Source: Massively multiplayer-focused site MMOGameSite.
What we heard: Sometimes even the thinnest of rumors spark massive interest. Take the case of an allegedly leaked image on MMOGameSite purporting to be of Blizzard's release schedule for the next four years. Though the image could have been easily faked and has the barest of attribution, it does lay out an intriguingly realistic release schedule for the powerful publisher-developer's upcoming lineup.
First up on the schedule is Battle.net, the second version of which launched earlier this year. According to the schedule, a map market for the online service will launch in the second quarter of 2011, followed by third-party offerings a la Steam in the first quarter of 2012.
Next on the schedule is Starcraft II, the first part of which, Wings of Liberty, launched in July and has already sold over 3 million units. The next installment in the three-part game, the Heart of the Swarm, is apparently set for a holiday release next year, with the third, Legacy of the Void, coming in the first quarter of 2013. Curiously, a fourth Starcraft II product, code-named "Phoenix" is also scheduled for a fourth quarter 2011 release date--perhaps indicating a two-game pack with Wings of Liberty and Heart of the Swarm is in the offing.
Next up is Diablo III, which will also ship in Q4 2011 according to the schedule. The role-playing game--which may also be coming to consoles, according to recent job listings--is slated to have two expansions: One in Q2 2013 and a second in Q4 2014.
Then there's World of Warcraft. Following next week's launch of the Cataclysm expansion, the next big thing on the WOW horizon is the game's Brazilian launch in the third quarter of 2011. The fourth WOW expansion is listed as arriving in Q2 2012, followed by a new WOW trading card game the following quarter. The schedule also has the World of Warcraft film debuting in Q4 2012, a date which may slip since director Sam Raimi is apparently directing a Wizard of Oz prequel next.
According to the schedule, a fifth World of Warcraft expansion is set for Q3 2013. That's the same quarter that a mystery project--code-named "Titan"--is also set to launch. Little is known about the mystery project, but Blizzard is rumored to be developing a massively multiplayer first-person shooter in the vein of Planetside.
The official story: "As always, we appreciate the interest in Blizzard's current and upcoming games, but we don't comment on rumors or speculation and we don't have any new announcements to make."--Blizzard rep.
Bogus or not bogus?: Too little to go on, but the release windows jibe with the approximate 18-to-24-month periods between Blizzard games. However, at the Game Developers Conference Online in October, Battle.net project director Greg Canessa said that the next Starcraft installment was 18 months away. That time frame makes it due in March or April of 2012, not Q4 2011. With Blizzard not talking, it's unclear if Canessa's comments are outdated, the schedule is outdated, or the schedule was made up out of thin air. However, if a Portuguese-language version of WOW pops up next year in Brazil, it will lend this schedule some serious credibility.