In a blog post that only recently came up, Tom Chilton has announced that he is stepping down from his position as World of Warcraft's Game Director in order to work on another "adventure within Blizzard". What exactly that means, nobody knows, but what we do know is that Ion Hazzikostas will be taking up the newly freed mantle of Game Director. If you're a long time World of Warcraft player but the name still doesn't sound familiar, you most likely know him by his forum alias Watcher (hence the eye-tastic C'thun image above), and more importantly, by his work on the continuously improving raid encounters.
You can read Chilton's full blog post by heading over to the Blizzard forums, but if you're just interested in the short version - here's a few choice quotes that should give you a general idea of the situation:
"For me, Legion has been more than just another expansion, though—it’s the culmination of more than a decade of work with one of the best development teams I’ve ever had the pleasure to be a part of. And it’s with a mix of excitement, sadness, and gratitude that I’m saying farewell to the WoW team and moving on to a new adventure within Blizzard.
My personal journey working on WoW as Game Director is at an end, but my journey with Blizzard isn’t. I’ll still be here, but will be focusing on another project within the company. However, it’s with great pleasure that I announce Ion Hazzikostas will be taking my place as Game Director for World of Warcraft.
I know that WoW will be in great hands with Ion at the helm. He’s been an integral part of the team for more than eight years and has contributed to so many aspects of the game’s development—from class design to encounter design and nearly everything in between. He also has an amazing team at his side—the same epic crew that brought you all the content you’re enjoying in Legion.
Thank you, and may you have many more epic adventures!"
While all of this might sound like empty platitude, I have to say that I fully agree with him - World of Warcraft is in good hands. Even during Warlords of Draenor, an expansion that is considered to be the absolutely lowest state World of Warcraft has ever been in, all of the raids have been both enjoyable and challenging. Whereas most of the WoW team was taking the WoD expansion as a beta test for Legion, Ion and his crew put forth a ton of effort and made the whole mess actually bearable. As such, I really do think World of Warcraft is in good hands.
However, it is important to keep in mind that any changes that come as a result of Ion's leadership will most likely be subtle and long-term. In other words, don't expect to see a revolution any time soon. If anything, the first real 'Ion patch' will be 7.2, given that Tom Chilton still had a massive influence on the upcoming 7.1 - Return to Kharazan update. Whatever the future ends up bringing, I have a feeling Legion is going to be remembered rather fondly as it genuinely is one of the best expansions Blizzard has ever created.