Kotaku is reporting that Blizzard has canceled their Starcraft First Person Shooter game in order to focus resources on the unannounced Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2. The news comes from unnamed sources from Blizzard’s development team that were allegedly shifted from the FPS to working on the two other titles.
Here is a description of the game and the situation from Kotaku’s unnamed source at Blizzard.
The project, which was code-named Ares, was described to me as “like Battlefield in the StarCraft universe” by one of those people, all of whom spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to talk about the project. The team had built prototypes in which the player, as a Terran marine, could gun down Zerg aliens, and there were plans to experiment with playable Zerg as well. Although one person who saw builds of the game last year told me that it seemed like development progress was slow, a second said it came as “a massive shock” when Blizzard canceled it a couple of weeks ago. A third person said it was “looking quite good.”
Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 haven’t been officially announced by Blizzard who is presumably saving them for Blizzcon 2019 in November. The initial response to the unofficial announcement of Overwatch 2 has been overwhelmingly negative, with many fans expressing anger that Blizzard abandoned the first game so soon instead of updating it with new content and features. Overwatch players expressed their disappointment on Twitter.
When Overwatch was launched alongside Overwatch League, fans thought the game would follow the same model as Team Fortress 2 or Fortnite when it came to updates, bug fixes, and additional content. Overwatch was supposed to be an ever-evolving platform rather than a series of games.
Back in April, Game Director Jeff Kaplan announced several updates for Overwatch including a Storm Rising PVE event, new “feature content” and a potential Nintendo Switch version of the game. Fans were excited that Blizzard was starting to implement several features that the Overwatch community had long been asking for.
While fans are upset, Overwatch 2 may prove to be a smart business move for Blizzard. Overwatch is one of the more popular games in recent memory with Blizzard making over $1 billion in revenue one year after launch and amassing over 40 million players two years after launch. Despite its success, the fan base has been dwindling due to competitors like Apex: Legends and Fortnite as well as buggy, unbalanced mechanics that prevent it from being one of the more popular, competitive esports.
Popular streamer and professional Overwatch player A-Seagull outlined some of the issues in a YouTube video that has been watched over 2 million times.
A new game would allow Blizzard to fix all of balancing issues while renewing excitement for the franchise. Overwatch 2 is also rumored to have a PVE mode that Blizzard employees have described as similar to Valve’s Left 4 Dead.
Not everybody is upset with the decision. There were a few fans excited at the prospect of a new Overwatch game.
Blizzard released a statement on the matter saying “Knowing that changes or disappointments can happen doesn’t make it any less painful when we have to shelve a project or when an announcement doesn’t go as planned. We always make decisions about these things, regardless of the ultimate outcome or how things might be interpreted, based on our values, what we believe makes sense for Blizzard, and what we hope our players will enjoy the most.” Their statement hints at but doesn’t specifically confirm Diablo 4 or Overwatch 2 or the cancellation of the Starcraft FPS.
This is the second Starcraft FPS to be canceled before release. Back in 2002, Blizzard announced the now infamous third-person shooter StarCraft: Ghost that would star the Terran Ghost Nova. The game went through several public developer changes and delays before finally being axed by Blizzard in 2006.
While the prospect of a Starcraft FPS with Overwatch mechanics had fans excited, most of the outrage came from Overwatch 2. Fans were unaware the Starcraft FPS existed before the Kotaku article.
Blizzard hasn’t officially announced Overwatch 2 so there’s a chance it’s still a rumor. Fans will have to wait until Blizzcon to find out.