Opinion: Is Blizzard creatively bankrupt?
We’ve recently seen a lot of rehashed content come out from Blizzard, so it might be time to ask a difficult question.
Blizzcon happened a few days ago and it was once again time for Blizzard to show what they had in store for this year. However, if you pay attention you might notice that a significant portion of the content Blizzard is releasing nowadays is working off what they already have, or delving back into the past to find ideas there instead. This leaves a simple question: where is the creativity and new content?
BlizzConline was Blizzard’s answer on how to hold a convention when mass gatherings are simply not allowed. Whilst it may not have had the same spectacle one is used to from Blizzard, they put in a valiant effort to try and at least replicate some of the magic. There was a whole slew of announcements: the first major patch in the new World of Warcraft expansion, alongside The Burning Crusade making its way to Classic servers. Besides that Overwatch 2 Behind The Scenes content was shown. The rest consisted of Hearthstone and Diablo updates, and some extra additions to the Blizzard Gear Store.
— Blizzard Entertainment (@Blizzard_Ent) February 19, 2021
Old content, released again
What really is the deal with all the old content though? A lot of people are ecstatic about it, of course. Nobody is complaining about being able to relive childhood sentiment when they fire up WoW Classic for example. Despite that, it makes it feel as if Blizzard is running out of ideas. The same can be said about Overwatch, where instead of something entirely new being added to the existing game, the second version of the game gets released. The core stays the same and the content feels rehashed and almost even like a cash grab.
— Blizzard Entertainment (@Blizzard_Ent) February 20, 2021
It is also important not to forget that releasing or reworking old content is not always a sure-fire way to success. With a game like Warcraft III: Reforged, it went dramatically bad. It absolutely failed on launch, littered with bugs upon bugs or core features missing. That showed a certain lack of quality control coming from Blizzard, a sentiment that has been present for a while now. It absolutely did not help the feeling long-time Blizzard fans had; it feels as if the company is putting in less effort. People are now hesitant to put trust in the Diablo 2 rework as well. Fans are not as supporting of Blizzard as they once were.
What about the fans?
With the mistakes Blizzard makes and the crutches it is grabbing onto at times simply faltering, the fan support is also dropping. People are starting to get more and more disillusioned with how Blizzard is doing. A turning point that might be indicative of this was Mike Morhaime stepping down. Being one of the original founders of Blizzard that was perhaps still “holding the line” so to speak, he stepped down on October 3, 2018. Whilst he remained in an advisory capacity for about half a year, many felt that it was too little too late. It was after his leave that it felt like Activision really put both hands on the wheel that steered the Blizzard ship.
Very sad to hear about the closing of Blizzard’s office in Versailles, France. I want to thank everyone who poured their hearts into supporting and representing the European Blizzard community for more than 15 years. You were part of something very special. https://t.co/zfT5oKOtJX
— Mike Morhaime (@mikemorhaime) October 7, 2020
Instead of Blizzard being an equal half in the partnership with Activision, it feels more as if they are a subsidiary. Something Activision wants to keep draining for cash until it is practically bled dry and there is little to nothing left. There is an overall sentiment that the spirit of the original Blizzard has left the building, and that the players are no longer being listened to. People on Reddit cry out and are exhausted of Blizzard taking the superior position and simply disregarding the wishes of the fans that have been supporting the franchise for years.
The future of Blizzard
It is important to ask where this will all lead. Older content will run out eventually, creativity cannot stay at a standstill. Blizzard also cannot keep letting the fans down, or working from its self-claimed superior point of view. If projections for the subscriber count of World of Warcraft are to be believed, even accounting for the increase in players with worldwide lockdowns, there needs to be drastic changes. Blizzard can no longer be milked purely for its gains, there is a need for a new, refreshing wind and also listening to what the majority of the fans want. Otherwise it will slip into the annals of history as a company that stayed in its comfortable position but did not move along with the tide of progression, to eventually fall into irrelevance.
— Bobby Kotick (@BobbyKotick) October 29, 2020
The power to do this lies with the CEO, Bobby Kotick. The question remains though if he will go for profits or progress. With the trajectory Blizzard is on right now, it is (sadly) leaning far more to the (possibly temporary) profit side of things. At the current rate that could mean things will be far from the way they are now in ten years, if not less. A worrying perspective. Time will tell.
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