Blizzard CEO would love to see WarCraft 4 one day, but 'that is not our current focus'

The company is committed to evolving Heroes of the Storm and StarCraft 2 for the foreseeable future.

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In Game Informer's December issue, Blizzard Entertainment CEO Mike Morhaime told the magazine that fans shouldn't expect WarCraft 4 anytime soon.

"We love RTS games but right now our focus is still continuing to evolve StarCraft II—and to the extent that MOBA games are RTS—continue supporting and evolving Heroes of the Storm," Morhaime said in an interview (via GameSpot). "I love that there is so much passion and interest around Warcraft IV. I would love to see Warcraft IV at some point in the future, but that is not our current focus."

Blizzard released WarCraft 3: Reign of Chaos in 2003. An expansion pack, The Frozen Throne, followed one year later. 2004's World of WarCraft picked up the story, leaving many fans wondering where a fourth WarCraft real-time strategy game would fit in the series' chronology.

Another factor involved in Blizzard's decision to hold off on developing another WarCraft RTS could be the decline of RTS popularity. The original StarCraft, released in 1998, was one of dozens of well-designed strategy titles competing for attention and dollars. Even then, it was considered a staple of esports throughout the 2000s.

StarCraft 2 has gone through peaks and valleys. MOBAs like League of Legends and DOTA 2 eclipsed it in professional-level prize money and Twitch views years ago, and the upper echelon of professional play became so cutthroat that players migrated to more accessible titles such as League. Classic RTS titles such as the StarCraft games demand that players juggle base management, resources, and armies; MOBAs boil down play to combat and tactics.

Views on streaming networks such as Twitch speak for themselves: in July, Xfire reported that League of Legends had almost double the number of gameplay hours as any other game tracked on its platform (via IGN).

StarCraft 2: Legacy of the Void—the third and final chapter in the series—sold 1 million copies on launch day across retail and digital. While an impressive stat, it's small potatoes to the money Blizzard pulls in from its microtransaction-heavy games such as Hearthstone, which earns $20 million a month (via Game Rant).

Game Informer touched on other topics with Morhaime, including Blizzard's interest in broadening its catalog of mobile titles following the success of Hearthstone.

"I think we are always looking at everything. We play a ton of games here, and we're always brainstorming new ideas. I think that still people haven't really figured out what the killer app for mobile is. I think there's a huge opportunity there. We certainly have so many people with these powerful gaming devices in their pockets that they are walking around with every day. I feel like there's a lot of unexplored ground still."

Sources: Game Informer, GameSpot, IGN, Game Rant

Long Reads Editor
From The Chatty
    • reply
      November 7, 2016 1:55 PM

      given how Starcraft 2 and the RTS market has played out vs MOBAs I think it'd be pretty hard to justify a true Warcraft 4 at this point. Obviously it would still be successful but the opportunity cost makes it look like such a bad idea.

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        November 7, 2016 2:01 PM

        we'll see how dawn of war 3 goes

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          November 7, 2016 2:06 PM

          the calculus looks different for different companies and IP. Like I said, there's some success to be had with an RTS that's well executed. But what's the ceiling? Does Relic have a real opportunity to do something bigger with the 40k license? They don't have the money to compete with the big boys in eSports, they're relatively small and undiversified so risks are more dangerous. DoW represents a known quantity where they can look at the sales of 1 and 2, project 3 will generate X, and then budget appropriately. It's unlikely that X is say 10x of 2 though.

          Whereas Warcraft is an immensely valuable IP now. Blizzard has bigger goals than making an RTS that sells say 5m copies. At this point that's a paltry result for a Warcraft IP (between WoW, Hearthstone and the movie) and it would come at an immense cost if Starcraft 2 is any indication (essentially like 8+ years of dev work to finally finish it?).

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            November 7, 2016 2:11 PM

            is esports success essential to the future of any RTS game, let alone warcraft 4? I highly doubt dawn of war will ever see a tournament stage

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              November 7, 2016 2:15 PM

              right, that's what I'm saying. An RTS like that has a low ceiling, which isn't to say it's necessarily a bad bet. It can be a financial success but it's incredibly unlikely to represent a bet with very high upside. Hearthstone and HotS represented bets with very high upside. Warcraft being so valuable an IP should be applied to something with similarly high upside (where there's some chance, albeit small, of the game being a market maker or breaking out of the mainstream, etc). A RTS locked into PCs with little eSports support has no chance of being that. And that's probably fine for Relic and the 40k license, but it feels a bit of a waste for a company with Blizzard's ambitions and resources and Warcraft's value.

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          November 8, 2016 7:25 AM

          uggghh... DoW3. Was hyped til I saw the gameplay videos.

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        November 7, 2016 2:17 PM

        I went into this argument in my article. I agree with you. StarCraft 2 has been profitable, but within the context of the contemporary RTS market. The game makes pennies compared to games like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm.

        We've likely seen Blizzard's last RTS, at least for a long time.

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          November 7, 2016 2:20 PM

          yeah, it's sad, as I loved all the Blizzard RTS games since Warcraft 2 (some of my earliest gaming) and Starcraft 2 was the first one I really attempted deliberate practice at to become something more than a casual player but the reality is it's just not a great market to be in right now. Not only can I not fault a company for staying out of it, if I were king I'd be actively advising them to avoid it. Maybe one day in the future with tooling improvements making a multiplayer centric RTS will be cheap enough to be more justifiable (sort of like the 90s CRPG renaissance we've seen from Kickstarter)

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          November 7, 2016 2:21 PM

          I'd settle for a Warcraft 3 remaster/overhaul.

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            November 7, 2016 2:22 PM

            the irony is that Warcraft 3 in many ways looks more modern in design than Starcraft 2 with its focus on hero units bearing a closer resemblance to MOBAs

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              November 7, 2016 2:26 PM

              That's cart before the horse. MOBAs resemble Warcraft 3, not the other way around

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                November 7, 2016 3:47 PM

                So many dota mechanics are side effects of the Warcraft 3 engine. No one would have invented them. Stacking, pulling, dropping items before doing something that gains health or mana, treadswitching, etc.

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                  November 7, 2016 3:51 PM

                  WC3 had some of the most important innovations in PC gaming, I totally agree.

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              November 7, 2016 2:31 PM

              Yeah. It's no coincidence that the MOBA genre sprang from War3.

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          November 7, 2016 2:25 PM

          Are RTS games in general fated to enter the wilderness that adventure games and space fighter sims went through until their recent resurgence?

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            November 7, 2016 2:45 PM

            I was about to say that space fighter is only resurged in niche, but Elite Dangerous was 10th on steam sales in 2015. So, I think on PC at least the more hardcore genres still have legs with the right execution.

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            November 7, 2016 3:04 PM

            If the Age of Empires/Rise of Nations guys get a crowdfunding campaign together for a spiritual successor to the aforementioned (leaning more on Age of Kings with historical campaigns) I bet it would succeed. But the timing would have to be right.

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            November 8, 2016 7:17 AM

            Depends on what you mean by wilderness, I think. There are so many more and more talented independent developers now as compared to the late 90s and early 00s that I doubt any genre will really disappear. It seems there will always be someone making a game of a certain type. But AAA RTS? Yeah, probably dead for a long while.

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          November 8, 2016 7:02 AM

          Is Heroes of the Storm a big earner? I was under the impression it was floundering a bit. The "please play HoTS" Overwatch rewards they announced at Blizzcon seem a bit desperate.

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        November 7, 2016 2:34 PM

        I'm curious to see if they would try to do something else than a RTS with warcraft 4. Warcraft 3 was supposed to be more like an rpg at first.

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          November 7, 2016 2:52 PM

          Maybe they'll proclaim that world of warcraft and warcraft 4 are one and the same

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        November 7, 2016 2:38 PM

        I'd be way more interested in a proper Warcraft (or Starcraft, for that matter) RPG with some RTS elements rather than the RTS with some RPG elements that Blizzard has been doing.

    • Zek
      reply
      November 7, 2016 2:38 PM

      Warcraft 4 would be moderately successful I'm sure but probably not on the scale Blizzard wants from their AAA games. The demand for RTS games isn't really there anymore and Warcraft is widely known as an RPG franchise now. There's little value for them in rebooting the RTS side of it.

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      November 7, 2016 3:22 PM

      God damn I would kill for Warcraft 4. Warcraft (alongside the original Command and Conquer) are the games that got me interested in RTS's in the first place. I've always hated that WoW basically killed any chance there might have been for Warcraft 4 for so damned long.

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        November 7, 2016 3:23 PM

        I'd say Starcraft 2 had a bigger hand in that if you want to blame a Blizzard product

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          November 7, 2016 3:29 PM

          By the time Starcraft 2 came around, WoW had been around for 6+ years already. I blame WoW for killing Warcraft 4 because of its wild popularity taking the focus on that IP away from its RTS roots.

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          November 7, 2016 3:29 PM

          I don't think that's true. WarCraft 2 came out in 1995, StarCraft in 1998, and WarCraft 3 in 2002. There's not that much of a gap between any of those, just enough for Blizz to avoid letting one cannibalize the other. Diablo 1 and 2 filled space between RTS releases, plus SC1 and War3 offered something the same yet different: SC was more of a pure RTS, while War3 provided an interesting RPG/RTS hybrid.

          If you mean that SC2's protracted development cycle dampened chances for a WarCraft 4, I'd argue against that too. It used to be that Blizzard had one core RTS team, and that team went from War2 to SC to War 3 and then on to SC2. But the company is big enough that a different team could have worked on a traditional WarCraft title.

          No, MOBAs are to blame for the demise of SC2 in the eSports scene and RTSes in general. If Blizzard can't get an RTS in mainstream conversation, no one can (meaning no disrespect to the Dawn of War devs).

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            November 7, 2016 3:31 PM

            I agree that MOBAs are the main cause which is what I was alluding to by saying if you had to blame a Blizzard product. The issue isn't mainly that WoW made Warcraft too big to be used for RTS, it's that their other highly popular RTS IP proved that RTS just isn't somewhere you want to be anymore.

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              November 7, 2016 3:47 PM

              Ooh, yeah. I follow. I inferred from your thread that SC2 taking forever and a day to make impacted War4's chances. :)

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        November 8, 2016 7:09 AM

        The thing is Warcraft 4 could even happen with WoW. They should not just advance the storyline 10 years or even 100. Go 10,000+ years or more into the future.

        It lets you get far away from WoW as long as you have some good initial setup. You don't have to make it modern but technology should have advanced. You would have more machinery for example.

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      November 8, 2016 6:42 AM

      Warcraft IV will happen, they'll just wait until StarCraft II is pretty well done. As far as the story goes, they could easily set it up so that you play through core parts of the "WoW" story, on the way to something new. The world is so big, that they could make side stories that are just background pieces from WoW, that could even be featured *in* WoW in some way.

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      November 8, 2016 7:10 AM

      I just want a single-player WoW I can play with a controller.