Blizzard isn't what it used to be—this had already become a common sentiment well in advance of what many found to be an all-around poor handling of Hearthstone pro Blitzchung's ban from competitive play. In a new interview with PC Gamer, the founders of Blizzard North and creators of Diablo, David Brevik, Erich Schaefer, and Max Schaefer, essentially all agreed that Blizzard has changed, and attributed it to an inevitability of growing into a significantly larger company.
The three ex-Blizzard North founders shared their opinion on the changes at Blizzard when asked if it had felt like Blizzard had sort of changed. Brevik then replied that the company has "completely" changed, noting that present day Blizzard only retains two of its original developers (senior vice president Allen Adham and senior art director Samwise Didier) and has grown overall from about 180 employees to thousands.
However, when asked about the Blitzchung controversy, Brevik and Max Schaefer expressed some sympathy for, or at the very least understanding of, the tough situation in which Blizzard found itself. While Max Schaefer fully acknowledged that Blizzard mishandled the situation, he found the theory that the company was acting under direction of their Chinese business partners likely to be more conspiracy than fact. Rather than interfacing directly with, say, Chinese publisher NetEase, he believes that Blizzard was simply thinking ahead to the impact not punishing Bliztchung would have had on profits. Plus, no punishment whatsoever would have brought with it an entirely other set of controversies (not that that justifies the actions Blizzard ultimately took.)
That said, Erich Schaefer did note one major difference between the Blizzard of old and today: there used to be no discussions of shareholders' interests during the game development process. While the development of Diablo 2 did involve inter-company debate over the game's dark and Satanic aesthetic, it was purely in service of giving fans what they wanted, and not ensuring that shareholders investments would be protected.
Brevik, Schaefer and Schaefer left Blizzard in part because the creative freedom they desired would have been unsustainable as the company grew larger. However, that growth, Brevik explained, is part of the natural process of companies growing and expanding and happens all the time, for better or for worse.
Source: PC Gamer