J. Allen Brack, President of Blizzard: “our games are ready when they are ready”

The video game publisher, which held its annual BlizzCon conference this weekend, has dampened the hopes of its fans by not communicating a release date for its next projects, Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2.

“The world doesn’t really need more bad games that come out on time. ” Behind this sentence by J. Allen Brack, that’s all we can feel. Reached by teleconference a few minutes after the end of the annual BlizzCon event, the CEO of Blizzard Entertainment refers, without citing it, to the game of Polish CD Projekt Red, the release of which was surrounded by problems of all kinds.

Far from being a simple sting to a competitor, the sentence appears above all as a welcome justification to apologize for a conference that many considered disappointing because it was too poor in announcements. Since 2005, the studio behind some of the most enduring video game franchises (StarCraft, Warcraft and Diablo) annually invites some 40,000 fans to Anaheim, California, for a show entirely and exclusively dedicated to its flagship games. After having canceled the 2020 edition for obvious health reasons, Blizzard wanted to organize the 2021 vintage online.

If the publisher has unveiled several future content for different games, it has failed to provide what its players really expected: release dates (even approximate) for its two future headlines. Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4. In 2019, the studio unveiled them with great fanfare during said Blizzcon. A year and a half later, nothing concrete has been revealed about a broadcast schedule. It will soon be five years since Blizzard has released new products, the latest being competitive play. Overwatch.

Expansions and remasters

Instead, Blizzard announced the arrival of an expansion for its massively multiplayer online game. World of Warcraft, a dematerialized reissue of its very first games as well as the highlight of the ceremony: Diablo II : Resurrected, the HD remaster of a game released 21 years ago and which in its time made the publisher’s commercial and critical success. The game, which has not yet been announced a release date, will be available on next-gen consoles.

“We haven’t changed the currency: our games are ready when they’re ready, not before”, Blizzard CEO explains to Figaro. Was it necessary to suddenly maintain a virtual version of the event? “Yes, because we had announcements to make on other of our games: World of Warcraft and World of Warcraft Classic. Games that are fifteen years old but continue to bring together several million players every month. For us, even though these aren’t strictly new titles, we continue to treat their extensions like triple A’s. ” And with good reason: the eighth expansion of World of Warcraft, Shadowlands, sold 3.7 million copies on the day of its release last December. But this long tempo is a step back from a time when immediacy is king and money and player attention are coveted on all sides.

It is now for the publisher to keep its course and its DNA at the origin of its success after losing its historic leader, Mike Morhaime, in 2019 and through the same year a zone of strong turbulence. Activision-Blizzard (the parent company which brings together Activision, Blizzard Entertainment and King), then announced to lay off 8% of its workforce. Blizzard Entertainment, for its part, had separated from 800 people in the wake of a year of record profits – followed, last October, by the decision to close its branch in Versailles dedicated to marketing and customer service.

A sign that many had interpreted as the loss of control of Blizzard vis-à-vis its partner Activision. After this storm, the exit of Diablo IV and Overwatch 2 is therefore not just a simple commercial issue: it is also about the ability of this publisher to demonstrate that it still knows how to make successful games; good games that come out on time.

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