During a recent earnings call, Activision Blizzard said that it doesn’t believe they’ll be able to launch Overwatch 2 or Diablo IV during 2021.
It’s likely that Blizzard has had to slow development on these games due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s uncertain exactly when massive game development studios will be able to return to full development.
For major studios like Activision Blizzard, COVID has put a massive obstacle in the way of future development by keeping developers from organizing in person.
Blizzard quality and what players expect
For a long time, the Blizzard name has been synonymous with impeccable quality. Blizzard brought gamers some of the best real-time strategy games ever made - Warcraft with its talented and dedicated mod community, and Starcraft with its skilled competitive scene, in addition to the single most popular MMO ever played, World of Warcraft.
Overwatch was a great addition to their suite of games. The hero shooters served as a spiritual successor to Team Fortress 2, but blended in a number of elements from popular MOBAs as well.
Overwatch released with incredible success, but lacking any kind of dedicated way to play casually drove out many players hoping to find a game they could relax with. Likewise, Overwatch has struggled to retain its viewership on Twitch, and competitive meta issues caused the game to stagnate earlier than planned.
It’s likely that these problems combined led to Blizzard deciding to move ahead with a sequel, though it might be a while before its release.
The other Blizzard franchise, Diablo, has seen its own fair share of up and down moments. Diablo II was the quintessential dungeon crawler for years, while Diablo III had a very troubled launch in part due to its real-money auction house. Over time, these problems were fixed, and updates to the game expanded on what players could do once they had beaten the main story line.
Although it took a while to get there, Diablo III eventually reached the expected Blizzard quality players had hoped for.
New Blizzard titles on the horizon
Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 may be more than a year off, but that time will be critical for Blizzard. Currently, the main issue is that while they were once dominant across multiple genres - RTS games, MMOs, and Dungeon Crawlers, but now, they have far more competition.
Blizzard can’t expect their games to become landmark titles just because they are functional, balanced, and have any amount of narrative attached to them. Many of the games Blizzard is now competing with were inspired by the likes of Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo.
Nevertheless, Blizzard has always had access to a highly talented team of game developers, and with enough time and effort, they can surely come up with something that brings back those initial levels of awe and appreciation.