A stack of information regarding Blizzard game releases and future plans has apparently leaked to Yahoo Finance writer Tae Kim concerning Diablo 3, Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm, Hearthstone and Starcraft 2.

    Included in the information from the unnamed source was that the Diablo 3 team has been moved to a new project set in the StarCraft universe which will be similar to Digital Extremes’ Warframe and contain gameplay aspects from “Left4Dead, DayZ, Smite, and other MOBAs.” We’ve seen the loss of Jay Wilson, The auction House, and PVP (not in that order) but the loss of most of the development team?

    Since the leak appeared, Blizzard released a statement regarding the Diablo 3 rumour which debunks it. The statement reads:

    “The Diablo III team is on continuing to support the game with patch content. We generally don’t comment on rumors or speculation, but I do want to make sure it’s clear that they’re not working on a secret project in the StarCraft universe.”

    With Diablo 3 now three years old and not a main source of profit for Blizzard it becomes easy to give these rumors credence. However, We’ve seen plenty of false information from supposed “sources” before. On the other hand, developers jump IPs from time to time;it wouldn’t be unheard of them to lend a hand on a new project while D3 in-between expansions. There is also the slow updates the game has seen since the expansion. However, Diablo 3 Vanilla was never meant to have as many patches as we saw,which may have lead to our expectations for the expansion.

    Which goes to show the power of vague (mis)information, we can speculate wildly to no end and confirm ourselves with loose rationale. Feel free to do so in the comments! Is this merely wild speculation? Confirmation of our fears? Jay Wilson’s fault?

    Update: From numerous public and private conversations with the D3 devs at Blizzcon, in which we heard many not-subtle hints about the imminence of the next expansion pack, the “completely gutted” thing seems unlikely.

    Click through for the full rumor post, which paints a very rosy picture of Hearthstone and WoW, indecision about Overwatch, and pessimism about Heroes of the Storm.

    Rumor archived via Reddit:

    This was put up this morning by Tae Kim at Yahoo Finance. It was taken down, and edited and reposted at http://firstadopter.tumblr.com/ and now has a blizzard response. The original version, since removed, said as follows:

    An Activision Blizzard insider, who could not be named due to his or her employers’ policy on talking to the press, revealed significant details about the company’s current game pipeline. This same source had the name and exact timing information of Blizzard’s Overwatch game announcement last November way before the news. The validity of the Overwatch leak and other various reasons are why I deem him or her to be a credible source.

    The insider says Hearthstone numbers “are off the charts.” The next expansion is due to come out in April and will be more PvE focused. The team is also experimenting with a 2 vs. 2 version. Stunningly Hearthstone has now passed the 75 million players milestone.

    Regarding Overwatch, the insider says the business model is still in flux. They are trying to decide between a free-to-play or expansion type focused model. No matter what, you will initially be able to play the game for free, but how you pay for heroes is still to be decided. The development team is pushing to launch the game this year, but senior executives are skeptical it can be done by then. There is a tiny chance for a December release, but it’s more likely to come out in early 2016 at this stage.

    Executives have “low expectations” for Heroes of the Storm. The insider thinks many of the senior staff on the Heroes of the Storm team will be laid off.

    The next Starcraft 2 game is already done and ready to go. The release date is still not settled. The current time window ranges from April to June.

    The World of Warcraft team has “quadrupled” its art outsourcing, which has been a bottleneck in the past. The next expansion is almost “feature complete.”

    The insider says the Diablo 3 team has been “completely gutted” for a new project set in the Starcraft universe. The game will be similar to Warframe and contain gameplay aspects from Left4Dead, DayZ, Smite, and other MOBAs. It is in early pre-production, which means late 2016 or later.

    The insider gave me more details on other things, but I covered the most interesting content developments. Hearthstone’s success is beyond even the most optimistic expectations and should be a buffer against the continued year-over-year secular decline of the Call of Duty and Skylanders franchises. At time of writing Activision Blizzard could not be reached for comment. Send comments to: taekim(at)yahoo-inc(dot)com

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