With the announcement of Diablo 3 as Blizzards next major game release, and with a distinct lack of MMOness in the feature list for Diablo 3, there’s a whole new world of speculation ready to erupt.
My recent guess that Blizzard was going to use the Diablo IP as the basis for their next MMORPG missed the mark. It’s highly unlikely that a Diablo MMORPG will be developed concurrently with Diablo 3, especially since Diablo 3 is still probably a year to eighteen months away — I did read some speculation that the release would be Halloween 2009.
The same applies to the Starcraft IP. I believe Starcraft 2, while it hasn’t been given a release date, isn’t all that far off. I expect it to be out sometime before the end of the year. Given that Blizzard would want to make all the mileage it can on Starcraft 2, and that the original Starcraft is still very popular in some regions, it’s unlikely Blizzard will be working concurrently on a Starcraft MMORPG.
So where does that leave us?
Aside from the Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo franchises, Blizzard has produced several other IPs. (source: Wikipedia)
- RPM Racing — 1991
- Battle Chess II: Chinese Chess — 1991
- The Lost Vikings I & II — 1992 & 1995
- Rock n’ Roll Racing — 1993
- Shanghai II: Dragons Eye — 1994
- Blackthorne — 1994
- The Death and Return of Superman — 1994
- Justice League Task Force — 1995
Since 1995 — Warcraft was released in 1994 — the only titles that Blizzard has produced have been from their big three properties.
I honestly don’t see Blizzard returning to any of their old titles for inspiration for their new MMORPG. Well… maybe Rock n’ Roll Racing Online could be a goer, but then again…
I figure there are two possibilities.
The first is that Blizzard invents a totally new property. I can see this happening. After so many years working on the same three themes, the creative minds at Blizzard must be itching to work on a new concept.
The second possibility is that Blizzard will join forces with a group that owns an existing popular IP. There are plenty of options in this group ranging from comic books owners to movie franchises. Who knows, Blizzard might even be looking at the Star Trek license.
However, I’d put my money on Blizzard coming up with their own intellectual property. It’s a lot easier to make changes for gameplay reasons when you don’t have to run it past a bunch of IP lawyers, just look at the changes Blizzard has made to the Warcraft lore to suit the game. Blizzard is known for putting gameplay first and cutting features that don’t work. I can’t imagine them giving up control by licensing a heavily restricted property.
In any case I don’t expect to hear anything about Blizzards new MMORPG until a few months after the release of Wrath of the Lich King. And it’s very possible we won’t hear anything until after the releases of Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3.
One thing about the Blizzard organization — it’s really good at protecting its secrets.
Update: From the Internode Games Network — It looks like my expectation that Starcraft 2 will be out by the end of the year is also off target. Rob Pardo has stated at the Worldwide Invitational that the game is only a third done and won’t be out this year, though they’ll have something to show by end of year. So that’s the bad news. The good news, for Apple fans, is that there will be a simultaneous release on both Windows and Mac when it is finally released. A third done now, does that mean sometime in 2010?