The Escapist has published a new article gathering the history of Blizzard Entertainment since its early beginnings as Silicon & Synapse, its former name back in 1991. The story of Battle.net and how Warcraft: Orcs and Humans was born, inspired in the RTS game Dune II. Good read for inquiring minds that haven’t read similar articles.
How the West Was Won
Officially founded in 1991 as Silicon & Synapse, Blizzard Entertainment had been making their bones producing console titles and second-rate DOS games like Battle Chess II (1990) and The Death and Return of Superman (1994). As with any business, their goal in the first few years was to simply survive. Condor Software co-founder Dave Brevik explains early corporate life by saying “console games were paying the bills.”
He would know – Condor was doing the same. Founded by Brevik in 1993 with Max and Erich Schaefer, Condor had been making ends meet by developing low-budget console titles. Then, they got a call from publisher Sunsoft to develop a comic book franchise title for the Sega Genesis.
Dave Brevik tells the story: “We were developing a fighting game (like Street Fighter) using [DC’s] Justice League characters … [Part-way] through development, we got approval to show the game off at CES. This was before E3 existed.”
What the designers at Condor didn’t know, however, was that another company, over 300 miles away, was developing the exact same game for a competing console. The two development teams met for the first time at the Consumer Electronics Show.
“Much to our surprise,” says Brevik, “[Blizzard] was making the same game for the Super Nintendo system. We had never talked or shared any assets or ideas, and it was supposed to be the same game! Anyhow this leads me to talking to Allen Adham, who was their President.”
It would be a fateful chance encounter for both men and their studios. In addition to the SNES version of Justice League, Blizzard’s Adham was working on the first installment of what would soon become one of the best-selling videogame franchises of all time. Adham showed his new game to Brevik behind closed doors. That game was Warcraft: Orcs and Humans.