Creators Leave 'Blizzard'

by Rainier on June 30, 2003 @ 3:32 p.m. PDT

The founders of the company that created popular computer game series "Diablo" have left their positions at a unit of game publisher Vivendi Universal Games, the company said in a statement on Monday. The high-profile departures come at a crucial time for Vivendi Universal Games, which is the object of a possible sale by French media conglomerate Vivendi Universal. Read more for details ...
In a statement, Blizzard Entertainment said Blizzard North co-founders Erich Schaefer, Max Schaefer and David Brevik, along with a fourth employee, Bill Roper, "resigned from the company to pursue other opportunities."

Blizzard Entertainment, publisher of "Diablo" and "Warcraft," is widely seen in the games industry as one of the most attractive assets of VU Games, which has been languishing on the auction block for months.

While a number of other game companies are known to have an interest in Blizzard as a stand-alone asset, Vivendi Universal has been trying to sell its games business as a complete entity as it looks to shed entertainment-related assets to pay down debt.

Blizzard said it did not expect the group's departures to have any effect on properties in development. The team that had been known as Condor joined Blizzard and became Blizzard North in February 1996.

Since then, the team has turned out two Diablo games, plus an expansion pack for the second title.

A spokeswoman for Blizzard was not immediately available to comment.

As the potential sale of VU Games has dragged on, top executives of the unit have acknowledged that shielding employees from the stress of uncertainty over the business's future has been difficult.

"It would not be true to deny it's affecting the staff," Luc Vanhal, the president of VU Games' North American operations, told Reuters last month.

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