Blizzard Entertainment did not have the best 2021: The studio faced allegations of sexism and harassment, past and present, while leadership positions were shuffled and major projects were delayed. Studio head Mike Ybarra commented at the start of 2022 about the efforts being made to rebuild trust in the studio, and the weeks since have seen nuggets of gaming news that are clearly designed to reassure fans that Blizzard is still a big player.
The studio revealed last week (opens in new tab) that it's working on a brand-new survival game set in "a whole new universe," and is looking for help to make it happen: a "new IP for PC/console," set in "a world different from any other Blizzard has created."
Now another job listing has appeared for 'Lead Content Designer—Unannounced Project (opens in new tab).' The most interesting part of the ad is this requirement: "Champion a clear vision for mechanically and narratively interesting missions within an established Blizzard IP."
So: It's not the survival game, nor is it one of the sequels we already know about (Diablo 4, Overwatch 2). It's an established Blizzard IP so that leaves Starcraft, Warcraft, and the Lost Vikings. The big clue, however, may be in the small print: This senior role comes with overall responsibility for the new game's narrative experience and will "lead other designers to craft a framework to support replayable narrative content."
I mean, it could be Starcraft. But "a framework to support replayable narrative content" seems such an MMO-like line, or at the very least live service, that something about this suggests Warcraft to me: And it's worth bearing in mind that, while World of Warcraft remains hugely successful, it is also 18 years old. And Grand Theft Auto fans think they have it bad.
Of course, if it's a Blackthorne RPG I stand corrected.
The wider picture is that Blizzard has been having a bad time—but now, after Microsoft announced its intention to purchase Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion (opens in new tab), has suddenly started giving people something to be excited about. The studio has been in the headlines for the wrong reasons, and now wants to start reminding folk why it is loved in the first place. With Microsoft almost certain to take control in a year's time, you can see why.