Unusually under the circumstances, neither game had an announced release date. Can a game still be delayed if we didn't know when it was coming out? Yes.
Both Diablo 4 and Overwatch were presumed to still be a long way off. Asked when OW2 was coming out after it was announced at BlizzCon 2019, then-game director Jeff Kaplan said "I don't know. I have no idea." Blizzard confirmed in February that Diablo 4 and OW2 would not be coming out in 2021.
Still, the announcement today brings clarity to the state of these blockbuster projects. Activision Blizzard said today that with new leadership in place at the company, "it has become apparent that some of the Blizzard content planned for next year will benefit from more development time to reach its full potential."
"While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 than originally envisaged," Activision Blizzard said in its financial presentation.
Teams on both games have made "great strides toward completion," but more development time will enable better long-term post-launch support. Unfortunately, there's still no sign of a launch date for either game, but Activision Blizzard said the change will "push out the financial uplift" it had expected from them next year, meaning that we shouldn't expect to see either of them until sometime in 2023 at the soonest. Having been previously pushed back from a presumed 2021 release, fans were expecting Overwatch 2 to finally come in 2022. Meanwhile, the original Overwatch will receive no new heroes until its sequel is out.
Blizzard president Mike Ybarra went into greater detail in an investors call, saying that the delays were prompted primarily by the recent leadership changes throughout Blizzard. "Looking at our upcoming releases across all of our teams here at Blizzard, we have deep benches of veteran development talent, and we have new leadership on both Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4," he said.
"The teams have made great progress and passed important milestones recently, and we expect these to be fantastic releases. But there's obviously been a change in leadership. We looked at what we left in the final phases of production with fresh eyes, and we saw that allowing the teams more time would enable both great experiences at launch, and also help ensure that everything will be in place to engage the communities for many years to come."
Overwatch game director Jeff Kaplan (opens in new tab) left Blizzard in April 2021, followed by executive producer Chacko Sonny (opens in new tab) in September. Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga departed in August in the wake of a lawsuit alleging widespread discrimination and sexual harassment at the company; he was replaced by Joe Shely (opens in new tab) in October.
Interestingly, while Overwatch 2 has been pushed back, Blizzard also confirmed today that the next season of the Overwatch League will run on an early build of its next 5v5 competitive multiplayer mode.