The last few months have not been kind to game studio Blizzard. Legal and cultural issues have caused everything from employee protests to executives leaving the company. While the lasting effects of these responses are yet to be seen, the more immediate effect is that two of the company's upcoming games have been delayed: Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4.
This delay is going to be a major disappointment for fans, who have been waiting for both for the past 2 years. Both titles were announced at BlizzCon 2019, with a planned launch window of 2022. Unfortunately, after the company's recent earnings call, we know this is no longer likely.
While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 than originally envisaged.
These are two of the most eagerly anticipated titles in the industry, and our teams have made great strides towards completion in recent quarters. But we believe giving the teams some extra time to complete production and continue growing their creative resources to support the titles after launch will ensure that these releases delight and engage their communities for many years into the future.
That suggests that we will need to wait until at least 2023 for both of these titles. However, this was not the only important piece of information revealed on the call. In addition to the delayed games, it was also revealed that Jen Oneal will be leaving her position of co-leader, as well as the company. This will leave Mike Ybarra as the only head of the company.
While the company itself is iconic and has created some of the longest-running franchises in the industry (Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo), the internals are not quite as beloved. For years, rumors of a toxic and dangerous work environment have existed within the industry. But, the reality of some of the horrible things that have happened within the walls of Blizzard studios was revealed this year. The revelations caused major backlash, from employees, gamers, and legislators alike.
As a result, several top executives and developers have left the company over the past few months, prior to Oneal's announcement. One of the most high profile departures was Jesse McCree, a developer whose effect on the company was enough that his name was applied to the cowboy character in Overwatch. Following the unpleasantness, and McCree's departure from the company, the character's name was officially changed to Cole Cassidy.
Or course, departures are just the beginning of the company's issues. Cultural issues like the "Cosby room" will likely cause permanent issues for the brand. No amount of changes internally is going to completely shake off the stink of its past. With that kind of history, maintaining and attracting great executives and developers is going to be a challenge. Without replacing the people who are leaving with talented people, the company will never be able to revive its image - and even less likely will it be able to release great new titles.