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A quick look back at three previously announced Blizzard games that got canceled


As part of Microsoft's decision on Thursday to lay off 1,900 team members in its gaming division, the company also decided to cancel the development of the previously announced unnamed survival game at its recently acquired Blizzard Entertainment division.

Many long-time Blizzard fans were likely disappointed by this announcement, but they may not have been all that surprised. Blizzard has announced and then unceremoniously canceled some major in-development games over the years. We decided to look back at the three biggest canceled Blizzard games.

Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans

warcraft adventures

The mid-1990s was perhaps the biggest ever for the point-and-click adventure game genre, with publishers like LucasArts and Sierra Online releasing some of the best of these kinds of games. At the time, Blizzard wanted to see if they could be successful with the adventure genre like they had been with the RTS game (Warcraft) and action RPG (Diablo).

The decision was made to move forward with such a game and to make it a spin-off of the Warcraft series. Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans would let the player assume the character of Thrall, an Orc raised as a slave by a human to become the ultimate warrior. The game would have shown Thrall's journey away from his human master to go out on his own and discover some secrets about the Orc race.

Blizzard started developing the game in late 1996, and while it was in charge of the overall design, the actual art and programming were handled by a company called Animation Magic. The game was supposed to be released in late 1997, but California-based Blizzard encountered issues with working remotely with Animation Magic, who had team members in Boston and Russia (remember, high-speed internet was not everywhere back in those days).

In early 1998, Blizzard brought in Steve Meretzky, the legendary adventure game designer who had created titles like The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for Infocom in the early 1980s, to help redesign some elements of Warcraft Adventures. However, as the game's producer, Bill Roper, told GameSpot in an interview, it just was just not coming up to Blizzard's standards:

I mean we worked on the project for well over a year and had poured a lot of time and effort into it. But we knew that it wasn't going to meet the expectations of anybody here and certainly not the expectations of our fans.

Blizzard announced just before E3 1998 that it had decided to cancel Warcraft Adventures. At the time of its shutdown, the game was almost complete. Indeed, in 2016, the nearly done version was leaked on the internet but Blizzard quickly shut down those downloads. The game's main storyline still survived as part of the many plotlines for Warcraft III.

Starcraft: Ghost

starcraft ghost

Like Warcraft Adventures, Blizzard was looking to expand another one of its big game franchises, the RTS game Starcraft, in a new direction. First announced in September 2002, Starcraft: Ghost was revealed as a third-person shooter-stealth game. It was also supposed to be Blizzard's first game, which was developed primarily to be played on game consoles.

Here's the description from the first press release:

In StarCraft: Ghost, players take the role of Nova, a lethal Ghost operative skillfully trained in the arts of espionage and tactical combat. Twenty years of ruthless physical conditioning and techno-psychological instruction have made Nova a being of terrifying potential. With the help of a determined group of allies, players follow a series of story-driven missions, engaging in a deadly mix of planetary battles and dangerous solo operations. To complete their mission objectives, players must execute intelligent tactical decisions while mastering an advanced arsenal of sophisticated weaponry.

Again, like in Warcraft Adventures, Starcraft: Ghost would be co-developed by another company. At first, that was to be Nihilistic Software. However, in 2004, it was announced that Nihilistic was no longer working on the game. Later that year, Blizzard hired and then acquired another developer. Swingin' Ape Studios, to help complete the game.

In March 2006, three and a half years after it was first announced, Blizzard said Starcraft: Ghost was being indefinitely postponed. It would be several years after that before Blizzard finally admitted the game was canceled. Once again, like what happened in Warcraft Adventures, elements of the storyline created for Starcraft: Ghost would be used in Starcraft II, with Nova's main character showing up in some campaigns and even in her own DLC pack. In 2020, footage from a leaked Xbox build of Starcraft: Ghost hit the internet.



In 2004, Blizzard had their biggest game release to date with the launch of its massive multiplayer game, World of Warcraft. So naturally, the developer wanted to see if lightning could strike twice. In 2010, after a leaked Blizzard roadmap for the next five years showed a project called Titan hit the internet, Frank Pearce, at the time a senior vice president at Blizzard, admitted in an interview with Destructoid that Titan was indeed the code name for the developer's next MMO title. He stated:

It's our next-gen MMO, and we've only started talking about it in a limited fashion because we want to leverage the fact that we're working on something like that for the purpose of recruiting--getting some of the best talent in the industry on that.

Unlike Warcraft Adventures and Starcraft: Ghost, Blizzard kept the development of Titan pretty secret. There was never an official press release about the game, and Blizzard team members simply said over the next few years that it was in development but little else.

In September 2014, Blizzard admitted it had canceled the development of Titan, which reportedly had been in the works for almost seven years (sound familiar?). In an interview with Polygon, Mike Morhaime, the CEO of Blizzard at the time, said:

We didn't find the fun. We didn't find the passion. We talked about how we put it through a reevaluation period, and actually, what we reevaluated is whether that's the game we really wanted to be making. The answer is no.

While the game was indeed canceled, Blizzard decided to use some of that game's assets and ideas and put them into an all-new project. That game turned out to be Overwatch, a multiplayer-based team shooter that was released in May 2016.

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