Hey Blizzard, innovation doesn’t happen in the microwave (column)

At this year’s Blizzcon, the publisher (we’re talking about Blizzard, of course) again presented its innovations. WoW, Diablo 4, Overwatch 2 – but that’s not really new and that’s a shame.

Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo – Blizzard has set milestones in video game history with its series. With Warcraft 3 and both Starcraft parts, the sometimes most popular games of the real-time strategy genre were developed. Even after 15 years, World of Warcraft is still looking for its own kind and Diablo has been delighting fans for almost 25 years.

The Blizzcon 2021

After the 2020 event was understandably canceled due to the pandemic, there was at least one virtual blizzcon in 2021. We got more information about Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, moreover was the upcoming content for the “World of Warcraft” expansion Shadowlands presented. WoW Classic is expanded with Burning Crusade and with Diablo 2: Resurrecetd will provide a classic with a remake in the future. Of course, the obligatory pack of cards for Hearthstone was a must.

How was that in 2019?

The Blizzcon 2019 took place as usual so the convention and could be attended by fans. We got the announcement of Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4, moreover was the upcoming “World of Warcraft” expansion Shadowlands presented. WoW Classic has been expanded with new information and by Warcraft 3: Reforged, a classic that was remake in 2018it was unusually quiet. The disastrous release in January 2020 only suggests why. Of course, the obligatory pack of cards for Hearthstone was a must.

Well, what do you notice when you compare the two paragraphs above?

Often something new?

Before I get to my actual point, a quick disclaimer. Blizzard’s games are good, and many are really great. I return with joy to every WoW expansion, I recently launched Diablo 3 on the Switch and started it on the third platform. Warcraft 3 still shapes the picture at LAN parties and I also really enjoy playing Overwatch.

Blizzard not only knows how to create captivating worlds, but also how to combine them with good gameplay. The problem is: Somehow nothing really new is coming. You can already see from my little comparison of the two Blizzcons that it’s always about the same franchises. Maybe I’m a little picky, but Blizzard did Developed just one really new game in the last 20 years and that was Overwatch.

Everything else is sequels or remakes of Starcraft, Warcraft and Diablo. Hearthstone is at least a new genre, even if the game is based on the Warcraft universe. The same applies to Heroes of the Storm, the MOBA genre was a new path, but the heroes of the game come from the four major franchises.

Reading tip

Alexander Gehlsdorf04.09.2019

Why is Blizzard doing this?

The explanation should be known to most of you, nevertheless it belongs here for the sake of completeness. New ideas take time to develop, and it costs more money to make a completely new game than a sequel. In addition, the risk is lower. A series that players already like has less potential to fail and become a financial loss.

Innovation doesn’t happen in the microwave

Have you ever heard of groundbreaking new dishes, i.e. real taste explosions, coming out of the microwave? Of course not, because when things explode in the microwave, it’s just a mess. Remakes and remasters are really nice and bringing good games into this day and age is not a bad thing. However, Warcraft 3: Reforged has shown that it takes more than a good template. Simply warming up is not enough.

Another example is WoW Classic. So now Burning Crusade is coming back and the next expansion in two years? When does it stop getting classic? The classic Starcraft has already been remastered, Diablo 2 should follow this year. Will that end at some point or will we just start over as soon as the remake of The Lost Vikings is over?

Fear of failure

Like most studios, Blizzard has some unsuccessful project trash attempts. But many of them also came from the pool of Blizzard’s worlds. Such as Starcraft: Ghost, a stealth shooter announced in 2002, retired in 2006, and then officially phased out in 2014.

It was a completely new project the MMO Titan. It was supposed to be the next big thing after WoW, stayed in development for seven years and was officially discontinued in 2014. Parts of the game then went into the development of Overwatch, the only new game that Blizzard has released in the last two decades.

In the 90s and early 2000s there were other games that were sooner or later abandoned. examples for this are Nomad, Pax Imperia 2 and Shattered Nations. But this isn’t a history lesson. However, it is intended to show that the number of failed new projects has also decreased, from the foundation to the current point in time.

More courage

Blizzard relies on its four universes to power Remakes, remasters, sequels and genre spin-offs but always stays in the comfort zone. It’s not that good games don’t come out of it, but new milestones in video game history are hard to come by. MMO, real-time strategy, action RPG and hero shooter are the genres in which Blizzard has proven itself. Why doesn’t the company use this experience to create a new world, because developers can do that too.

The future of Blizzard

Big innovation is not to be expected from Blizzard for the time being, the biggest steps will probably be in the area of ​​mobile gaming and the well-known brands will also be found here.

I’m afraid Blizzard will find its schemes, a formula for good games, but not masterpieces. Just like Ubisoft does with its games. But that’s not enough for me. I want to climb the rankings of a strategy game again, I want to waste hours on a stupid tower defense map again and I want to conquer the new worlds of an MMO with a guild again. Most of all, I want Blizzard to give me that. Those who have proven so many times what great games they can make. Give me something new, give me something fresh, have the courage and don’t waste your potential before the passionate developers and creative geniuses no longer want to work for you.

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