Blizzard respond to leak concerning Diablo 3 team moving on


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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  1. There will be another expansion for Diablo 3.

    • yeah possibly 2 more i think the return of diablo mephisto and baal then a supreame evil (tathamet hopefully, one can wish anyway)

  2. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that the team currently working on updating the live version of D3 (so not including those that are presumably working on the expansion) consists of many less individuals than it has at previous times. But I don’t know if that means it’s been “gutted” or not, or whether that even matters.

    Honestly for their sake I hope a small team IS the explanation for how they’ve implemented a lot of things. Because I think the only other alternative explanation is incompetence, so…

  3. I think they just have finished some parts of the next expansion and it is likely those people just move on to another game. I see that alot in my work area (electronics), finish a pcb -> move to another project and start pcb designs again.

    • Software projects aren’t like hardware – generally the whole team stays on the project until the end. Testing trends to ramp up at the end, the architects and designers might move to a new project, but generally developers will stay on to complete features and then move into bug fix.

  4. I can’t take this rumour even seriously, considering how good the RoS and Ultimate Editions on consoles did. Blizzard will definetely want to push at least one new expansion for this game before closing the doors and focusing on Diablo 4.

  5. Flux was giving hints that devs were giving him hints about new xpac being developed.

  6. That’s why the innas chest piece icon is still borked.

  7. no wonder until now we don’t have auto pick up

  8. @ “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.”

    When I read this, I knew that it’s not true but made up by some fan, just like these countless “leaked” patch/expansion notes.

  9. PS: My prediction is 4 expansions total (up to level 100) before they work on Diablo 4. It makes no sense to put so much development time (10+ years) into the base Diablo 3 game, which is techically awesome btw, and not use its potential to the fullest on PC & console.

  10. Don’t care, once SC2 and D3 finish I’m done with Blizzard. How both games were handled soured me to them forever.

  11. That's a pretty vague denial. But surely they have a full team working on the next D3 expansion pack. It would be shocking if they're not.

    • Well they have to be vague on denial, since they can't confirm an expansion until they announce an expansion. They made multiple vague "wink wink nudge nudge" expansion mentions at Blizzcon, both on and off stage.

      Related issue on that rumor; it said they were working on the secret Starcraft Universe game in early pre-producton, with late 2016 estimated date. That actually made me laugh out loud; as if a full-sized Bliz game could go from pre-production to release in 2 years? We know how long D3 took, from 2000 at Bliz North to 2005 reboot at Bliz Irvine to 2012 release. And we know it took them like 6 years to decide to cancel Titan/transform some parts of it into Overwatch, which remains years away from release.

      • Except they squeezed out Hearthstone quickly, and that's now almost as important to Blizz as WoW. They are making some serious cash w/ this FTP shovelware b/c they can be super un-Blizzard and actually release it early and often. No, it doesn't make as much as WoW, but the costs are nothing comparatively. Blizzard is like a cable channel trying out reality TV after earning their reputation for long, exquisitely produced dramas.

        • You can't compare Hearthstone to anything else. That game had a very small team, and it's totally different than anything else they're doing. There was a good reason they "squeezed out Hearthstone quickly" and those reason do not apply to any other game they're working on.

          • The point is that that's now what they want to do for every game going forward, sans WoW. Hearthstone is going to be the future of Blizzard. That's the kind of game, the kind of process they are going to use. D3 and SC2 are probably the last of their kind at Blizzard.

        • That's why I said "full sized." Anyone could make a virtual CCG in 2 years. More like 8-12m, for most studios not doing the Blizzard level of depth and polish. Not to say it would be a great game, but the description of the SC world whatever in the rumor sounded like a full game. Not just some smart phone type thing, ala H$.

        • building 3d models takes time! hearthstone has less work poured into it, not because its graphically inferior just its more simplistic than D3 and other blizz games, animations wise it takes less time to move a card than it does to move 3d model of a person + skills (in which you have to animate each armour/weapon piece as well u cannot just tack it on top)…. hence the shortened time for release

      • Also, Overwatch may not be "years away," via this same leak.
        http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/01/29/report-pay-model-for-blizzards-overwatch-still-in-flux

        Late 2015 at the earliest, probably 2016. Like I said earlier, Blizz looked around at the financial landscape of the industry, and taking years to polish a game isn't going to cut it anymore. They have to pump out smaller stuff w/ the same polish quickly. FTP is perfect. You can release tiny shreds of a game, and then as you work on it, release updates and such that nickel and dime the addicted players. Imagine buying each act or character class separately for D3. It probably would have released a hell of lot sooner if they sold it that way.

    • The whole 2 expansion rumor comes from another unofficial leak, why do you believe one more than the other?

  12. Wouldn't shock me. All they're going to do is add in the talisman, PvP arena, and give the Elites trillions of HP, and intro 10k damage weapons, 15k if Ancient. We sort of have skill runes already in the form of legendary gems.

  13. Honestly, if they did leave, that's what we would deserve after bad mouthing them and crusifying a bunch of people that came together to work on a game that is essentially free. People cry about the$60 fee … but, if you take your girlfriend to a movie that lasts 2 hours … it costs almost 30 bucks with popcorn and sodas. so, essentially, what I'm saying is … everywhere else in the world, one gets entertainment cost at around %15 an hour minimum. Let's face it … a movie is a CHEAP date.

    Yet, we play this game for years day in and out and then bitch at the team who toils to make it better. It would be a drag to lose support for this game entirely … but, if it ever happened, it wouldn't shock me.

    • If Blizzard paid for your rent, electric, internet and bought your computer maybe you'd have a point, a theater has expenses you are covering yourself when you watch a movie or play a game at home.

      • Blizzard has operating costs just the same as a theater. They have to supply the servers for any online content, pay people to run them, pay people to develop the game (for 10 years before it was even released), and then pay people to continue to support it.

        I'd say that a game company has as many "expenses you are covering yourself" as a movie theater. There are up front costs, operating costs, and personnel costs in both.

        That's not to absolve them of any blame for how the game turned out, but it is true that a game provides quite a bit of utility for the money you pay.

        • Actually Blizzard sold Diablo to 20 million customers, what it costs for theaters to accommodate 20 millions customers is far greater, hence why it is so expensive. Video games should be compared to music and movies on a disc.

          • Music and Movies on disc are not giving you support with patches for years, as well as are not paying for servers to run the game. Making games is expensive, don't forget about that.

          • It might have been lost along the way, my argument is against comparing 2 hours at the movies to hundreds of hours of Diablo, which the OP proceed to call a "free" experience in this context. I think we should compare apples to apples, 60$ videogame, 20$ movie, 15$ music, all replayable experience at home, that's all.

            Yes, Diablo 3 is an excellent value, but it ain't worth 1000$ just because Starbucks sell its coffee 5$.

        • No one ever mentions the 12 years of employee salaries and operating costs Blizzard had to recover before they could even start to make a profit. I don't have the slightest idea how much "debt" Diablo 3 had accrued, but I bet it was significant.

  14. That original article was such a load of old rubbish. I don't doubt for a second that at least one more expansion is on the way. They've even said so much in some of the live stream interviews (the 2 year anniversary one I think) that the story of Diablo 3 isn't over yet and they want to flesh out more of the world. Of course with that would come more game content/mechanics as well. That and all the talk about future plans for making items, seasons etc, the subtle hints they gave at Blizzcon about an expansion in the works, plus it's their first game on multiple gaming platforms in a very long time. They definitely want to build on that. Oh & also they're currently advertising for jobs working with team. Doesn't sound much like winding up the team to me. http://eu.blizzard.com/en-gb/company/careers/directory.html#region=Americas

  15. Oh I just hope they announce the new expansion this year and before blizzcon and hope it is further in development than RoS was when the Beta started.
    I also hope for once they don't take the fan base lightly and they don't give us some really weird reasons for not increasing the depth of the game or even increasing blood shards cap(confusing new players), we want more crafting, more things to do in the game other than farm 1 or 2 things and make the legendaries as powerful as set items when certain items are combined and add more than just 1 class to the expansion.
    And if their reason for not giving more content is money then they can add cosmetic store with microtransactions.

  16. Really looks like a lot of best guesses more so than actual rumors.

  17. I’m hoping for another expansion. Diablo 3 still has some work to do before it becomes a great game. They finally got the loot right in RoS, but now there is sooo much more to do including nailing the right tone for the game and contextualizing the end-game in the story.

  18. I dont think any new classes will come in the expansion.
    Players are saying how much they will pay for stash space so on that theory…
    1)how much would you pay for set reworks?
    2)how much would you pay for new barb villages?
    3)how much would you pay for new sets?

    My guess is MAY 15th blizzard makes a announcement that the content in patch 2.2 "could" be so much more with a little time and it will become 3.1 expansion.

    Sorry I just dont see any new classes comming to d3.

  19. I call bs on this article. Recent quarterly earnings report call confirmed HS at 25 million users, not the ridiculous 75 mil number here. There's no way LotV is coming out that soon when they haven't even announced the beta start date. The only thing that seems sort of reasonable to believe is the indecision about Overwatch's business model. Also, of course Overwatch is not coming out in 2015. Beta's sometime this year, but who knows when. And we all now how long Blizzard likes to take with it's betas when trying out a new genre (WoW's, Hearthstone's and Heroes of the Storm's testing phases have all gone on for many months).

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