Not So Massively: Blizzard cancelled a(nother) game, and I couldn’t be happier

    
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Recently news broke that Blizzard had cancelled an unannounced game that had been in development for several years. This was followed closely by some very juicy (if unconfirmed) rumors about what the game was, and where the resources devoted towards it have been shunted to.

And you know what? It all seems like great news to me.

First, let me say that — from a consumer’s perspective — cancelling a game before launch is not a bad thing. Building an interesting new game requires experimentation, and not all experiments are successful.

In such cases, the right choice is not to churn out a mediocre game just for the sake of putting something out. Cancelling is the right call. Even the cancellation of EverQuest Next, as unquestionably disappointing as that was, was probably the right call on Daybreak‘s part (though I’m sure plenty of MMO fans would disagree with me).

So out of the gate I don’t think a cancelled game is bad news. It’s just part of the business. But then we turn to the reports of what was cancelled and why, it turns into good news indeed.

The reports say that the cancelled game was a competitive shooter similar to the Battlefield franchise, but set in the StarCraft universe, and that the resources and personnel devoted to it have now been shunted toward Diablo IV and Overwatch 2.

Now, yes, these rumors are unconfirmed, but I’m inclined to believe them. It tracks with the hints we’ve seen about what’s going on behind the scenes and Blizzard, particularly their interest in hiring people with experience working on shooters.

For my money, a competitive shooter in the StarCraft universe is not something I feel any desire to play. StarCraft II is easily one of the best games I’ve ever had the pleasure to play, and definitely the best thing Blizzard has done in the last 15 years or so. It provided the perfect capstone to the franchise. If Blizzard is ever to put out another StarCraft game, I’d want to be something truly amazing. A soulless PvP shooter is not that.

To be honest, I still haven’t entirely forgiven Blizzard for turning their other legendary RTS franchise into an online game. For all the hundreds of hours I’ve sunk into WoW, if I could go back in time and replace it with Warcraft IV, I would.

Furthermore, the RTS genre is not what it once was. There aren’t a lot of high quality strategy games on the market right now other than StarCraft II. We need StarCraft to keep carrying the RTS torch.

Honestly, how would a PvP shooter in the StarCraft universe even work, anyway? How do you play Zerg in a game like that? Do you just make every Zerg player an infested marine? That’s just playing Terran with a different skin at that point…

No, a competitive StarCraft shooter is just about the last thing I ever wanted.

What makes this even better news, though, is that the games that are apparently now the focus at Blizzard seem like they’d be much more interesting, at least potentially.

Diablo IV is, admittedly, an idea I have mixed feelings on. I’m simultaneously eager for more Diablo and a bit grumpy around the idea, and the reason for both feelings is the same: I loved Diablo III.

It did have its rough patches, but most of those were solved with the Reaper of Souls expansion, and it did a lot of things incredibly well. The classes are insanely fun and flavorful, the flexibility of the build system does a lot to prevent boredom, and most importantly (at least for me) it had an excellent story with some truly emotional moments and endearing, memorable characters.

And then it just… stopped. Reaper of Souls ended on a cliffhanger, and even many of the side stories around your companions have been left unfinished. As a fan, I feel a bit cheated.

So I’m not sure if I really want Diablo IV. I’ve very eager for more Diablo, but what I want is for them to finish the story of Diablo III.

My concerns could be rather easily solved by making Diablo IV a direct continuation of the story with largely the same characters, as you see in a lot of franchises, but that’s usually not Blizzard’s style. They tend to treat their sequels more as soft reboots. And while I have every confidence that Diablo IV will be a fun game, it just won’t be the same if it’s not also continuing the stories of Shen, Eirena, and Li-Ming.

Moving on to Overwatch 2, what I find surprising — and the one thing that makes me slightly doubt the veracity of these rumors — is that it is reported to be a co-op focused game similar to Left 4 Dead. Given the laser focus on PvP in the current Overwatch, I have to wonder what brought this about.

I’ve spent a lot of time ranting about how Overwatch was making a mistake by neglecting narrative and PvE — especially considering vicious competitive play runs pretty much directly counter to everything the lore is about — but given how massively successful Overwatch has been, by now even my stubborn self must admit I was wrong. Why change now?

Perhaps they simply don’t want Overwatch 2 to supplant its predecessor. Perhaps they are meant to run in parallel and simply provide different experiences: one for PvP, one for PvE.

Regardless, I think there’s a huge market out there for PvE Overwatch. Maybe it’s not as much as I initially wanted to believe, but I don’t doubt it has the potential to be a major success.

For my part, I spent a long time saying that I’d happily throw my money at Overwatch if it offered something other than PvP, as I find the world and its characters very appealing. Eventually that fire died as Blizzard continued to double down on competitive play at the expense of all else, and right now I feel pretty disinclined to care… but I also feel like a good trailer and some gameplay footage could turn that around pretty dang fast.

Regardless, the rumors say that both Overwatch 2 and Diablo IV are due to be announced at this year’s BlizzCon, so I guess we’ll find out then if the reports are true. And as much as I don’t want to support Blizzard these days, I’m fairly confident at least one of these titles is going to grab my attention, certainly far more than a StarCraft shooter ever could have.

Sigh. Just when I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

The world of online gaming is changing. As the gray area between single-player and MMO becomes ever wider, Massively OP’s Tyler Edwards delves into this new and expanding frontier biweekly in Not So Massively, our column on battle royales, OARPGs, looter-shooters, and other multiplayer online titles that aren’t quite MMORPGs.

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Fenrir Wolf

They rarely give their cheap, knockoff Warhammer 40K setting any love. Which, considering the sentence I just wrote, may have something to do with the why of it.

I mean, all it might’ve done is inspired a WH40K equivalent, with the license, which might’ve been more popular. Especially if it was designed by the Vermintide folks. I’m beginning to see a certain Blizzard fatigue with even their most loyal of loyalists. They tend to have a troubling Groundhog Day problem.

There’s just not much thematic difference in what they do, it’s all kind of a melange. If you’re not too deep in to see it, there’s a lot of crossover between even WoW and Overwatch, both aesthetically and thematically. If you’re too deep in, you might not see it, but when the fatigue sets in and you pull back a bit, you ought to.

It’s like Disney princess movies. They seem different but there’s such an underlying excess of verisimilitude. They’re oddly samey.

That’s why I think that the sheer fun of the WH40K setting might actually have a chance to trounce a Starcraft shooter, should one come along. Blizzard hedged their bets with this and made the right choice.

What they really need to concentrate on is finding their own voice. They’ve been coasting off of the success of others for a very, very long time. All good fortune runs out eventually.

(Footnote: And their voice really shouldn’t be sexism and Mary Sue characters. That is not a good voice. No one wants to hear that voice, it’s off-key shower singing but worse.)

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Rawsilver

Guess screw everyone that likes BF style games. In MY opinion it shows just how poor blizzards management is that they’ve cancelled so many games behind the scenes. And just constantly rehash old games to profit off nostalgia. Again just my opinion.

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kgptzac

Celebrating game cancellation before even announcing isn’t so much different from celebrating a game that cancels anywhere else along the road of development. It’s an absurd logic, because one’d have to ignore the prospect that if the company does a better job then it wouldn’t be canceled.

A Starcraft FPS doesn’t magically diminishes SC2’s role in RTS sphere, nor it has to be a “soulless shooter” if Blizzard strives to do better.

I challenge Mr. Edwards list his preferred video games, and I believe the MOP commentator collective will come up with obituaries that’s appropriate for this facade.

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Tithian

“Honestly, how would a PvP shooter in the StarCraft universe even work, anyway? How do you play Zerg in a game like that?”

Uhhh, the same way AvP did it way back? It’s not rocket science. Aren’t there melee heroes in OW, which you praise so much in this same article? How do those work in a PvP shooter?

“To be honest, I still haven’t entirely forgiven Blizzard for turning their other legendary RTS franchise into an online game. For all the hundreds of hours I’ve sunk into WoW, if I could go back in time and replace it with Warcraft IV, I would.”

You do realize you wouldn’t be doing this job if it wasn’t for WoW, right?

This opinion piece was a good indicator that I should be avoiding this column from now on.

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nomadmorlock9

“If Blizzard is ever to put out another StarCraft game, I’d want to be something truly amazing. A soulless PvP shooter is not that.”

So clearly not a PvP or shooter fan and a lack of appreciation for Destiny’s million players a day concurrency.

“For all the hundreds of hours I’ve sunk into WoW, if I could go back in time and replace it with Warcraft IV, I would.”

I stopped reading the article after this. Completely lost interest in your opinions.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

Furthermore, the RTS genre is not what it once was. There aren’t a lot of high quality strategy games on the market right now other than StarCraft II.

I don’t know, I’ve been looking around and there’s still a few decent looking ones out there. Stellaris looked like it’d give hours of fun. There’s always the Civ series, or the branch off games from it. (I still need to get that Civ : Beyond Earth and give it a play some time…) Or there’s a few ‘mainstay’ types..I forget the names…Anno 1800 or something. The European strategy games…

Then again, given that you apparently liked both Diablo 3 and Overwatch, I’d say we’re already on opposing sides of the spectrum.

I agree. I still haven’t touched either of those, and I was a huge blizz fanboi for years. (Up till they charged me $75 for 1/3rd of a game with SCII, and I stopped buying their stuff and began boycotting the company.)

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David Goodman

Honestly, studios cancel projects All. The. Time. It happens constantly and regularly. Blizzard / activision-blizzard is watched closer than most, though; most of the time, you never hear about cancelled products, they just die a quiet death in development

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Bhima Jenkins

Diablo 3 definitely became a good game, but at least for me, I’m sort of over the isometric perspective. I get people still love this stuff but i feel so detached from my character that it all feels very game-y and not immersive at all.

I’m 100% ready for a Diablo game that plays more like a Batman: Arkham Night game but with the ability to play with 3 other people simultaneously. It would be so fun to slay hell’s minions with a 3rd person perspective, really allowing the game designers to create a better feeling of weight and impact to your attacks. And with Blizzard’s polish, it could be really special. Alas, I know they will never do this, as it would alienate their rabid fanbase even moreso than the art style of Diablo 3 already did. Sorry, Diablo 3’s art style is better than D2–its more varied, and interesting to play in. I say that as someone that played D2 religiously for years.

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Java Jawa

overwatch is brilliant and has a ton of potential bas a franchise, great.

Diablo is long over due , people are clamoring for something of a diablo 2 and 3 hybrid so hopefully 4 will do just that.

There’s always the mobile game….cuZ
….we all have phones duh lol

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rafael12104

Hmm. You know this is just the type of story that is “leaked” by big companies for effect.

Yes, after discussing EA’s C-suite motivations my tin had is still on. And I propose that Blizz seeded this story to quell the fears of Blizz faithful and undo the damage of the notorious “you have phones” fiasco.

And yes, it is good news if the story is true.