2022 has been a bit of a mixed year for Blizzard. On the one hand, they finally shipped some new products in Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2. On the other hand, Diablo Immortal was criticized for its overbearing monetization and Overwatch 2 was largely seen as not much more than a big update, rather than a full sequel. Nevertheless, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra has posted a new year-in-review blog, which attempts to put as positive a spin on 2022 as possible. To be fair, Ybarra does have some impressive stats to boast about, like 12 billion hours of Blizzard games played in 2022 and 50 million new users (mostly due to Overwatch 2 going free to play).
Much of the post also details the ways Blizzard is seeking to improve its work culture following a series of lawsuits and other legal action alleging widespread gender-based discrimination and sexual harassment at Activision Blizzard (with Blizzard being particularly implicated). Ybarra points to the hiring of full-time positions devoted to improving culture and a commitment to taking a “deep look at the mission, vision, and values upon which Blizzard was built.” Have these changes made a material difference to those working at Blizzard? It’s 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 a few interesting tidbits about the future of the studio. Most notably, it was revealed that Blizzard’s mysterious new fantasy survival game codenamed “Odyssey” is being headed up by Dan Hay, who produced numerous entries in Ubisoft’s Far Cry series, including writing and directing Far Cry 5. Apparently, the Odyssey team has doubled in size and will continue to ramp up in 2023.
Meanwhile, Ybarra also confirmed that BlizzCon will be returning, with more info coming in early 2023. Whether that means a full in-person event or another digital showcase remains to be seen.
What are your thoughts on the state of Blizzard here at the end of 2022? Do you think 2023 will be a good year for Blizzard with the launch of Diablo IV and further development of Overwatch 2 or do the studio's problems run too deep?