2022 was a bit of a mixed year for Blizzard. On the one hand, they finally shipped some new products in Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2. Diablo Immortal, on the other hand, was criticized for its overbearing monetization, and Overwatch 2 was largely seen as nothing more than a big update, rather than a full-fledged sequel. . However, Blizzard president Mike Ybarra has published a new blog under review for the new year, which is trying to make its role in 2022 as positive as possible. To be fair, Ybarra has some pretty impressive stats to brag about, like 12 billion hours of Blizzard games played in 2022 and 50 million new users (mostly because Overwatch 2 became free-to-play).
Much of the post also lays out ways in which Blizzard is seeking to improve its work culture following a series of lawsuits and other legal actions alleging widespread gender discrimination and sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard (with Blizzard being particularly implicated). Ybarra refers to hiring full-time positions dedicated to improving culture and being committed to taking a deep look at the mission, vision, and values on which Blizzard is built. Did these changes make a fundamental difference to those working at Blizzard? Hard to say without more information. Just a couple of weeks ago we heard reports that the Diablo IV team expects to have to crunch in order to ship the game on time in 2023.
Ybarra’s post also contained some interesting tidbits about the studio’s future. The most notable reveal is that Blizzard’s new dark fantasy survival game codenamed “Odyssey” is being helmed by Dan Hay, who has produced several entries in Ubisoft’s Far Cry series, including writing and directing Far Cry 5. Apparently, Team Odyssey has doubled in size and will continue to increase in 2023.
Meanwhile, Ybarra also confirmed that BlizzCon will be back, with more information arriving in early 2023. Whether that means a full in-person event or another digital showdown remains to be seen.
What do you think of the blizzard situation here at the end of 2022? Do you think 2023 will be a good year for Blizzard with the release of Diablo IV and more development of Overwatch 2 or are the studio’s problems running too deep?