Kotaku has a wild article up today ahead of the holiday with input from nearly a dozen anonymous current and former Blizzard employees spilling tea on Diablo, Warcraft, Titan, and… well, if you can imagine it, they’re talking about it. Here’s the executive summary:
On Diablo III: Sources say Blizzard canceled a second expansion for Diablo III, unenthused about the game, even though Reaper of Souls had been a critical success. “At the point they had the strongest Diablo development team ever, they scattered them all to the winds,” says one source.
On Diablo IV: The remaining Diablo team began work on a Diablo IV-ish game dubbed “Hades” with a hardcore Dark Souls-esque bent. That was also canceled and its team built Rise of the Necromancer for Diablo III instead and then “Fenris,” the current codename for Diablo IV, which as rumored is indeed in production and has been since 2016, though it’s changed up things like camera mode over development. Fenris is apparently intended to be more social as well as more dark and gothic than Diablo III.
On Titan: Multiple developers say that “Blizzard is haunted by the specter of Titan” – that is, the pricey, multi-year MMORPG Blizzard was building and scrapped to make Overwatch instead, resulting in a bit of a “back eye” for the studio. Consequently, fear about revealing games too early plagues the company leadership.
On Diablo Immortal: Yes, it’s being developed by a different team from the D4 team, chiefly because “China really wants it.” According to the sources, it was at one point planned to release in China first as a test because “the quality bar in the Chinese market, especially for framerate, is extremely low” – then it would be polished up for the rest of the world. Blizzard didn’t exactly contradict this.
On Warcraft Go: One of Blizzard’s incubator projects is apparently a “Warcraft version of Pokémon Go,” currently in development, though reportedly it has more meat to it than Niantic’s POGO. “These mobile games might not appeal to as many of Blizzard’s hardcore fans – those who prefer to play games mainly on PCs – but they have appealed very much to the developers,” Kotaku notes. We really hope it’s not called WoW Go or Warcraft Go. We’re just being cheeky. We’ll also probably play it.
On Activision: Finally, a large chunk of the article is devoted to the sources’ perception that Activision has an outsized influence on modern Blizzard’s finances and culture, such that cost-cutting is now a core goal. This is apparently a big change for developers used to Mike Morhaime’s “anti-CEO,” make-good-games-and-don’t-worry-about-profits personality. Here’s one of Kotaku’s sources to lead us out:
“You would’ve thought Blizzard was going under and we had no money. […] The way every little thing was being scrutinized from a spend perspective. That’s obviously not the case. But this was the very first time I ever heard, ‘We need to show growth.’ That was just so incredibly disheartening for me.”
Well that was a lot more interesting than anything at the actual BlizzCon.