Multiple sources have told Kotaku that Blizzard has pulled the plug on another StarCraft-based shooter which one of them described as "like Battlefield in the StarCraft universe."
The project, codenamed Ares, had been in development for two years and was far enough along that developers had built prototypes enabling players to attack Zergs as a Terran Marine. One source said development appeared to be coming along slowly, but others said it was "looking quite good" and that the cancellation came as "a massive shock."
This isn't the first time that Blizzard has tried, and failed, to set a shooter in its sci-fi RTS. A third-person stealth-shooter called StarCraft Ghost was announced in 2002 but put on indefinite hold four years later. Blizzard finally stated that Ghost was fully canceled in a 2014 interview with Polygon.
Similarly, Blizzard didn't acknowledge that this "new" StarCraft shooter even existed, much less had been canceled. In a statement sent to the Kotaku, Blizzard said only that it has multiple projects on the go that it doesn't talk about publicly "because anything can happen over the course of development."
"As has been the case at Blizzard numerous times in the past, there is always the possibility that we’ll make the decision to not move forward on a given project. Announcing something before we feel it’s ready stands the risk of creating a lot of frustration and disappointment, both for our players and us, not to mention distraction and added pressure for our development teams," Blizzard said.
"We pour our hearts and souls into this work, and as players ourselves, we know how exciting it can be to see and know with certainty that a new project is coming. 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. The work that goes into these projects – whether they ship or not – is extraordinarily valuable. It often leads to great things and helps foster a culture of experimentation here."
It may be coincidence, but David Gibson, a senior animator at Blizzard for four years, said on Twitter yesterday that he was leaving company after two years on a project that "you’ll never see." His Linkedin page also indicates that he's spent the last two years on an unannounced project at Blizzard, which fits the two-year time frame in the Kotaku report, although it doesn't point the finger at a StarCraft shooter.
Losing out on a StarCraft shooter—again—stings, but there are a couple of bright spots in all this. Blizzard employees told Kotaku that nobody will be laid off because of the cancellation, and that many of the people working on the project will be diverted to Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 instead.