Blizzard Will Release Two Games In 2012

By John Walker on February 9th, 2011 at 11:17 pm.

Activision and Blizzard meeting ends in typical chaos.

Activision, despite closing down studios as fast as they can, are at least planning on releasing some games. 2012, they promise, will feature two Blizzard titles. That’s if neither of them appear this year, anyway. Which they expect they won’t. But they still might. But they probably won’t. The two games in question most likely being the next portion of StarCraft II, Heart Of The Swarm, and of course Diablo 3. Which they’ll probably only release once they’ve got over 3 million followers on Twitter, or something equally inane.

Speaking on one of those mysterious “financial earning calls” that I’m grateful I’ve never been invited to listen to (and thankful that Joystiq were), the improbably named Activision COO (pronounced, “cooooooo!”) Thomas Tippl explained that,

“Because Blizzard Entertainment has not yet confirmed the launch date for its next global release, our outlook at this time does not include a new game from Blizzard in 2011.”

I’d love to know the dynamics of the Activsion/Blizzard relationship. For a company as transfixed by release dates and advertising revenues as Acti, working alongside a “dun when it’s dun” developer of such an epic scale must make them apoplectic. Until they notice the wads of hundred dollar bills pouring through the pipe network every second from the giant WoW machine, and collect themselves. Tippl continued,

“Should we not see a major title from Blizzard this year, we would expect for planning purposes to launch a minimum of two Blizzard titles in 2012.”

No release date is planned for Diablo 3 because they’re waiting to see player reaction from a forthcoming beta. A beta they promise to talk about in three months time.

So it’s looking pretty likely that Blizzard will be marking their 20th anniversary by not releasing any games at all.

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58 Comments »

  1. geldonyetich says:

    The two games in question most likely being the next portion of StarCraft II, Heart Of The Swarm, and of course Diablo 3.

    That was my first guess too.

    The fact that this is only the second month of 2011, implying they’ve somewhere between 10 and 22 months until they expect to release these, and that the first game is just more content on an already-done engine, the second game the same one they’ve been working on since 2001, is fairly disgusting.

    Apparently having all the money in the world doesn’t get you to release games any faster. There must be damn good coffee and donuts in the Blizzard office, though.

    • Xocrates says:

      Sadly, having all the money in the world is what allows them to release games so slowly.

      I remember them saying that Heart of the Swarm would probably not be out this year, but I still had some hope for Diablo. The fact that they’re still going to do a beta pretty much ensures the game won’t be out this year unless they have some unusual (for them) speedy schedule.

    • Gnomocide says:

      Slow releases, awesome games > Quick releases but mediocre games. In my experience, the companies that give the process almost unlimited amounts of time (Valve, Blizzard) end up making the best games.

      In other words I’d rather have them work on D3 for another 10 years than for it to disappoint.

    • dancingcrab says:

      I agree with Gnomocide…

      As PC gamers, we *bitch* and *bitch* about games being released too early, crippling what could have literally been a masterpiece (looking at you, Bloodlines, KotOR2… and pretty much everything Obsidian ever released). However, along come Blizzard and Valve with their ‘get it right first time’ mentality and, BAM, off we go again, *bitching* and *bitching*.

      Just saying.

    • Marshall Stele says:

      Very true, but one would hope splitting Starcraft 2 into three parts (Or is that simply making three separate games under the “Starcraft 2″ title? I remain confused.) would mean reduced production time on each individual title. You’d think that Heart of the Swarm doesn’t need extensive work on the engine; rather, it needs tweeking on the maps and unit designs, and of course epic work must go into the epic cinematics.

      But then, we kinda heard this back with the Half Life 2 episodes. Episode 2 was great, but I would like to see at least some idea that Valve is actually working on 3. And as much as it pains me to say this, Blizzard does have them beat in this department. We at least know they’ve got Heart of the Swarm in the pipeline.

    • CoyoteTheClever says:

      Its understandable to have such slow release cycles if you are producing massively innovative games, but Blizzard never really innovates. They make solid games, but not great games.

    • Xocrates says:

      @CoyoteTheClever: Doesn’t mean that just because they’re not innovative they shouldn’t try to make them the best they can though. If they have the resources, why not?

    • DarkFenix says:

      You’d think so Marshal Stele, but then episodic content usually involves cutting down the amount of content too. StarCraft 2: WoL was a huge game, quite easily on a par with full size non-episodic RTS games, bigger than most in fact. Obviously the other two parts ought to be quicker since the core game is there now, but there’s no doubt still a huge amount of content coming.

      CoyoteTheClever: I’d say that making a game that works on day one is a pretty innovative strategy. I mean, how many games actually work properly on release?

    • hocevar says:

      You do realize that the team that was making Diablo 3 was dismantled in 2005* right ?

      * The guys from Blizz. North which went on to start Flagship Studios(Hellgate London) and after that created Runic Games and gave us goodness with Torchlight

    • Corrupt_Tiki says:

      @ Marshall Steele,

      I don’t want to hijack or be a dick or anything but… Valve where the fuck is Ep.3?! I’ll have to replay the whole series over again, because I forgot the antagonists name; Fordan Greeman?

      Episodic Content is I guess a nice way of saying ‘almost sequel #..’

      Although Thoroughly enjoyed HL2 Ep1,2.

    • AJ says:

      @Gnomocide
      “In other words I’d rather have them work on D3 for another 10 years than for it to disappoint.”

      By that logic… Duke Nukem will be the bestist game eva!

    • Wang Tang says:

      @Corrupt_Tiki
      I think you mean Gordon Freemans’s antagonist, Gordon Frohman?

    • kororas says:

      However, Blizzard has a certain kind of polish that cannot be matched by any other developer that I can think of.

    • Gnomocide says:

      @CoyoteTheClever
      I think a game can be great without being especially innovative. That said, the rune system planned for D3 seems quite innovative to me, not to mention absolutely huge in scope.

      @AJ
      I didn’t mean that working on a game for 10 years necessarily makes it good – it has to be 10 productive years (not duke nukem forever in other words…). I’d prefer that Blizzard spends the necessary time, even if it’s 10 years, rather than release a disappointing D3. Sure, they’re incredibly slow, but they usually make really high quality games as a result.

    • HeavyStorm says:

      Had no hope for Diablo 3 whatsoever. Come on, it’s blizz we’re talking about… They have to delay the game for two more years.

      Actually, write this down: we won’t be seeing two Blizz titles next year. One, and my good guess is Diablo 3, not because I think development is more advanced, but because they just released Starcraft so will be at no hurry to launch another one in such a close date.

    • bob_d says:

      @ hocevar: Yeah, it’s funny because Bliz north had a working alpha of D3 when the studio was shut down. I saw the alpha, and from what I can tell, Bliz south pretty much tossed what was there and started from scratch, not keeping anything of the original game besides a few ideas. I suppose they didn’t have a choice from either a technical or creative standpoint – most of the senior people at Bliz north who hadn’t already quit declined the offer to move south, and the first D3 engine was a bit old and idiosyncratic (not fully 3d, etc).

    • Jad says:

      Basically when it comes to release turnaround and quality, while “fast and great” is clearly the best, most game development falls into either:

      1) Fast and mediocre/bad
      or
      2) Slow and good/great

      (with the Diakatana Memorial category “slow and mediocre/bad”, which we don’t need to pay attention to)

      While I’d love to have development houses pump out brilliant, world-shaking games every year, I’ll take category 2 over category 1 any day of the week.

  2. ezekiel2517 says:

    “So it’s looking pretty likely that Blizzard will be marking their 20th anniversary by not releasing any games at all.”

    Very fitting.

  3. Ian says:

    Won’t they be due a new WoW expansion at the end of 2012 as well?

    • Dashiva says:

      Exactly what I was thinking. There’s still a chance of Diablo at the end of this year if the beta hits as soon as 3 months. Seeing as most of their other betas last 4-6 months, we could quite possibly still see release this year.

    • Shadram says:

      Yep, my thoughts were that it would be Diablo 3 and the next WoW expansion (which they always class as a new game release, for some reason).

    • Magrippinho says:

      Yeah, another WoW expansion should be a given for 2012, and I think it’s pretty unlikely we’ll get 3 Blizzard titles in one year. I mean, even if three separate Blizzard projects happen to be ready at the same exact time, some financial adviser will surely put a stop to this madness and spread them around more logically.

      I also don’t think Diablo III can keep blue-balling us all the way to 2013, so it’s either stalling Starcraft 2.3 for 2013, or releasing Diablo in late 2011.

      But there are plenty of heavy hitters for late 2011, so, my guess is Diablo 3 Q2 2012, WoW Expansion Q4 2012 and Starcraft 2.3 Q2 2013.

      That’s all just a guess of course. The only thing I know for sure is “Lost Vikings III” in 2014.

      … IN 3D!

    • Flint says:

      “(which they always class as a new game release, for some reason).”

      Considering how big the WoW expansions tend to be, they might as well.

  4. mkultra says:

    Son of a bitch.

  5. Mephistoau says:

    Oh man this blows – i was sure they were gonna release D3 for Nov/Dec this year. DAMNIT BLIZZARD STOP MAKING ME WAIT. o_0

  6. Freud says:

    They might not release games but at least Blizzcon will be better for it!

  7. BooleanBob says:

    My money’s on HL2 Episode 3 and Lego Call of Cthulhu.

    • JFS says:

      Now that Duke Nukem is probably gonna be released for real, your prediction seems fairly sound.

    • Azradesh says:

      I just had the thought that if Blizzard and Valve worked on a game together, we’d be lucky to see any more then a single screen shot before the heat death of the universe.

    • deejayem says:

      Non-Euclidean Lego would be awsoms!

  8. Christopher says:

    That’s unfortunate that Diablo III will come out in 2012, I am quite looking forward to it as are my roommates. Still, a polished Blizzard game is worth its weight in minerals and perfect skulls.

    Incidentally this is my first post as I just found RPS through a reddit link. This is the highest quality and most consistently humorous game blog I have ever come across. You’re all top notch, keep it up!

  9. rocketman71 says:

    The dynamics of the Activision/Blizzard relationship?. Easy. They compete to see who can be more of a douchebag. And it’s very close.

  10. Jeremy says:

    While I’m not thrilled about it, at least I’ll have a chance to catch up on games I’ve missed, and play others that I might have passed on otherwise. So, glass half full.

  11. Daryl says:

    Who wants to bet we’ll see those two games before we see Half-Life 2: Episode 3?

    BTW, it does say “for planning purposes”. Nothing is etched in stone.

    • Perjoss says:

      Valve doesn’t really need to make games anymore, they can make plenty of dough by putting other people games up on steam. Although I think it would be a great move by them to step up their game as far as the half life franchise goes because people might look at them in this light: “not only do they have a great download service, but they also keep my half life itch fully scratched” in turn people will be even more inclined to spend cash on steam games.

  12. Unfair says:

    I’d love to know why an experienced game company like Blizzard can take months longer to make D3 than it will take Runic to make two Torchlight games!. They clearly don’t lack money, so I’d love to know what the problem is..

    The Torchlight games aren’t anything to scoff at either – they aren’t trying to revolutionize the genre, but they look decent and are amusing to play.

    • Premium User Badge liquidsoap89 says:

      Blizzard games generally try to raise the bar a little higher than the “look decent and are amusing to play.” level…

      Plus Blizzard is also working on… what, 3-4 games at once?

    • Xocrates says:

      Not to mention that Torchlight was an extremely simplified version of Diablo 2 (with better interface) and by all accounts Diablo 3 is shaping up to be bigger.

    • hocevar says:

      I’m a Torchlight fan, I pre-ordered, I played the hell out of it and loved it but Diablo is on a whole other level.

    • DrGonzo says:

      I wouldn’t say Torchlight was a simplified Diablo, in some respects it was more complex. In the end both games come down to simply right clicking on enemies. Calling either innovative would be ridiculous.

      Starcraft 2 had no innovation and I really doubt Diablo 3 will either. But it will be super-duper polished and satisfying to play.

    • realityflaw says:

      I agree, Torchlight was awesome, but it was a snack, D3 will be a four course meal, beat singleplayer / replay singleplayer a few dozen times on hardcore to find my favorite class / Multiplayer / Beat Nightmare Hell in Multi and maybe hardcore. Also PvP is sizing up nicely… Yeah I’m gonna be spending a lot of time with this game, I hope they take as long as they need to get it perfect.

  13. outoffeelinsobad says:

    Is it weird that I could hear “O Fortuna” in my head as I was reading this?

  14. CTRL-ALT-DESTROY says:

    God damnit, I just lost a $50 dollar bet… for the second year in a row. I feel so stupid. Diablo III can suck my balls.

    • Njordsk says:

      well, betting 50 bucks on a blizzard release date… you deserve it.

    • realityflaw says:

      @ Njordsk

      +1 If you know anything about Blizzard it should be that they take their time, and do it right the first time. They stopped making release announcements for a reason you know.

  15. arioch says:

    I predict that both games will sell 5 million copies and will spark never ending debate between the “Blizzard Activision are Evil” camps and the “Blizzard are Gods” fanboys.

    At least Activision seem to have a decent understanding with Blizzard about not pressuring them on release dates. The moment Activision start pressuring Blizzard for content even once, it will ruin them. I’m glad they seem to appreciate this.

    I for one am so glad that we are gaurenteed at least one awesome PC game every couple of years, The fact that I’m not really a fanboy but still have Diablo 2, Starcraft BW, WoW, Starcraft 2 and Warcraft 3 all installed on my computer is a good sign that Blizzard are doing something right.

    Also – who could hate the company that made Rock and Roll Racing on the snes?!

    • realityflaw says:

      The mythology is pretty straightforward actually;

      They started out as mere mortals who through arduous production processes and extensive after market support eventually ascended to godhood, but they were subverted by the evil god MMOrdus who has enslaved them by making them reliant on their addiction to steady cash streams. There is still hope however, though large portions of the essence which brought them to the pinnacle of expression have broken off into other realms of travail there is some portion of goodness left within them and we must all pray they fight to maintain it.

  16. Mac says:

    I hope they release D3 soon – i’ve had a pre-order with Game for the last couple of years.

    My betting is that by the time Blizzard get around to releasing it, Game won’t be around Oo

  17. DeepSleeper says:

    I don’t understand the complaining here.

    You take time, and the game becomes better.

    • Bhazor says:

      Yeah worked great with GT 5 and Final Fantasy XIII didn’t it?

  18. My2CENTS says:

    Wow, i though they’ll release the next SC2 exactly an year later, whats going on here? I don’t like waiting 2 years for 5 hour campaign, hell the modders can do this in a week or so. Don’t care for Diablo though.

    • Werthead says:

      HEART OF THE SWARM is another 30-mission campaign, the same as WINGS OF LIBERTY. So likely 15 hours of SP content (not counting skirmish mode), plus some modficiations to multiplayer. It won’t be a small game, that’s for certain.

    • anduin1 says:

      when you have the base engine down, it doesn’t take 2 years to make modifications to it. I bet a team of dedicated modders could do it in 6 months minus the cutscenes.

    • My2CENTS says:

      I’m sure it doesn’t take that long to build a expasion, its just Blizzard is always pedantic when releasing games, that’s why everything they made is/was played by millions.

      How long can it take to finish that Campaign?
      - They don’t work on the multi-player
      - They have the engine, internal tools etc.
      - They probably already have the script

      However i don’t know if they recorded the audios with the actors, but assuming this takes a month for all the lines its still 11 months left to do it.

  19. anduin1 says:

    Im over Blizzard at this point of my gaming career. If they put something good out and I’m interested, I’ll just pick it up but I’m not going to worry about what they might be releasing in the next 5 years. There’s so many good studios out there putting out games in timely manners that deserve my attention. I’m just waiting to see how bad Activision is about to fuck up Blizzard now that they only have CoD holding them up.

  20. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Although making sure a game is polished, as bug free as you can make it and has a good amount of content provide for a lot of leniency towards late releases, in the case of Starcraft 2 I simply suspect they draw them out farther on purpose.

    But, as said, that’s merely a suspicion.

    Overall, I feel that Blizzard, while still a very good game company, has become more and more affected by the mindset we can see from EA and other Activision products: although the games they release are polished and generally rather enjoyable.. I feel they are focusing on monetising (that is, wrenching their customers dry of a as much money as possible) lot more than they used to. I’ll just point at the splitting of Starcraft 2 into three parts and WoW’s continually adding on of micropayment options -aside- from the subscription model. One supposes it might be the influence of Activision.. but who knows?