A fan asked what impact Jay’s departure would have on the continuing development (improvement) of D3, and got a reassuring reply from Lylirra.
Jay Wilson: “The first thing I want to assure you all is that this will not negatively impact our ongoing support of Diablo III. The game was not made by one person, far from it, and the team that poured their passion and considerable talent into it isn’t going anywhere. We have lots of things planned for the future, and those plans will carry forward as normal. I also won’t be abandoning the team, and will remain available to them during the transition period while we determine who will take over duties as game director.”
The team structure isn’t changing, and we’ll be moving forward with development per usual. Jay will also be transitioning out of his role (not outright leaving), which means he’ll still be a resource until a new Game Director is found and had the chance to acclimate.
Unlike he D2 devs before him, I can’t say that I knew Jay Wilson. I interviewed him on the phone one time and met him face to face for about three seconds at a Blizzcon, but that was all business. So, like you guys, my knowledge of him came from his many, many interviews and other D3 newsworthy actions (he’s category tagged in 192 of our news posts) and I thought he generally did a good job in those.
It’s odd judging video game developers in interviews. We want them to be forthcoming and articulate and share good (new) info, but we don’t want them to be *too* slick and polished, since then they just feel like PR spokesmodels. I suppose a truly slick guy would learn to fake realism, but Jay’s interviews and conversations and opinions seemed real. He had to toe the Blizzard PR line most of the time, but he did a good job presenting new info at Blizzcon and other shows, and he seemed genuinely to want to share new info with the fans whenever he could (even when that backfired on him).
He gave some good interviews as well, especially when he wasn’t being badgered for new game info. See this one with AusGamers, conducted shortly before D3’s launch, for some long and thoughtful replies from a smiling and confident Jay, looking rested and relaxed after his post-crunch vacation, all ready for D3 to go live. (Pride goeth before a fall?)As for the larger question about D3’s direction post-Jay… who knows? Seriously, who knows? I’ve had several people ask me what I think Jay’s departure from D3 will mean for the game, and I don’t really have an opinion. None of us outside of Blizzard have any real idea how the internal politics and power structure work, either within the D3 team or within the company at large.
There were dozens (hundreds) of people working on D3 and contributing ideas to it, and we have zero idea how many of those Jay agreed or disagreed with. He might have been the main voice behind some of the worst decisions in the game, or the sole defender fighting to retain some of the best features. (Or both. Or neither.) None of us know exactly what anyone did during D3’s development, which decisions were Jay’s etc. Thus there’s no way to know if D3 will be better, worse, or unchanged by a new Game Director.
Strictly from a PR perspective, this change probably benefits Blizzard’s PR. No one’s going to boycott D3 over Jay moving on, while plenty of the haters will rejoice. Jay was the public face of D3, and rightly or wrongly he was blamed for everything by players who aren’t happy with all or some of the game. The game’s been improving dramatically in recent patches, and while we don’t know how much of those were driven by Jay, it seems likely the current direction will continue, no matter whose name is atop the pyramid. And yes, vote coming soon to measure the fan consensus on Jay’s departure.