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Does Blizzard Have a Secret Diablo?

William Murphy Posted:
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People were expecting something huge from Diablo at BlizzCon 2016. And while we got news of the Necromancer (it’s awesome), and a Diablo 1 anniversary event (also awesome) we wanted more. We expected more. And it’s that lack of a bigger expansion or sequel to Diablo 3 that makes us believe there’s something bigger coming from Tristram.

So, does Blizzard have a secret? Of course, they do. There are always projects under wraps at the Irvine developer that we the public never hear about. But it’s the lack of big announcements at BlizzCon on the series’ 20th anniversary and some cagey answers during our interview that have us believing Diablo’s “Next Big Thing” is bigger than the Necromancer and the Darkening of Tristram combined.

I asked right off the bat to Rob and Wyatt on the D3 teams:

MMORPG: We’ve seen the job postings on Blizzard, is this project (Darkening of Tristram) the project you’ve been hiring for?

Rob: For Blizzard, we’re always working on something new, and we make it a policy not to talk about hires, transfers in the company, but I would say though that we’re so excited to get this guy (points to Necromancer) out on the floor and all of the other announcements we’ve been keeping under wraps.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that’s what I like to call an “artful dodge”. Wyatt and Rob are great guys, they didn’t even bother to lie as many other folks may have when faced with a question they could not answer.  I could be reaching, but I don’t think I am – if the hirings were for the Necromancer project, or the Diablo 1 project, they would have said so. I also want to note that Rob mentioned transfers, which is not something I asked about – likely referring to Tom Chilton’s move within the company to a “project down the hall” from Warcraft.

My second question to Rob and Wyatt was also potentially illuminating:

MMORPG: The second question would be, there was a time when Blizzard said there was at least two expansions possible for Diablo 3, but with this character pack not being a fully-fledged expansion, does that mean we’ll never see another full expansion for Diablo 3?

Rob: We don’t have any announcements to make now about anything beyond the Necromancer and the Anniversary patch. Really, our heads are down on 2017, because we’ve got so much we’re going to bring out in the next year, and that’s what we’ve been concentrating on.

To me, this means that we won’t be seeing another expansion anytime soon. Indeed, if they planned a full expansion for Diablo 3, they would have likely announced it and included the Necromancer as a part of it as they did with the Crusader’s addition. No, I think that we may get 1-2 Character Packs, new maps, and features for Diablo 3, but that’s about it.

Why? Well, because they’re quite likely working on a Diablo MMO behind closed doors. Blizzard’s made its millions by taking game types and refining them into nigh perfection. They never said they wouldn’t do another MMO, but rather that if they did it wouldn’t be anything like WoW. Overwatch took the “Hero Shooter” and refined it the way WoW refined the MMORPG. Diablo 4 at this point would likely be “more of the same” and must be either very much like Diablo 2 to appease fans or it would be more like Diablo 3… which we already have.

No, the next logical step for the Diablo series is to make it more like an actual MMORPG. And if you look at the MMO landscape right now and what’s coming for the East – it’s all Action RPGs with MMO trappings. Thing is, none of these games (minus perhaps Lineage Eternal) have the IP or cash flow to make a real go at achieving a worldwide ravenous audience like the Blizzard name and pocketbook does. We may not hear about it for two or more years yet, but mark my words – Diablo the MMO is coming. And when it does, it’s going to be on consoles and PC and everyone will be playing it.


William Murphy

Bill is the former Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He's been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.