The two main development studios at Vivendi Universal Games-owned World Of WarCraft creator Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard North and Blizzard South, are to be merged in order to unify the company's PC development under one roof at the company's Southern California headquarters, according to an official statement by the company.
Blizzard South, located in Irvine in Southern California and now the surviving office, has been the home of StarCraft and WarCraft development, including the World of WarCraft MMORPG. Blizzard North, located in San Mateo, California, just South of San Francisco, has historically housed the development teams that have worked on Diablo and Diablo II.
Since the completion of the Diablo II expansion pack, the Blizzard North team has been working on an unrevealed title, but the legacy studio management has been depleted somewhat, most notably by Diablo producer Bill Roper's departure in 2003 to found Flagship Studios with a number of other senior Blizzard figures - Flagship is currently working on Hellgate: London for Namco.
Blizzard stated that "a majority of the staff from Blizzard's Northern California office" will be given the chance to relocate to the Irvine, CA office to continue work on an unannounced game, perhaps indicating that there will be a minority of unspecified layoffs related to the move.
"We're looking forward to having our PC development teams together in Irvine," said Mike Morhaime, Blizzard president and co-founder. "In addition to improving our efficiency as a company, the relocation also represents an opportunity for all of our teams to have regular, direct input on each other's projects." One of Blizzard North's last projects, a version 1.11 patch for 2000's Diablo II, has also been released today.
The third division of Blizzard, the recently-acquired Swingin' Ape Studios -- now renamed to Blizzard Console, and in the midst of developing StarCraft: Ghost -- will be unaffected by the integration and remain in operation at its southern California offices.