Zarhym leaves World of Warcraft, Blizzard

Longtime World of Warcraft community manager Zarhym, also known as Jonathan Brown, has left Blizzard according to a message he’s left on Twitter.

We don’t have any more information on his departure at this time, but we all wish him the absolute best. He was a true class act and a stand up guy. In the meantime, we’ll be keeping up with his personal Twitter account and looking forward to seeing what he’s up to next — though even he doesn’t seem to know just yet.

Have you considered a beach vacation, Jonathan? We hear they’re a great way to unwind, the more drinks with tiny paper umbrellas the better — we’d be happy to buy the first round.

Filed Under: WoW, Zarhym

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muneravenmn 5pts

While I'm certain that some WoW developers are great at their jobs and cool people, it seemed clear to me that the loudest, pushiest, dumbest folks at Blizzard got WoD released.  I like to think that Zarhym let someone with power have it verbally.  I hope so because, frankly, speaking truth to terrible management is something you look back on fondly, even when it hurts your bank balance for awhile.

brix50 5pts

He forgot to bow when Metzen walked by, he's lucky he didn't lose his head.

johnmynard 5pts

Well, my take, after reading some responses below is as follows:

He's been there for, what, 6 years?  Fired or no, he'll probably take a week or two to clean up his resume and maybe drive down the coast and/or spend some much needed time with his significant other.  He's a catch for any CS department, gaming or otherwise, so I doubt he'll have much trouble getting a job.

vikkyne 5pts


I think it is for all these former CMs. Their future is blossoming, whereas the game's is entropic. Slow, but it's entropy. In a sense, they should all feel good. Roads to take...

Hamnurabi 5pts

He was a ten year+ employee.

grimmtooth404 5pts

This looks very very VERY familiar, I work at one of those companies that will out of the blue have a "RIF" ("Reduction in force") to balance the books at the end of a quarter. When it happens, it's sudden and with ZERO bearing on the experience or abilities of the person(s) being RIF'd. Although often time in service has bearing (get rid of the people that cost the company more in terms of vacation time, pay, etc due to their seniority),

This pattern is pretty typical of a company driven by bean counters and/or stock holders.

hilliard 5pts


"This pattern is pretty typical of a company driven by bean counters and/or stock holders."

AKA Activision, though they are hardly the only such example.

With all of the offerings even Blizzard has under their umbrella, someone like this guy could be shuffled around if WOW is not motivating the headcount anymore.  Perhaps something else happened.

grimmtooth404 5pts

@hilliard @grimmtooth404 "With all of the offerings even Blizzard has under their umbrella, someone like this guy could be shuffled around if WOW is not motivating the headcount anymore"

Well, have a look at news stories about Bobby Kotick and it gets pretty clear that people aren't on this man's priority list. It's a lot easier to kick someone out and hire a new person for other open reqs than it is to go through all the trouble of finding a new home for someone that will cost more to move than it would to hire a complete newb for that other spot. Things like experience, competency, and skillset do not figure on this particular scoresheet.

MoveWoW 5pts

Good bye and take care Mr. Floatie Skull that always seemed to be mocking me! :D

Oh, can I have your gold? lolololol

DonRobbie 5pts

I've been laid off with little/no notice before. It's a scary thing. Hope he can find something soon.

Bulliwyfthetank 5pts

@DonRobbie I don't think he was laid off - more than likely, a wonderful opportunity came up and he has taken it.

Eliza otQ
Eliza otQ 5pts

D'awww. I shall miss the floaty skull. Fare thee well, Zarhym!

GEPetersen 5pts

I kind of expected a clean sweep of the Old CMs after the communications woes of "Flying in Draenor". Before the new XPac comes out, you also would want a new style of messaging and communications between you and your customers. Although it feels a bit desperate, I understand the motivation.

hilliard 5pts

@Jaeken @GEPetersen 

Jaeken is right.  The poor flying communications came from senior developers, it was the CMs that papered things over and told the community to not give up hope on the finality of the decision.

MaryaleeScarlet 5pts

@GEPetersen Zarhym was not the source of the "woes." None of the CMs were. They were doing the best job they could at trying to control fires that were started above their heads. The trouble was strictly from the senior developers exhibiting sore lack of understanding in what players wanted and expected from the game they had been playing for 10+ years.

Sort of like the same lack of understanding they are exhibiting with Legion.

Jaeken 5pts

Except that's just shooting the messenger. It's not like these guys make decisions at a high level.

Philster 5pts

Stop making assumptions folks.

Best wishes JB.

Xivandre 5pts

I wouldn't go so far as to say he's "abandoning ship." Not the Blizzard ship, at least. Maybe the toxic community ship. You don't abandon a healthy ship. Some people may not like the direction developers have taken with one game but that doesn't mean that it isn't achieveing the company's goals. And WoW seems healthy at corporate level despite the sub losses. You can think otherwise if that makes you feel better.

The community, however, is not something he will miss. Maybe he didn't feel like a faceless angry mob was worth a farewell post. Even more, he understands that mob is a minority of players. Most don't and won't post.

Zarhym, while missed, is not someone who cannot be replaced. He was a community manager and I understand a new CM arrived to learn from him one month ago. Zarhym was not a programmer, nor a guy with key knowledge or power to influence the direction of the game. 

hilliard 5pts


How does WOW seem healthy and what exactly does "at corporate level" mean?

Blizzard itself seems to be doing fine, Activision always does fine, but WOW itself seems to be another matter.  

They're delivering another year full of nothing and they have even stopped reporting sub numbers, for god sake!  In what universe does that seem to be healthy at any level?

suntiger745 5pts

As I understand it WoW is making a steady profit even when looked at on its own, and not only when taken with Blizzard as a whole.

Yet because of the sub losses there's a perception that it isn't doing well, hence why they switched to not reporting subs anymore.

Well, one of the reasons anyway.

Aasiyah_ 5pts

Blizzards heart is with Overwatch and whatever other game they have in mind. If WoW didnt make so much money still they would shut it down to free up those devs to do new things.

DavidBaldock, oTQ (in spirit)
DavidBaldock, oTQ (in spirit) 5pts


That's what game companies do though.  When they have something profitable they keep it going.  When something isn't making them money they shut it down.  In fact, almost every business functions this way. 

I don't think it's fair to talk about a company having a "heart" for their product in that sense.  Individuals may get tired of certain projects, but as a company Blizzard is doing things pretty much the right way.  Don't put all your eggs in one basket, promote your new products strongly, trust your strengths and grow in your areas of weakness, etc.

Cuthbert Allbright
Cuthbert Allbright 5pts

@Beelgers @Aasiyah_ Let's face it, WoW is dead.

Until 10mil subscribers are playing Legion for a few months.

Blizzard already said (paraphrasing) "People pick up games, play through all the content fast as they can, put it down and play something else. It's not like old days where you play the same thing over and over or grind out whatever for hours every day. And we're okay with this."

I'm sure someone can find you the exact quote and I agreed. WoW is now a game where you pick it up when you can, play the content, put it down til next patch. It'll still be making money for years to come.

For me? I use it for social media. I still enjoy meeting new people, roleplaying, pvp, etc. I take small breaks but usually play 9/10 months out of the year.

Beelgers 5pts

@Aasiyah_ Maybe, maybe not, but it doesn't really matter. It's not like they're moving tons of people from WoW to Overwatch, cutting funding, etc. because they like it more. Just because they're trying to advertise their newest launch doesn't exactly mean they hate WoW and wish it were gone. That makes no sense. Especially with the movie coming out, the new novels, ...

hordeoralliancewtf 5pts

I wish him the best! I'll miss floaty skull on the forums, but I could see reasoning why he left. After doing the sort of job he did for as long as he did it, the man has the patience of a SAINT!

hordeoralliancewtf 5pts

@Beelgers @hordeoralliancewtf I've done customer service before. The amount of assholery, even when face-to-face with upset people, is astounding! It only gets worse when you can hide with the anonymity of the internet.

rjjagoda 5pts

Anyone else expect Neth to leave within 6-12 months?

Wirhl 5pts

was there even a forum post?  I don't see anything on blizz fourmns.  this is sad, and a bit odd the way it happened.  he was a good skull.

MbGaskins 5pts

Sorry to see him go. Really liked him.

Red. 5pts

Dang! First Bashiok, then Crithto, now Zarhym... the best CMs are all gone. =(

Ghostmourn 5pts

Damn ive seen thoes skulls more than a few times over the years!

Best wishes :D

aerix88 5pts

The header photo was my first glimpse of the real person behind Zarhym, and I fell in love. Such a great CM and personality to interact with on Twitter, he will certainly be missed. His personal Twitter account is usually pretty good too!

Mongoku 5pts

I'm sad to see him go. His avatar is one of the most recognized ones on the forums, and no one can deny it...

Now, it seems really odd his sudden departure... Trying not to start any assumptions, but something tells me something's wrong here... Maybe he got fired? IDK...

Anyway, I hope he finds sucess for the future! o/ 

DeletrixV 5pts

Excuse my typos there, whining ABOUT flight, and while i pay casually, I also PLAY casually!

JanInCognito 5pts

@Mongoku My take is, he's abandoning ship.

Let's face it, Blizz has been heading from disaster to disaster last 2 years.

With the disaster of the WoD release, with game unplayable for days, it got clear why Ghostcrawler left (as in 'what could have made him feel like leaving'). And it's been downhill ever since. Right now, WoW is the first-ever MMO with ...severely limited MMO functionality, apart from what players made and Blizzard begrudgingly adopted (premade finder, which essentially copies certain addon). For sure, it's a first-ever MMO where player activity is centered away from the eyes of other players (garrison). It took nearly a year for Blizzard to turn back from this disaster and finally give us Tanaan, but that got mismanaged too (it should have stayed flightless for everyone, or a transition solution, like those temporary northrend-stormpeaks mounts, should have been given - it's next to impossible to get much done there now if you're flightless and have nobody to ferry you on a passenger mount).

Perhaps he's just trying to get away before he has to spend sleepless days managing another disaster? After all, it's CMs that have to deal with infuriated customers, not C-suite wiseasses.

Unfortunately, the Bezos school of management hasn't yet reached Blizzard, they're still governed by brain-dead people who still believe 10Qs, 10Ks and investor satisfaction make or break companies, while customers need merely to be "managed". If this continues, Blizzard will collapse, because sooner or later someone WILL make that "wow killer" game. As it is, it's only a matter of time.

Dragaur 5pts

@JanInCognito @Mongoku A whole lot of speculation and doom saying in the above post. I consider myself to be some what of a pessimist/conspiracy theorist but you got the market cornered.

Almost everything you're saying has been said before about many other decisions that Blizzard has made. What LFG auto matches you! DOOM! What's this heroics are easier in Lich King! DOOM! Harder in Cata! DOOM! They added flying! DOOM! Took away flying! DOOM!


Literally every triple A MMO for the past decade was made and rumored to rival wow and while some have had great success none have come close to the amount of success WoW has had even at its lowest population. Will an MMO surpass WoW one day? Sure one could as long as life as we know it progresses the way it has been.

DeletrixV 5pts

The whining flight is silly. I pay casually and never raid, but managed to get fought in under 2 weeks. If it bothers you, stop acting like being flightless happened to you as if you are powerless to change your status.

Beelgers 5pts

@Mongoku Aye, hate to speculate, but it does sound like he was let go or left suddenly without lining something up first. It doesn't have to be something like that though. Could be something in personal life pulled him away which rightfully being kept non-public.

Beelgers 5pts

@JanInCognito @Mongoku I don't agree they're heading between disasters. Besides, like @Platetits says above, you generally just don't just leave. 

Blizzard won't "collape". Activision-Blizzard is very healthy. Also, people have been screaming "wow killer" for years. It's never happened obviously. I don't think that's ever going to happen with such a limited amount of MMO space these days.


JanInCognito 5pts

@hilliard @JanInCognito @Mongoku That's conventional wisdom of normal people. Zarhym was anything BUT that. Also, he worked there for what, a decade?

I understand most of you wouldn't know it, but there's perks that come with a very long tenure in a media-prominent corporate position.

One day, you look at your credit limit, at the balance of your bank account, and realize that if you just dropped everything, walked out of the office AND your life and went to trek for a year around the world, YOU CAN ACTUALLY afford it. And if you're single, like many of us corporates are, you can double the time and STILL have resources to set yourself up anew when you return, by simply selling your house and dropping off mortgage if you even have any... that is, unless you cant be bothered to profitably place it on the rental market.

If that happens when the company you've devoted so many years to is making decisions that you do not wholly support or agree with, then you get a temptation to just get up and quit. Tell the jerk he's a jerk, and then leave. And this is compounded even further when you're someone as competent as Zarhym is - you see, people with that much talent seldom go untapped for long, and they have extensive networks. I think he's in the decompression phase now - sleeping in, letting tension go... once he's ready, I bet he'll get snapped up by someone. No lifeboats necessary.

CodyIsken 5pts

Ghostcrawler, Bashiok, a few other I forget and now Zarhym. Seems all the long time Blizzard employees are leaving left and right. Who's next, Chris Metzen? (god no)

Awelonian 5pts

Sad news, but everyone has to ascend. He has become one of them, ascended.