The legacy of Blizzard It won't be very broad, but it's really intense. And that's not a negative thing: the long support and constant expansion that Californians give to their games make their business model the exception in a world full of rules. Although of course, there is also the fact that they are not afraid to strike millionaire projects, even if these are almost about to come out of the oven. Too many, perhaps.
To put it in perspective, throughout its history Blizzard Entertainment has published 36 own video games, remakes and major expansions. From the brilliantly crazy The Lost Vikings from 1994 -when they were known as Silicon & Synapse– to very punished and recently released Warcraft III: Reforged. If we stick to news and sequels, we stay in 18 titles leaving -logically- the officially announced Diablo IV.
By cons, the number of canceled games is, as far as we know, about 10. Virtually one in three new projects. A very high number if we put it in perspective, which, logically, could be much higher: infinity of initiatives are born, remain indefinitely in a limbo and they disappear in the creative offices every year.
Something that J. Allen Brack, current president of Blizzard, is very aware of in one of his most recent interviews. for Forbes.
Speaking of canceling, you know, almost half of the projects – if we look at the past – almost 50% of the projects we started do. And you can imagine what happens with the other 50%. You may have heard of some, but not others, right? In the end, are we making the right decision? It is one of the challenges we encounter.
The funny thing is that, as we commented at the beginning, several of these projects were practically finished -or directly finished- and did not reach the shelves. Which makes us wonder what motivates us to throw away the investment of work, the production costs and all the time invested in them?
While there is no universal answer, at least it is possible to analyze case by case.
What we know about Games People Play and Denizen, the first canceled games
On the occasion of the 2008 edition of the DICE, held in Las Vegas, the co-founder and former president of Blizzard until not too long ago Mike Morhaime revealed a list with all the projects that the company had canceled to date. Some of them were officially announced, while others were revealed at the same time.
Of the first of them, entitled Games People Play, not much is known. Several specialized sites and databases, such as Mobygames, they define it as a puzzle and letter game in the style of crossword puzzles. The development and cancellation was in the early 1990s, prior to the bombing of the Warcraft original.
On Denizen if there is anything more information. According to statements by David stiller from Sunsoft to the book Stay Awhile and Listen: Book I about Blizzard's career, the project started up to two times: one in the time before Warcraft and another after having achieved success with the conflict between Orcs and Humans. In both cases development began but was never completed.
According to Stiller, Denizen it was a classic game Gauntlet that retained elements of fantasy and gave them an extra touch of depth. An experience of magic and swords that, in fact, even featured a prototype that used the well-known SNES mode 7. However, it never had the necessary funding to complete it.
Crixa, the top-down shooter of Qualia Games it never was
Not all games shown in the list of canceled games that Morhaime made official were developed in-house. An example of this was Crixa, whose idea and production was in the hands of a modest study known as Qualia Games which would eventually end up dissolved.
In the playable, Crixa offered a shooter in top-down in which we had to control ships in 2D environments, recovering elements of the classic Star maze Apple II, as well as game mechanics of titles like Rescue Raiders and Castle Wolfenstein. Of course, the level of detail was not bad: each ship had up to 32 types of rotation and elements such as a mobile base system were added.
The rise, development and fall of Crixa It was told (and illustrated) by Dave Seah, one of the studio's co-founders, through his own blog. The initial idea was to create a project that would allow them to expand their own graphic libraries and strengthen the creative process, from which they were born some of the screenshots and images that you can see below.
Luckily for the initiative, the commercial success of Warcraft ii It allowed Blizzard the possibility to expand by supporting small but promising projects that could be completed in a short time, closing a ten-month agreement with Qualia Games.
The bad news is that paid all the hazing of a new company at once: They were very fast if budget and without being able to continue paying the rest of the team and, to top it all, a game with similar characteristics had already appeared on the market.
As a result of the above, and in a complicated and highly competitive scenario, Crixa was canceled and Qualia Games dissolved. Of course, many of the members of the study, like Seah himself, retained the accumulated experience and ended up in other companies like Tiburon.
Shattered Nations, what could have been a Blizzard-style XCOM
Just a year after wiping out the Warcraft Originally, Blizzard took a completely different new strategy bet out of its top hat at E3 1995: Shattered Nations It led us to a post-apocalyptic dystopia in which, instead of learning new technology, the survivors in conflict discovered that of their ancestors. A total twist to the epic fantasy that was also played in turn.
In essence, it could have been a kind of XCOM produced by Blizzard at its most active stage. Or, at least, the one with the most open fronts. And not only that: Shattered Nations It had a launch date set for early 1996. Which, on the other hand, would end up taking its toll on the project.
Warcraft ii and the future of the saga became Blizzard's top priority, but not the only one.
Despite the official announcement, the initiative gradually deflated, migrating many of its developers and creatives to the new direction that the company was taking that same year, many of them integrating into the team of another strategy game called to make story: the first StarCraft.
Pax Imperia II, a sequel that passed briefly through the hands of Blizzard
While Blizzard's greatest value is its licenses, in the early 1990s and until the success of Warcraft those of California alternated own games, ports of known titles and the odd weight license like Superman wave League of Justice. Taking the reins of a strategy game already established during its first stage of expansion was neither madness nor surprise.
Thus, in March 1995 Blizzard itself announced that, along with Changeling Software
Pax Imperia II It was announced for the end of 1995 itself on Mac systems and PCs, later being delayed to 1996 and, finally, canceled due to the infrastructure limitations of the company itself at that time, according Allen Adham.
As a small company, we do not have enough resources to generate a dozen titles a year and, therefore, we are not prepared to launch a title other than A +
We spent a lot of time going over Pax Imperia II, and while it's a great concept and has a lot of potential, we just didn't feel like it was progressing as fast or as fast as we expected.
Finally, in August 1996, Blizzard would sell the rights to the saga THQ for continuity. And they did it: the new installment of the saga arrived in 1997 under the title Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain and by Heliotrope Studios.
Raiko, the Devil set in the Japanese mythology of Blizzard
Just like with Crixa, very little was known about Raiko until its name and illustration were shown in 2008. Luckily, its developers have hoarded some screenshots and ideas of what the project was about.
According to shared Felix Kupis (current producer at Magic Leap) in your Linkedin profile, Raiko It sought to follow in the wake of the successful Diablo by offering the player an ARPG in isometric perspective with two very significant advances: on the one hand it used a 3D engine and on the other it was set in Feudal Japan.
A kind of Devil with ninjas, samurai and, as seen in the few captures kept by Kupis himself, including Onis (Japanese demons) in which he even managed to establish an RPG-style progression system, as well as a level editor before being canceled .
The reason for the cancellation? Although not established, Blizzard was completely restructured at that time in order to shape its projects after the turn of the millennium, including the start of Warcraft iii (his first RTS with 3D graphics and role playing elements) and the beginnings of the development of World of Warcraft.
Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans, the germ of WOW
After the sudden success of Warcraft II, Blizzard wanted to fully establish its star license and its recent association with the group Davidson & Associates (or rather its integration) allowed him to make the first plans to expand the saga beyond strategy. However, before taking that huge pass they were to create and establish a Warcraft universe. And shaping a LucasArts-Sierra-style graphic adventure fit his plans perfectly.
The main idea was to continue the story of the strategy saga and, in turn, engage in a new main chapter in the history of Azeroth as Thrall, a powerful orc called to unify the clans again.
In practice, make a game of point & click It was not only a great idea, but they had facilities: Blizzard only had to deal with the story, design the puzzles, record the dialogues and supervise the artistic work developed by Animation Magic, which also belonged to the Davidson & Associates group.
Blizzard herself was looking to take on LucasArts on her own ground. The reality, on the other hand, is that despite Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans It was officially announced and in a big way in 1997, Blizzard was aware that publishing that game and the state it was in was not the best for the future of Warcraft.
The reasons were many and varied: their appearance paled against contemporary graphic adventures, their puzzles were not as interesting and the complex system of development between internal and external studios spread over three different locations (including Russia) made making changes an adversity real. Maybe it wasn't a commercial failure, but Lord of the Clans it was not the step Blizzard wanted to take.
In other words: Blizzard was a benchmark in terms of strategy, they were not really happy with the first graphic adventure they were doing. For this reason it was decided that, although it was already playable from start to finish, it would be better not to launch it on the market and, instead, give it a full redirect to the license:
- On the one hand, the lore created would be the starting point for the campaign of Warcraft iii, the next big installment in his hit series.
- On the other, its foundations and the universe of Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans would serve as the basis for creating World of warcraft, his most ambitious project to date.
We never got to see a graphic adventure of Warcraft -or at least, officially– but from his ashes all kinds of characters would also be born and new ways to enter the world of magic and fantasy, like the first official novels and alternative experiences. A clear example of what it's like to fall up and in style.
Nomad, what could be Blizzard's League of Legends
As we have seen, prior to Blizzard's major restructuring prior to the turn of the millennium prior to the turn of the millennium, the California company was considering many and varied ideas. One of them was a really peculiar project: an RPG action game with science fiction elements totally focused on team play. Your code name: Nomad.
Information on Nomad it is scarce, although its ideas pointed in a very similar direction to that of the current MOBAS. So why was it discarded? As J. Allen Brack and Frank Pearce of Blizzard would indicate During the Game Developer's Conference in Austin in 2009, the reasons for the cancellation were that, despite the work done, they realized that It was not the kind of game they wanted to play.
Despite everything, many of his ideas were transferred to Warcraft iii and its system of heroes, giving it that RPG component so successful and distinctive compared to previous installments. One that, on the other hand, would serve as a mold for the arch-unknown DOTA. The rest is already video game history.
StarCraft: Ghost the shooter that took 12 years to be canceled (officially)
While Blizzard's beginnings reflect the company's stupendous relationship with desktop consoles, for a time it was associated with its games and PC licenses. That was about to change with what was going to be his first shooter: StarCraft: Ghost it combined elements of action and shooting in the third person with infiltration, managing to expand and give more weight to the series in the same movement StarCraft.
The production of StarCraft: Ghost it was in the hands of Blizzard Entertainment and Nihilistic Software and was expected to hit the first Xbox, PS2, and GameCube in late 2003. The reality is that Blizzard was pretty opaque with the project in the years ahead.
In 2004 Swingin 'Ape Studios took over from Nihilistic Software in development and while StarCraft: Ghost He starred in a few sound absences in the events in which Blizzard participated, in 2005 he would return to heat up the atmosphere offering news and making it official that the GameCube version would not see the light.
Information would come with a dropper years later. On the one hand, it was indicated that production had been suspended indefinitely. Even in 2007 it was stated that Blizzard he resisted to give to StarCraft: Ghost by canceled, although they could not get it to the level they wanted.
Finally, the long-delayed announcement of the cancellation would come in 2014: Twelve years after his announcement, Mike Morhaime took advantage of the announcement that the Titan project was ruled out for confirm, already officially, that StarCraft: Ghost was no longer in development.
TITAN, or how Overwatch was born
In 2007, and after the enormous success of World of warcraftBlizzard launched into elaborate a great new MMO project with code name TITAN It coexisted with its fantasy world, distinguishing itself by adding elements typical of shooters and with a certain emphasis on class fighting.
According commented Mike Morhaime in 2018, the accumulated experience with WOW would be key to this new initiative, putting several of the top managers in charge of development and its departure was established for the third quarter of 2013. Three years later, the reality was very different: the project was fully restarted and its launch postponed to 2016.
Unfortunately, after a million dollar investment and more than 100 developers working on TITAN, the project had stalled and the signs of previous cancellations began to appear, such as beginning to be restrained in the resources or starting to distribute to team members in other initiatives. Jeff Kaplan, one of the people in charge knew how to see the signs and established an alternative plan.
Based on the combat system, many of the designs, and a good part of the setting, Kaplan separated a small group of developers and creatives to try to save as much of the project as possible. TITAN. As a result, a double announcement would be made at Blizzcon 2014:
Coincidence or not, Overwatch It would see the light in 2016 receiving a spectacular reception from the public and critics. Crowning itself as the best game of the year and prevailing as one of the most influential shooters of the decade, which are bigger words.
By extension, making Tracer and company new celebrities in the video game industry. After all, the world always needs new heroes.