Where did Blizzard go?

warcraft 2What the heck happened to the company responsible for the Warcraft RTS games?  I was thinking about Warcraft Orcs and Humans, Warcraft 2, and Warcraft 3 today and the hair on my arms stood straight up — those games are ridiculously good; Dare I say they are downright epic.  I can still hear the voice in my head…  “The once mighty army of Azeroth lay among the blackened and charred remains of Stormwind Keep.”  The image of that orcish armada sailing across the great sea is burned into my memory.  I’m getting chills right now just thinking about it!

starcraft 2When I think about Warcraft back then compared to what it is today I am baffled by how badly Blizzard strayed off course.  When I think about ‘Warcraft’ why aren’t Footmen, Peons, Grunts, Gul’dan, and the Bloodlust top of mind?  Why can’t I think “yes me’lord, righto,” and “work work!”  Why do I think about arenas, raids, gear, and MMO mechanics instead?   Why has the direction changed to such an off-putting product strategy?

warcraft 3The same can be said for Diablo and Starcraft.  All of Blizzard’s properties are slipping.  I feel like Blizzard is so focused on ‘being Blizzard’ that their core competence has gone from making games to making headlines.

I’ve come to know a lot of the Blizzard team over the years.  Blizzard is a really good company with great employees, but you guys are losing sight of the mark.  You are losing your identity and forgetting what’s most important: The Games.

diablo 2As a true fan of your properties, I’m devastated by the direction you are going.  I appreciate the business side of things like eSports, and I know times have changed, but there used to be such a timeless perfection to your games.  I miss it, a lot.

Can you please bring back the spark, the magic, the zug-zug… that classic feel?  I think you know what I’m saying.


  • They don’t know how to make great games anymore. They make polished, by the numbers games. They get the best voice actors and art design teams. They have great marketing. They are a solid company, but they don’t make great games anymore. There best game right now is Starcraft 2, and as much as I LOVED the original…I can’t bring myself to play the new one.

    Diablo 3 was a massive disappointment. They watered it down with WoW mechanics.

  • What happened to them (much like Bioware and EA) is they have been slowly destroyed by their corporate overlords. Sadly they have joined my list of developers I used to love but no longer really care about their new games and it’s almost always something that happens after being bought out.

    I wish they could bring that magic back but I really don’t see it happening.

  • Keen,

    I would have to agree with you about Blizzard, I grew up on Warcraft RTS and Diablo 1 and 2. When I heard Diablo 3 was coming out it was an awesome feeling. I pre-ordered and was ready for my endless dungeon crawling to begin. However after playing through the game on Normal and Nightmare I just couldn’t bring myself to do it again on Hell. The magic that I feel playing D2 just isn’t there, I can’t quite put my finger on it but something is missing.

    I do still enjoy World of Warcraft but I take year long breaks from time to time and I am now just a casual player but I can’t seem to find another MMO that can grab my attention and keep it for more then a few months I have not tried Final Fantasy yet so we will see.

    Jon A.

  • Your right on the money man, its not about the games anymore its about the corporate money grab.

    Diablo 3 was a ginormous disappointment!

  • Isn’t that exactly what Blizzard is trying to do with Hearthstone?

    Take a complex, popular game (MtG); simplify it and smooth out the learning curve; add a tonne of user interface enhancements and Voila! Blizzard game

  • The for-profit company that once made $50 games (not more frequently than every few years) that people are still playing 10 YEARS later with no additional revenue to the company is now in the business of being paid $15/month per account (some customers and households have more than one, remember single-CD Key LAN parties) every single month? Gasp!

    RTS players can have that level of quality back when there’s a model to pay for it – see League of Legends.

  • @Mesar: I don’t know. The argument could also be made that Blizzard’s strategic business unit saw an opportunity to make a free to play game that profits off the popularity of its biggest IP.

    @Green Armadillo: If Blizzard announced Warcraft 4 and truly released a successor to Warcraft 3 they would sell millions and millions of copies. They could then focus on releasing expansions, growing the tournament play, and make creative choices like integrating it with yet another Warcraft product (like if a Warcraft console game launches). Monthly subscriptions and F2P aren’t the only ways to make money — we just need business people to get creative again.

  • I honestly don’t get why people think Starcraft 2 is along the lines of the other 2 IP’s in regards to how the games have gone, at least gameplay wise. I personally have felt since it came out that it was a good successor to the original and broodwar, both in single and multiplayer. I love the wings of liberty and the heart of the swarm campaigns, I feel like they both have the same epic feel of the original, though as was pointed out back when HotS came out there is quite a few times mission I never felt that detracted from it.

    The only problem I have ever seen with starcraft 2 is that they split the campaign up into 3 full priced games. Which I don’t like and i get people don’t like, but I’ve never seen why gameply wise people say it’s a failure and compare it to D3 in that regard.

    Honestly, I feel like D3 is the only true failure they have released recently. WoW… I actually think was a good thing back when it came out, and when it came out it was what you expected from a blizzard game. That’s why it’s survived for so long… would I rather they have done warcraft 4 as another RTS? Hell yeah. But I still think WoW was worthy of being a blizzard game when it came out and aside from the money grabbing part of it so is starcraft 2. Just… not D3.

  • Gotta say I completely disagree with this. Not only do I think Starcraft 2, Diablo 3 and WoW are all great games, Blizzard is about to release yet another game which has received almost unanimous praise. Of course I still adore the old Warcraft RTS games, but they are still there to play whenever I want.

    Then you get the people who are complaining, including this post and its comments, making very vague and nebulous remarks. “The magic is gone” “Where is the classic feel?” “You know what I mean” “Dumbed down”, “something is missing”, etc. What exactly do people want from Blizzard?

    I don’t know what particular axe people have to grind exactly, but it seems like bashing Blizzard is the new thing that everyone loves doing.

  • The whole thing is mostly subjective — not entirely, but mostly. I respect that lots of people will disagree. Yeah, ‘the magic is gone’ is nebulous. I find it hard to explain what makes Starcraft amazing but Starcraft 2 a slight disappointment. I can point to numerous design mistakes in D3, though. That one is obvious.

    WoW started off just fine. Factually, WoW’s trajectory completely changed as Blizzard began to change. WoW started as an extension of the Warcraft brand, but now I can’t even see the ‘Warcraft’ (maybe that’s nebulous too?) in there at all. WoW stands for numbers, dollar signs, and mechanics now.

    I can only speak to my personal belief that the games aren’t as good as they once were. I feel like the company isn’t focusing on the same values it used to. Alex up above is right: They make polished games. Turns out there’s more to making a great game.

  • E-Sports has nothing to do with it :p tis not the first time you’ve used E-Sports as a negative.
    WoW and D3 are not E-Sports and have never been marketed as such that I know off.

    E-Sports are great for games, they force balance and positivity improve accessibility (as opposed to the mass dumbing down of non E-sport games) as the games have to be understandable and easy to watch for the viewers, whilst being hard enough to master that you can have a ‘pro’ tier and any balance errors will result in a dead game very fast

    SC2 is an E-Sport, and whilst not as popular (%viewers wise) a lot of that is down to an expanding market more than bad game design, as for its decline in popularity with non E-Sport fans, that’s simply because its near identical to every other RTS released since the genera became a genera

    WoW and D3 are not E-Sports, They simply suffer from the current marketing stratagy of mass appeal/mass retention wich results in bland games

  • I think most triple A developers aren’t as worried about innovation as they are polish. Innovation is risky for such a huge budget game. However I don’t think that Blizzard has lost all of it innovation I just feel they are putting it to stuff we aren’t seeing. Titan is still in the works. Hearthstone is a different direction for them, and WoW while not outright building the next MMO is experimenting slightly with ideas like pet fighting and different mini games and making the game more and more accessible to all gamers perfecting their formula.

    Yes in their biggest most recent title I would have loved to see more outright stealing from newer better games in the same genre. D3 could have learned a lot from simply looking at what torchlight and PoE have done that have made them successful.

    Overall prior to D3s launch I believed the company was untouchable. If it says anything overall about the game industry is that one bad launch can truly dishearten your core fan base.

    I still though have faith they will make the games better as they always have.

  • eSports isn’t outright a negative thing. When Esports dictates design, however, I would say that is definitely a potential negative. I don’t want balance and product strategu dictated by a dozen people sitting on a stage fighting to earn money while others watch them for pleasure.

    Blizzard absolutely altered the entire direction of WoW when they started focusing on arenas and raids. No one can deny that. World of Warcraft wasn’t about Warcraft anymore. In my opinion (opinions are subjective), that direction was the wrong one. I see them taking that wrong direction with several games. They designed D3 in the WoW mindset.

  • I was as big a fan as any of Starcraft and Broodwar’s single player campaigns. After waiting over ten years, Wings of Liberty felt like a huge slap in the face and was a big reason I didn’t even bother buy Diablo 3 and whatever the second Starcraft 2 game is called.

  • “If Blizzard announced Warcraft 4 and truly released a successor to Warcraft 3 they would sell millions and millions of copies.”

    And regardless of how good it was, millions and millions of people would bash it on the internets.

    I’ve played Blizzard games since the first Warcraft and any change in the quality of the games since then is tiny compared to the change in the quality of the audience, imho.

  • Oh I don’t know about that. One of Blizzard’s primary objectives when launching WoW was to change behaviors. They got people to play MMOs who used to make fun of people who play MMOs. If anything, they get credit for creating the change.

  • Not sure how you can so blatantly bash blizzard like that. The only thing you really said is that you want them to make traditional RTS games again and stop making multi million dollar producing games. Multi million dollar producing games that multiple million people play daily that is. I mean sure there clearly isn’t a true Warcraft 2 sequel yet, but that doesn’t really justify hating on blizzards other clear success’. I have a feeling you just don’t like how some of their games such as wow shaped the mmo genre. Which I would agree if that is the case, but blanket statements like you stated are a little harsh considering their overall success.

  • There isn’t any bashing or hating going on. I’m simply expressing my feelings about there being a disconnect between the Blizzard we saw 10-15 years ago and the Blizzard we see today. The product strategy has changed. The way they operate has changed. Their games are changing as a result.

    I respect the company. They make good products. I don’t agree with the direction.

  • I’m currently playing D3 on Xbox right now and loving the hell ata it. I didn’t play it at all on the PC so I’m playing it with a clean slate. I’ve read that the changes to the console version were the big reasons everyone hated the PC version. I’m not really sure, but what I do know is this has been my favorite Diablo yet.

  • Agreed, Keen. It used to be that you could blindly purchase a game from Blizzard, on release day, ’cause you knew it would be good. Now, after the huge “meh” of Diablo 3 and the direction WoW has gone, Blizzard is in the company of EA and Ubisoft: a game from them might be good but it probably isn’t. So, better to watch the reviews and wait for it to go on sale before possibly purchasing, thereby minimizing disappointment and cash wasted when the game ultimately sucks.

  • If you want to know the primary reason for the “change” you’re seeing.. look at the design budgets.
    That “classic” feeling you’re talking about still exists. It just exists in smaller, indie games.

    When you reach a certain level of cost, you simply can’t approach “games” as “games” anymore.
    Blizzard blows *millions* of dollars on it’s development cycles. They can’t afford a flop, so they refine, polish, market test.. they’re very very deliberate. Unfortunately, they lose some of that “magic” you’re talking about.

    It’s “Design by committee” vs “Design by visionary”. Sure, the committee turns out an inoffensive product that sells well.. but it’s not the quirky, timeless class often produced by a visionary.

    Money Keen. When games became big business, that’s when those making them were forced to change.

  • @Anon

    Blizzard can totally afford a flop. They made tons of money off each game, their name became synonomous with quality and the attitude that “well get it right or we won’t do it at all.” They’ve always been that way, NOW is actually when they are showing less polish, less playtesting, more design by committee ideas and tactics, and now is when they are starting to hemmorage their reputation.

    However they used to put so much polish, so much effort into their games, their games made money hand over fist, and their reputation was so good, WoW sold a bajillion copies on that insane reputation ALONE. Blizzard was a big name, and MMO’s were only maybe at a hundred thousand players to be successful? But nobody had Blizzards chops, and even they didn’t expect how many people would buy their game based on their name.

    They were one of the most respected names in the industry.

    Now they are not. Smart people raised eyebrows at the wow expansions, prudent people stayed away from SC2, and Diablo 3 is a cementing that blizzard now is not who they used to be.

    And I have said many many times Blizzard has been slipping for a long, long time, it’s good to see other people starting to actually acknowledge it. It’s like how Bioware destroyed their entire reputation and are now working incredibly hard on dragon age 3, because they know another flop will end them, despite having been so successful beforehand.

  • “Blizzard can totally afford a flop”

    Not a Blizzard shareholder I take it. A company losing money is a poor investment.

    As for “They’ve lost it”, Starcraft II is still one of the best selling RTS games of all time. Diablo 3 sold millions.
    Players might not have been happy in the long run, but they shelled out money.

    I’d stay blizzard still produces some of the most polished experiences in the business. They’re just moving away from what their original ‘core’ audience expects from them.

  • Starcraft 2 is NOT one of the best selling RTS games of all time. SC2 also does NOT have the following SC1 had (it’s considered an inferior game in the competitive circuit and its numbers have been dwindling). Diablo 3 sold millions… on blizzards reputation, which got crushed underneath the scorn of how bad and poorly executed it was.

    Earning money is not the same as putting out a good game. Earning money is not an indicator of success or long term viability. It is an indicator of short term viability, you need to earn money and keep respect from gamers to have a company that will last a long time.

    Blizzard also has not lost money, ever, at any point, even when discarding entire games for not living up to their standards. Especially with wow being the cash cow that it is, even with it’s lesser subscriber numbers.

  • Raids are not an E-Sport, they are long duration group activititys enjoyed by a completly different group of people
    Arenas are not an E-Sport, although they are closer to it than raids, they are the deathmatch style PvP that was heavily requested by the players in the days when the only PvP was Battleground pugs

    so im a tad confused