Morhaime at BlizzCon 2007
|Born||November 3, 1967|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles (BE)|
|Known for||Co-founding Blizzard Entertainment|
|Awards||AIAS Hall of Fame Award (2001)|
Michael "Mike" Morhaime (born November 3, 1967) is a co-founder and the former president of Blizzard Entertainment (founded in 1991 as Silicon & Synapse), a video game developer located in Irvine, California, owned by Activision Blizzard. Morhaime served as President of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, Inc. He served on the Vivendi Games executive committee since January 1999, when Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. became a subsidiary of Vivendi Games. He graduated from Granada Hills High School in 1985. He is also an alumnus of Triangle Fraternity and received his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering in 1990 from UCLA. He is a member of ETC, a metal band formed of and by Blizzard Employees, where he plays bass guitar.
In sixth grade, Morhaime, along with his brother and sister, purchased a video game console called the Bally Professional Arcade, first released in 1978. Morhaime discovered that the console was programmable and he figured out how to write simple games on it, building off of example programming code he found in a gaming newsletter. As an electrical engineering student at UCLA, Morhaime focused more on hardware than on software. "I procrastinated a lot," he admitted. Things changed after he got an internship at a San Jose microchip company. In his internship, he learned about circuit design, and when he returned to school he was ahead of his computer architecture class. "I used to be the guy that sat in the back," he said. But after his stint in Silicon Valley, he said, "I started sitting up front." It was in that time period that Morhaime met the two other people with whom he would create Silicon & Synapse, the company that would be renamed later as Blizzard. The initial founders - Morhaime, Allen Adham and Frank Pearce - rented a small office in Irvine, California, where the proximity to other companies was hoped to be advantageous to them.
In 1995, Blizzard released Warcraft II, its first number one selling game. "It's probably the game that put Blizzard on the map," Morhaime said. Besides its large number of sales, "it was the first game you could play over the Internet with a good experience", which was a novelty at the time, as well as being a defining selling point for its later titles. Blizzard's greatest success came with a hard but not unwelcome lesson. In planning for the release of World of Warcraft (WoW) in late 2004, Morhaime thought that the market for the much larger and more interactive new game -the first in their history to require players to pay a monthly subscription fee- would grow slowly and would be an unpopular surprise to the gaming community. "We felt it was very likely the fee would be a deterrent for people, and that WoW would not sell as quickly as some of our previous games," he said. All of Blizzard's production and marketing decisions were based on that assumption. To Blizzard's surprise (and very shortly later, terror) WoW sold extremely quickly, leaving the underprepared Blizzard unable to keep merchants supplied with the game for a short time. "For the whole first year, we scrambled to keep up with demand," he said. "It probably took years off of our lives." World of Warcraft had approximately 11 million subscribers as of 2010.
On October 3, 2018, Morhaime announced he was stepping down as the company president and CEO, but will still remain an advisor to the company. Morhaime was replaced by J. Allen Brack, the executive producer on World of Warcraft. His advisory role concluded on April 7, 2019.
Honors and awards
In 2008, Morhaime was honored at the 59th Annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards for Blizzard’s creation of World of Warcraft. Along with Don Daglow of Stormfront Studios and John Carmack of id Software, Morhaime is one of only three designers or producers to accept awards at the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards and at the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Interactive Achievement Awards. Morhaime received the national Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the Technology category in 2012. In 2015 Morhaime received the IGDA (International Game Developers Association) Game Innovation Spotlight Award. Morhaime plays poker and reached second place in edition 2006 of DICE's Celebrity Poker Tournament. In the last round, he faced Scott Fischman and Perry Friedman (World Series of Poker professionals), and Ray Muzyka, co-founder and CEO of video game developer BioWare. After a 45-minute game, Muzyka won, and Morhaime placed second overall in the tournament. In 2008, Morhaime was inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences' Hall of Fame.
In 2012, Morhaime made a cameo appearance on The Guild, a web series about the lives of a gamers' online experiences with an MMORPG that draws references to World of Warcraft. He is known for his work with the gaming community, but also worked on Warcraft: The Beginning,
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