If the measure of a developer's success was the amount of time people have spent with their faces buried in their games, few studios would stack up to Blizzard
Over the last few years men, women and teens of all walks of life have spent countless hours adventuring in World of Warcraft. While the all-conquering MMO might be the California based studio's biggest money maker, its back catalogue of titles is brimming with games of unequaled calibre.
Whether its the long-forgotten SNES adventure The Lost Vikings, demonic dungeon-crawling RPG Diablo, or the sequel to real-time strategy sensation StarCraft, Blizzard has always been been driven by unwavering focus on creating high-quality games.
Unsurprisingly then, it is considered by many millions as the best developer in the world.
Founded as Silicon & Synapse, Blizzard (as it is known now) lists eight key principles in its mission statement: Gameplay first, commit to quality, play nice; play fair, embrace your inner geek, every voice matters, think globally, lead responsibly, learn and grow.
Those familiar with the company and its games will no doubt attest that these eight principles permeate how it creates games, the way it interacts with its audience, the way it conducts its business and everything in between.
Founded: February 8, 1991
Location: Irvine, California, USA[
Killer quote: "Everyone here is a geek at heart. Cutting-edge technology, comic books, science fiction, top-end video cards, action figures with the kung-fu grip.... Whatever it is they're passionate about, it matters that each employee embraces it! Their unique enthusiasm helps to shape the fun, creative culture that is Blizzard Entertainment."
As well as co-founding the venerable studio Mike Morhaim also serves as president of Blizzard. He's also one of three designers or producers to be given the Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards at the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Interactive Achievement Awards. An accolade he shares with Stormfront Studios' Don Daglow of and id Software legend John Carmack.
Morhaime has overseen the creation of every Blizzard game since the studio was formed, but has said that his favourite Blizzard title is StarCraft.
He is also credited with writing the introduction to the StarCraft Archive, which collects the StarCraft novels Uprising, Liberty's Crusade, Shadow of the Xel'Naga and Speed of Darkness.
When not serving as overlord of Blizzard Morhaim is partial to playing a bit professional plays poker. He faced off against BioWare co-founder Ray Muzyka in DICE's Celebrity Poker Tournament and walked away with the 2nd place title.
Named as one of Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world in 2006, Rob Pardo is Blizzard's vice president of game design. Pardo joined Blizzard when the development of StarCraft was in its infancy and was put to work on the balancing the game.
Since then he has gone on to lead the design StarCraft: Brood War, two Warcraft 3 expansions as well as World of Warcraft, Burning Crusade and Lich King. He is also credited as the designer of Diablo 2, WarCraft 2 and as producer of Midway's Mortal Kombat Trilogy.
Better known as Samwise, Didier is Blizzard's go to artist and the man behind the unique, iconic visual style of Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo. He currently serves as senior art director for StarCraft 2.
As well as lending his artistic stylings to Blizzard Didier creates album covers for Swedish power metal band HammerFall.