Dean “Iksar” Ayala leaves the Hearthstone Game Director position after only 3 months in charge
Iksar is leaving Blizzard after 11 years in the company, and the Hearthstone Game Director position is vacant for the second time in three months.
Dean “Iksar” Ayala was promoted to the Hearthstone Game Director position in June, today, he announced he was leaving Blizzard. The community is in shock to lose a figure that has done so much for the game. Messages of love and farewell flooded social media after the news. Let’s go over Iksar’s departure.
Dean ‘Iksar’ Ayala in Hearthstone
Iksar joined the Hearthstone team in December 2013. He was part of different Game Designer teams until 2016 when he became the Lead Designer. His resume is impressive and it was a happy surprise to see him become Hearthstone’s Game Director in June 2022.
However, Iksar is not only an impressive Game Designer. He was a beloved personality in the Hearthstone community. Iksar’s presence on social media lead the way for many other Hearthstone team members and eventually set a new standard regarding open communications.
His Twitter AMAs built a bridge between the community and the Hearthstone Design team. Iksar became such a beacon that he was the first to address the Hearthstone community after the ABK scandal broke out.
Before the Blizzard Walkout, the Hearthstone Design Team broke their silence
A member of the Hearthstone Design Team shared their take on the Activision Blizzard lawsuit. After reflecting and helping communicate the stories of the victims, they talk about how hard it is to celebrate the United in Stormwind expansion
This is where we enter the terrain of speculation. Iksar didn’t say what would be his next step. He hasn’t even lost the HS tag from his Twitter handle. What we know is that Iksar is not only leaving Hearthstone but Blizzard as a whole. Unlike many other Hearthstone figures that moved into Blizzard’s new unannounced project, Iksar is leaving the company.
Another popular destination for many former Hearthstone team members is Second Dinner. The game studio founded by Ben Brode, ex-Hearthstone’s Game Director, has welcomed many talents that left Blizzard. What adds to this theory is that Molly Fender Ayala, former Hearthstone team member and (you probably guessed it) Iksar’s wife, is currently working in Second Dinner.
Second Dinner announced this week that Marvel Snap, a CCG based in Marvel’s Multiverse, is launching worldwide on October 18th. Could all of this just be a happy coincidence?
Regarding Hearthstone’s Game Director position, it’s likely that a team member would temporarily it as it happened after Ben Lee left three months ago. Nathan Lyons-Smith’s name comes to mind as a possible replacement for Iksar. Nathan is Hearthstone’s Executive producer and served as provisional Game Director earlier this year.