Blizzard Are Considering An RTS Return For Warcraft

A pair of recent interviews with Blizzard employees, conducted by IGN at Gamescom, have hinted at the future of the Warcraft franchise beyond the MMO’s vice-like embrace. It’s not only movies; there might be a new strategy game on the cards.

Finding that header image was a trip to nostalgia town, let me tell you. Did you know you can still access the old version of Battle.net from before SC2 launched? The hours I spent on that site waiting for information on StarCraft II in the early-mid 00s… Memories.

Anyway. Speaking to Tim Morten, a producer with Blizzard’s RTS squad Team 1, who are currently polishing off Legacy of the Void [official site] for its release before the end of this year, IGN asked about what was next.

This isn’t the end of StarCraft, but it’s the end of this story for these characters. We don’t have any specific plans, but I’ll say that the universe has so much potential for more stories, clearly other stories could be told.

It’s very rewarding for us to hear that there’s demand out there for more RTS content in the Warcraft universe so once we’re done with Void I think we’ll get together as a team and talk about what would inspire us to work on next. There’s no question, though, that we’ll consider Warcraft, StarCraft, or even new ideas. Anything is possible.

There’s some obvious difficulties with this, not least from a story perspective. WoW isn’t going down any time soon, so any plot elements would need to fit into or around that, or ignore its existence completely and start afresh from the end of The Frozen Throne, Arthas happily chilling out on his new seat.

However, Blizzard’s stories have never been a primary focus and can be changed to suit, so I think the biggest hurdle will be trying to turn what people remember about Warcraft into a good RTS. It was a fantastic system for handling characters in small squads, but there’s a reason I most fondly remember Rexxar’s mercenary campaign and the various ‘commando’ missions rather than anything involving building a base and training units. DotA was a sort-of multiplayer version of that and it’s stood the test of time. A new Warcraft RTS would need significant system changes to do the same.

IGN also spoke to Dustin Browder, ex-StarCraft-man and now-Heroes-man, on the pseudo-similar topic of a Heroes of the Storm single-player mode.

We’ve definitely thought about it. It’s not being worked on today, but it is cool.

We’d love to do it – we have the tools, we have the technology, we have a team that’s very passionate about that type of content. I’ve certainly heard it mentioned around the office many, many times. No one’s coding today, though. I don’t want to overpromise and say it’s imminent – it’s not imminent. But it’s something we definitely want to do.

Rather than just playing out Heroes matches against bots, he’s talking here about something closer to those missions I mentioned from Warcraft 3. I could definitely get into that, although it would presumably remain a cross-universe thing rather than focusing purely on Warcraft.

It sounds like any announcements are years away, but we’ll probably find out more about what Blizzard are working on at Blizzcon in November, including – I hope – the long-rumoured HD remasters of classic Blizzard games.

65 Comments

  1. Nevard says:

    I wouldn’t get too excited, I have seen a lot of people making a big deal about this and I think they are setting themselves up for disappointment.

    All they said was “it’s on our list of possibilities”. Warcraft 4 has always and will always be on their list of possibilities. It was one of their most popular franchises.
    But as they have so many other pretty popular irons in the fire right now, there’s also going to be a lot of other things on their list of priorities than making another RTS, a genre that’s been quietly dying for years now.

    This wasn’t a promise, or a hint, or a reveal. All that this essentially means is that someone literally asked if they were going to make a Warcraft 4 and they didn’t say “no”.

    • Xzi says:

      Well, it is Blizzard. Blizzard not continuing to make Warcraft/Starcraft/Diablo would be like Nintendo halting production on Mario/Zelda/Metroid games. Another Warcraft RTS would also be the logical progression of things since we’ve recently had Diablo and Starcraft game releases.

      That doesn’t mean it’s going to come any time soon, however, nor does it guarantee that Blizzard can still make a good Warcraft RTS. Blizzard time is nearly as bad as Valve time, and most of the talent behind Warcraft 3 left Blizzard long ago.

      • Myrdinn says:

        Don’t forget we’re at like Mario 23 or something while Diablo and Starcraft are only on their second installment (well, I know SC2 is technically 3 games). Plus platformers aren’t a dying genre.

        My guess is that they might make Warcraft IV as a substitute for future SC expansions/installments.

        • Xzi says:

          I don’t think you can chalk up low player counts in SC2 to a “dying genre,” I think it just doesn’t have the same lasting appeal that Starcraft and Warcraft 3 did. Which is why I worry about ActiBlizzard developing a new Warcraft RTS. It could be good, but it could also be so bad that it ruins the franchise.

      • XhomeB says:

        Blizzard failed to make a good Starcraft RTS, so yeah – no idea if they can make WC4 fun.
        Overemphasis on “balance”, poorly designed units, “pro play” and “terrible, terrible damage” led to deathballs, stale meta and steady decline of SC2 player base.
        And concerning the SC 2 campaign – horrible story aside, it just wasn’t that replayable. WC3 had fun missions you could, for the most part, play in many different ways. SC2 has too many “gimmicky” or “on timer” missions, and way too linear maps that basically push you from one setpiece to the other. It’s bad in WoL, but especially annoying in HotS. Didn’t like it, at all.

  2. dontnormally says:

    > “there’s demand out there for more RTS content in the Warcraft universe”

    DO YOU FUCKING THINK ???

    Jesus. To hell with WoW, what a wretch of a waste of bytes. it’s primary effect on gaming is to have prevented us from getting Warcraft 4.

    • Asurmen says:

      “It’s primary effect on gaming is to popularise the MMO genre and to provide entertainment for millions for people for a decade now”

      Fixed your post for you.

      • dontnormally says:

        Oh, I see we have differing opinions – neat!

        But in all seriousness – Warcraft II and III were the best things ever. That IV has (obviously) been postponed indefinitely soas to not interrupt their cash cow is undoubtedly bullshit.

        There was no need to completely halt progress on a generation’s favorite RTS franchise in order to jumpstart another genre entirely.

        • dontnormally says:

          Also worth mentioning: Warcraft II is the reason Blizzard even exists as a megapublidevelisher anyway.

          • Asurmen says:

            How is it bullshit? They’re making/have made loads of money from WoW. That you don’t like the fact that it was happened and prevented a story being told through an RTS doesn’t change that fact.

            As for your second paragraph, erm, while WoW continues to exist AND being expanded, it’s hard to do an RTS sequel without either completely setting it so far in the future as to be irrelevant to the world and people’s connection to Azeroth as it stands, or contrain WoW story telling ability by setting it at more or less the same time frame as WoW.

            What I’d do is set up the world at a certain place in WoW, do an RTS immediately following whatever big bad/horrible event happened and then launch WoW2.

            Could do a prequel but can’t really see where the interest in making that would derive from. All the big previous events have been described in some manner.

          • dontnormally says:

            Do you remember, 10+ years ago, being really excited for the Warcraft 4 announcement, then it was WoW, then they never made Warcraft 4?

            I’m not the only one, dude.

            WoW is fine – but there was no need for this completely unrelated thing to sabotage many people’s favorite RTS franchise.

          • Asurmen says:

            I literally just explained why there is a need to prevent a sequel while WoW is still under development…

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            I sympathize with you both and I am a huge fan of WC3 but I definitely agree that Blizzard could not have made WC4 simultaneously with WoW or even during the popularity of WoW. Bringing out a flagship RTS branded as Warcraft would just have confused people, divided focus within Blizzard, and watered down the brand. Letting WoW run its course and then thinking about WC4 is the way it had to happen. It’s only recently, and after the decline of WoW had already begun, that Blizzard even went as far as risking Hearthstone. A warcraft RTS made at any time in the last 10 years would never have had Blizzard’s full focus and attention as it probably requires in order to be a worthy successor to WC3.

        • Capt. Bumchum McMerryweather says:

          Actually, Asurmen stated a fact, you just stated your opinion like it was a fact.

          • dontnormally says:

            1. Warcraft was an RTS franchise (what i said)
            2. Warcraft is now an MMO franchise (what he said)

            1 and 2 are both true. WoW is the reason for both 1 and 2.

            I’d suggest that 1 takes precedence (its primary effect on gaming).

          • Asurmen says:

            That would be either a secondary or even tertiary effect. My previously mentioned points are far bigger in their impact than an RTS game not being made, and you thinking preventing an RTS existing is the primary effect would, in fact, be an opinion.

          • dontnormally says:

            You’re right, they probably haven’t made a Warcraft RTS in over a decade for reasons unrelated to WoW.

          • Asurmen says:

            That’s completely unrelated to the point I was making. I know WoW is what is preventing a sequel being made. I’ve stated as much in my other posts. That still isn’t it’s primary impact though.

          • pepperfez says:

            It is WoW’s primary effect on someone who loved the RTS Warcraft and doesn’t care about the MMO Warcraft. And its primary effect on the Warcraft franchise, and on the RTS market. Investors would say its primary effect is on Actiblizz’s share price. Trying to tease out a universal, objective primary effect is a fool’s errand; “Primary to whom?” is always a relevant question.

          • Asurmen says:

            pepperfez, he said primary effect on gaming, not anyone’s subjective experience.

          • JamesTheNumberless says:

            WoW’s most celebrated effect on the world and on gaming has been to bring online gaming into the public consciousness, and to establish MMOs as a major genre, leading to dozens of games being made with similar mechanics over a period of about 10 years. It’s fairly difficult to argue that any of its other effects is more important. Secondary to that is probably the effect it had on Blizzard themselves, growing them into a massive entity. WoW’s effect on online gaming as a whole (not just MMOs) was to massively raise people’s expectations of the quality they should expect from online games, which was another pretty major and pretty good thing for the games industry.

            Also, re. WoW’s effect on RTS gaming. I don’t think the correlation is proof of cause and effect. RTS games declined at the time there was sudden growth in console gaming and at a time when plenty of sources were predicting the death of PC gaming. RTS games are notoriously difficult to pull off on consoles and so became much less popular in an era where AAA games had to think of consoles as the primary platform. MMOs seemed, for a good while, to be one of the few things justifying the PC as a games platform.

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s primary effect on gaming is to popularise the MMO genre
        Man, you didn’t need to be that hard on it.

    • MooseMuffin says:

      I would argue that there’s practically no demand in the RTS market anymore, at least not one on the scale that a company Blizzard’s size would be interested in. I suspect they wouldn’t have even made this 3rd part of SC2 if they hadn’t already committed to a trilogy.

      • banananas says:

        It always comes down to the profit, eh? Such a sad, sad world we live in where everything needs to be monetizable in order to have any kind of “value”…

        • Nevard says:

          Well when you’re talking about Blizzard, they are a massive company who spend millions of dollars on things. As we unfortunately live in a capitalist world, it is simply not feasible to throw millions of dollars into vanity projects that only a few people will play and won’t pay for.
          Their employees got to eat.

  3. unraveler says:

    Zug zug

  4. Joe Clark says:

    Sure, I’ll lob a hand-grenade of wild speculation into the rumour trench.

    I was playing HotS recently and wondering whether I was seeing the future of the RTS. I suspect MOBAs will feedback to the design of Blizzard’s next RTS – whatever that may be.

    I don’t really know what this means. I suspect more automation of base building and grunt control and increased emphasis on the hero units. I’d anticipate some kind of integrated metagame, although how that will work with story I don’t know. Maybe co-op will be built into the campaign and we’ll even see something a bit more like Left 4 Dead’s campaigns.

    Blizzard, like Valve, want to build games as services, with huge numbers of players logging in daily, and lots of opportunities to make money from micro transactions. A big expansive single player campaign doesn’t obviously fit that model – so I think we’ll see an evolution in how RTS stories are told.

    Unsure whether that’s a good or a bad thing, but any innovation in storytelling is of interest to me.

    • pepperfez says:

      Warcraft 4 will be the algebraic mean of (Heroes of the Storm + WoW)?

    • WarOnGamesIndustry says:

      Did you not play Warcraft III? It’s hero unit design was the signal most influential element in the development of MOBAs.

      • Joe Clark says:

        Yes. Well, that and the map editor and custom game support. The point is that I think MOBAs will feed back into conventional RTS design, which is an interesting circularity.

  5. peterako1989 says:

    I think that WoW was a waste of lore. An MMO is no way of telling a story. WoW should never have happened. Warcraft 4 should continue the lore not WoW.

    • dontnormally says:

      This guy fucks.

    • Bluestormzion says:

      WoW would have been a fine way to tell the story, if they had ended it at the original level cap. You’d do all the quests, all the dungeons, all the raids, get the entire story and BAM, done. With Burning Crusade, all the vanilla endgame lore was buried where nobody would see it. With Wrath of the Lich King, all the Burning Crusade endgame lore was buried. With Cataclysm, not only was the WLK endgame lore buried but every dungeon from that expansion and every previous expansion, AND all the vanilla questing lore was buried or even obliterated. Pandaria buried Cataclysm, and now Draenor buried Pandaria.

      So now something ridiculous like 90% of the story of World of Warcraft is either inaccessible or a slog through non-beneficial content. THAT was the mistake. To try and make an engaging story driven world and then bury the story.

      • death_au says:

        WoW should have been Worlds of Warcraft and told stories in worlds alternate to Azeroth and Dranor, where many ended up after the events of Beyond the Dark Portal ripped Dranor apart with many portals that could have gone anywhere.
        As someone who hasn’t played WoW and therefore not kept up with the lore beyond Warcraft 3, does anyone know what happened to those guys?

  6. PancakeWizard says:

    About time. I’ve long been confused as to why Blizzard haven’t made a Warcraft 4 that covers all the events that WoW has dealt with. Seems like a no-brainer.

    • Asurmen says:

      I’m struggling to see the point in that though. They’d want to make a new story.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Look at the timeline (from Year 25 – The Gathering Storm if you’re lost): link to eu.battle.net

        You wouldn’t want to fight those battles in RTS form?

        • Asurmen says:

          Nope. I’d want a new story, not utterly pointless already told prequels.

  7. Zaxwerks says:

    If they do make it, and they make it always online through Battlenet “to enhance the gaming experience” I will find the lead developer and scream in his face.

    • JamesTheNumberless says:

      Depending on what exactly you mean by “lead developer”, it’s unlikely to be his fault. You probably should be screaming at someone at board level, or possibly at their legal team.

  8. Pulstar says:

    And it’ll take two decades to complete I suppose?

  9. kud13 says:

    Warcraft III was my most anticipated game. Ever.

    But that Blizzard is long dead and gone. First WoW, then always-online D3…

    The last straw was waiting 2 hours to download and install a bunch of Wings of Liberty updates (game was a Day 1 purchase for me, btw), only to find out I can no longer do an offline log-in other than “guest” in my own game.

    I walked away then (must have been November 2010) and never looked back.

    • XhomeB says:

      I don’t blame you. Despite hating WoW and pretty much seeing the writing on the wall (old staff leaving, WoW having a joke of a plot), I was super excited about SC2.
      Easily the disappointment of the decade for me (along with Fallout 3) – I wasn’t prepared for this amount of stupidity, poor voice acting and sound design being but a shadow of the awesomeness of SC1&Brood War.
      Diablo 3 came out, I played it with a friend. Quit. Again, it wasn’t a Diablo game, but a poor, cartoonish, dumbed down imitation with an AWFUL plot to boot.
      The “old” Blizzard is dead. There was a time when I could buy their games and get a stellar product. Period. These days are long gone. The “Blizzard” logo remains, but the people behind the new games are…amateurs.

      • Myrdinn says:

        I totally agree with your sentiments but calling them amateurs is a tad bit harsh for my taste. I recently checked out D3 again (with the expansion) and it’s actually pretty decent now. It’s not D2 by a long shot as it has a whole different atmosphere – but the ‘adventure’ mode helps; removing all the cringy dialogue and quests at least.

        But yeah, the Blizzard of old is dead and gone. It’s the same with the Fallout games actually.. the new games aren’t anywhere close 1+2 but they’re decent games at least (well, New Vegas is imho). The old Black Isle studios is never coming back tho :'(.

  10. XhomeB says:

    Ben has a good point. WoW is a total mess as far as stories and lore in general are concerned, so where do you go from there? Assuming Warcraft 4 gets made, when should it take place? My preference would be a direct continuation of The Frozen Throne and treating WoW as a crappy, poorly written spin off, but will Blizzard have the guts to do that?

    In any case, I have no faith in Blizzard as a studio these days. SC2 and Diablo 3 were terribad. Childish, horribly written, devoid of soul. OK games in their own right, but they flat out killed their respective universes, they were devoid of the charm and cleverness of their predecessors and retconned the crap out all the cool things that made sense.

    • kud13 says:

      Didn’t one of the WoW expansions play with the idea of alternative timelines? Just run with that and make the 2 continuities runs parallel-the RTS one and the MMO one

      • death_au says:

        Then if it works you could set up crossover expansion pack to both War4 and WoW which causes the timelines to cross and… Wait, isn’t that what HotS is?

  11. MadTinkerer says:

    So I guess the race between Half Life 3 and Warcraft IV isn’t over after all!

  12. Monggerel says:

    Well, as long as it’s online only.

  13. Distec says:

    The lore from WoW needs to be jettisoned if Warcraft 4 wants to make any attempt at a decent story. Quality aside, it’s just a convoluted mess of retcons, nonsensical alliances, and “monster of the week” syndrome for every expansion.

    Flush it all, pick up from TFT, and maybe give the Lich King a conclusion that doesn’t suck balls.

  14. Sly-Lupin says:

    After what I’ve heard about WoW and what I’ve played in SC2, I really don’t want to see another Warcraft RTS… What made the old Blizzard games so memorable was the writing,and they’ve completely lost that.

  15. Asurmen says:

    I seem to be the only person who doesn’t have a problem with WoW lore. Or Diablo 3. Or StarCraft 2.

  16. c-Row says:

    Like most people who loved StarCraft I was totally excited about its sequel until I played it and couldn’t shake the feeling that they had replaced a great single player campaign with a prolonged tutorial for the multiplayer mode. Seeing how Blizzard operates these days I would rather not have WC4 at all than see it getting turned into another StarCraft 2.

  17. Molay says:

    I was unaware that the RPS community is so fervently hating on blizzard nowadays. I must have missed that hate train, as I’m still very much enjoying most of their products on a daily basis. Is it really the possibility of microtransactions, which is mentionned so often, that makes people hate on blizzard? I’m really confused by all those comments. Some even talk about the story as though it was the worst story the world has ever seen, obviously they’ve never read a 50 cents book from a flea market. Like, come on? What is going on???

    • kud13 says:

      Can’t speak for the hate train, but for me personally it was the systemic alienation of single-player gamers.

      I adored WC3. It was my most anticipated game ever, I played through the campaigns multiple times.

      I completely ignored WoW. The idea of a monthly sub was ludicrous to the 16 year old me, and it still is.

      I followed development of SC2. Not as fanatically close as I did with WC3 (I just about stopped being an RTS junkie at this point and discovered other genres), but still, fairly close. I was ok with splitting the campaign in 3–I loved meta-map story campaigns since Warlords: Battlecry III, and I think more games should use them.

      I bought Wings of Liberty on launch day. I played through it twice that summer. Never touched multi-player. Never even thought of touching multi-player. Always played offline, b/c my laptop at home was alway on wi-fi, which was iffy with 5 PCS competing for signal in the same household.

      Then I went away to first year law school, and didn’t touch the game (or any game, besides Spider Solitaire) for 3 months. When I decided to get back into it, booted up the game to finish my 3rd run, I had to deal with downloading over 2 hours of updtes, at the end of which, battle.net told me I can no longer log into my game offline, other than a “guest”. There was supposedly a workaround on battle.net user settings for this, but I could not find it after about an hour of searching, since I kept being led in circle by the unhelpful battle.net ui.

      More to the point, I was incredibly pissed off that updates (that are supposed to make the game better for me), instead made my life more difficult, by sabotaging the convenience of me playing using my own profile offline-the option that CAME WITH THE BASE GAME. AND NOW IT WAS REMOVED, BECAUSE SOMEONE AT BLIZZARD THOUGHT THEY KNEW BETTER THAN ME HOW I SHOULD PLAY THEIR GAME.

      I haven’t touched SC2 since. I had some faint hopes about D3 and followed it’s development, until the “always online” announcement. At that point I stopped even thinking about ever purchasing or playing a Blizzard game again. Blizzard is dead to me, we’ve gone our separate ways. I was a rabid Blizzard fanboy, the original StarCraft battle chest was the first ever game I purchased with my own money. The years 1997-2005 I was all about Blizzard. But I feel they did an outstanding job abandoning pretty much everything I loved about their games.

  18. alisonburgers says:

    I’m not getting my hopes up…..but a new Warcraft RTS would be absolutely amazing.

    I bought WC3 maybe a week after it was released, after trying it for about half an hour at a net cafe. My friends were all amazed that I was willing to spend so much money on a game after only trying it for that long (we were all 12 so it was quite expensive at the time), but they all eventually bought it and I ended playing WC3 til I was about 20.

    That is eight solid years of fun. I played the campaigns several times each, I played competitive multiplayer (mostly 2v2) and hours and hours of custom games. Tower defences, Battleships, Footman Frenzy, Enfo’s, weird RPG style maps, anything, really. I never really got into DOTA, as I couldn’t stand the community that played it, but I dabbled now and then.

    Possibly a lot of hype to load onto a new game, and I don’t really like SC2 (too fast for me), but I’d buy this for the campaign alone. Hopefully they don’t release a new campaign for each race over the years, the wait would be unbearable.

  19. SomeDuder says:

    Yea yea yea, WC4, WoW, whatever. But that classic Battle.net page hit me right in the nostalgia-sack, goddamn, a genuine blast from the past. Its just fantastic to look at.

    k thats all bye

  20. SaintAn says:

    ” A new Warcraft RTS would need significant system changes to do the same.”

    You really should check out the game again because that’s wrong. I’m currently replaying WC3 and it plays even better than Starcraft 2 and other recent RTS games. Just got through the Undead campaign and am 3 chapters into the Orc campaign. It held up to time really really well and is still extremely fun to play. The graphics don’t even look bad either because it’s cartoon style which is known to hold up against time. The cinematics are a bit ugly now, but they remastered them a while back so they look good again if you tab out and watch the remastered version every time one plays.

    Loading up 4 meat wagons full of corpses and sending them to the front of a base with a large group of necromancers to rez up a huge army to wreck shit is still fun.

    Now Warcraft 1 & 2 could use some remakes and editing of the story.