Blizzard Lays Off Composer Who Created Iconic World of Warcraft Music

The job of Russell Brower has been phased out, but the creator of themes for WoW, Diablo 3, StarCraft 2, Overwatch and Hearthstone could continue as a contractor.

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Music is usually an underappreciated aspect of games, sitting in the background to give ambiance to your play. But in some cases, great music can enhance it immeasurably. Blizzard has had some iconic themes in its games, from World of Warcraft to Diablo 3, StarCraft 2 to Overwatch. Unfortunately, the composer of much of that music is now out of a job.

Russell Brower, Blizzard's senior audio director and composer, has been laid off because of changes to the inner workings of the sound and music divisions within the company. "I’m extremely proud of the amazingly talented team I helped build and the creative output we’ve accomplished together over these past 12 years," Brower wrote in a post on Facebook. "As the company has grown, the topography of the Sound team has adjusted accordingly, and the last couple of years have been no exception. With the success of a 'sound de-centralization' initiative, my current position of overall Sr. Audio Director/Composer is no longer relevant and is being eliminated."

Brower said that there is a chance he will continue as a freelance composer with Blizzard on future projects, and more will be known in the future. But for now, he is working to finish up a solo album that should be completed soon.

"I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to EVERYONE reading this: all of our Players, Music Lovers, and the countless new friends I’ve made worldwide, for the incredible and indelible life experiences I have enjoyed while at Blizzard," he continued. "Especially the Players - each of you have truly enriched our lives by playing our games, meeting us at #BlizzCon and #Nerdtacular, attending our music concerts the world over, enjoying our soundtrack albums and sheet music - the list goes on and on. We have so much to be proud of and I am truly grateful to each of you and to all my Blizzard colleagues for putting up with me over the last 12 years and teaching me so much."

if you can't recall any of Brower's music, World of Warcraft players will recognize the "Invincible" theme from Wrath of the Lich King. It was given special mention as being "imbued with emotion and portent" when his WoW soundtrack was inducted in the Classic FM Hall of Fame in 2014. Video Games Live played the track in 2013, with Brower directing the orchestra.  

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    July 25, 2017 10:55 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Blizzard Lays Off Composer Who Created Iconic World of Warcraft Music

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 12:27 PM

      GGClose. I think the reason Blizzard sound was so good was probably because they had a central senior sound dude. Decentralizing sounds like a move to be more like normal devs/publishers, with less overall quality control and less of that Blizzard editorial control.

      PS please remember that this is a statement of my opinion, on the internet.

    • Zek
      reply
      July 25, 2017 12:44 PM

      I can understand if decentralizing makes more sense for them, but really weird that they would lay off a big name composer as a result of that. Why not just let him be a flex resource between multiple games? Maybe he felt it was a demotion or really disagreed with the direction.

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 1:20 PM

      I always turned off the music in WOW.

      • reply
        July 25, 2017 1:39 PM

        and now you got the man fired

      • reply
        July 25, 2017 1:39 PM

        I wouldn't have enjoyed The Burning Crusade as much without the music. Such good atmospheric tracks in there, and the first new Matt Uelmen works at Blizzard since Diablo 2.

        The music in the main game was still quality and there was plenty of variety, but even for a game that big, people played so much of it they eventually tired of hearing the same stuff over and over. I still feel bad for all the jerks who turned the music off in vanilla and didn't turn it back on for that first expansion. They really missed out.

        • reply
          July 25, 2017 3:29 PM

          I've mentioned it here many times, Burning Crusade and WotLK are my favorite WoW soundtrack, both have so many good pieces and themes that just by listening to them I can visualize the zones where they are used.

          I've played just a bit of every expansion after and I cant honestly remember any of them, Pandaria was the most generic for me, Warlords I think had a badass theme in the starter are but that's it =(

        • reply
          July 25, 2017 9:14 PM

          Yup, TBC had some fantastic music. There were some areas where I'd just stop doing what I was doing just to listen to it.

      • reply
        July 25, 2017 1:42 PM

        Yeah. I had to hear rogue stealth noises above all else.

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 4:02 PM

      I guess they're not making enough money.

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 4:37 PM

      That sucks

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 5:40 PM

      I hit the rank of Marshal in vanilla and never PvP'd again.

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 5:46 PM

      Same as Destiny with their composer. Activision ???

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 6:20 PM

      Fuck those guys for that

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 7:37 PM

      Sounds like Activision to me. Remove the director of one of the best music and score departments in the video game industry? I'm gonna take a wild guess and say Bobby. This guy had lawsuits for sexual harassment on his private jet, remember that? "Oh and security is going to rough you up a bit on the way out Mr. Brower."

    • reply
      July 25, 2017 7:42 PM

      Seems like that'd be a contract type position anyway. Pretty surprised it wasn't already.