A remake of 2000’s Diablo 2 has been in development, though the team now working on it is the former Activision subsidiary Vicarious Visions, which is now part of Blizzard Entertainment, Bloomberg reported this weekend.
The intrigue in Bloomberg’s report is twofold: First, that the Diablo 2 remake is in the works, and second, that the ramshackle launch of Warcraft 3: Reforged a year ago may have played a role in corporate leadership taking the remake, called Diablo 2: Resurrected, from Blizzard’s hands.
Blizzard’s Team 1 had been responsible for the Diablo 2 remake, but after an internal post-launch analysis of Warcraft 3: Reforged, Activision Blizzard took that project away from Team 1. Last week, Albany-based Vicarious Visions was merged into the development operations of Irvine, California-based Blizzard.
The dissolution of Vicarious Visions and its consolidation with Blizzard development was first reported on Jan. 22 by GamesIndustry.biz. GamesIndustry.biz also reported that Jen Oneal, the Vicarious Visions studio head, is now executive vice president of development for Blizzard and reports directly to Blizzard boss J. Allen Brack.
Bloomberg called the move a further consolidation of control over Blizzard by publishing executives of Activision Blizzard Inc. at large. Blizzard and Activision have been together since a 2008 merger that brought Vivendi Games, then Blizzard’s parent company, aboard Activision. Blizzard continued to work autonomously, developing games like Overwatch and World of Warcraft internally and largely remaining separate from Activision’s publishing realm of Call of Duty, Destiny, and other mega franchises.
Bloomberg reports that the 2018 departure of Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime “widely signaled the beginning of Activision’s takeover.” Two months after Morhaime left, Blizzard effectively shut down Heroes of the Storm and then, in October 2020, the company announced it was ending all development on StarCraft 2, which launched in 2010.
Both HOTS and StarCraft 2 were Blizzard Team 1 projects. StarCraft 2’s retirement was announced the same day that Team 1 was reorganized internally, Bloomberg said.
Warcraft 3: Reforged, a remake of the 2002 fantasy real-time simulation, was a critical flop, with most reviewers and players deeply disappointed in the prevalence of bugs and glitches and the absence of expected features. A week after its Jan. 28, 2020 launch, Blizzard apologized for Reforged’s launch state, promised that post-launch support would rectify the problems, and offered refunds to anyone unhappy with the purchase.