Warcraft 3: Reforged A Victim Of Mismanagement, Pressure From Activision, And Budget Cuts - Report
A new report from Bloomberg tells how a reduced budget, pressure to release early, and a failure by management to listen to warnings resulted in the disappointing Warcraft 3: Reforged.
When Warcraft 3: Reforged released last year to disastrous reviews and missing features, fans were left to wonder what went wrong with the remake of one of the most legendary RTS games of all time. A new report sheds light on alleged mismanagement and a reduced budget resulted in Blizzard's maligned remake.
The report comes from Bloomberg's Jason Schreier, who talked with numerous developers who either worked on the project directly or were close to the game in some way. He also reviewed an internal "postmortem" document produced after the game's release that was Blizzard's attempt to understand what went wrong.
There was plenty that didn't go according to plan. The initial scope of Warcraft 3: Reforged when it was first announced in 2018 was a complete reimagining of Blizzard's 2002 RTS. Blizzard planned to redo Warcraft 3's in-game cutscenes and rewrite and rerecord all the game's voice-overs to more closely align with the updated lore of World of Warcraft, the MMORPG sequel to Warcraft 3 that for many was a gateway into the Warcraft universe.
Since a remaster of an old RTS game wouldn't likely become the kind of blockbuster hit that Activision wanted, Warcraft 3: Reforged allegedly wasn't a priority for the company, and as a result it failed to receive the budget needed to achieve what the developers had initially promised. The development team found themselves in over their heads, with it taking months to revamp just one of Warcraft 3's dozens of levels to modern standards. Miscommunication and mismanagement hurt the team's morale, according to the report, with the postmortem document explicitly saying members of the team suffered from exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and more for over a year while working on the game.
To make sure the game actually got out the door, the team started cutting features. Work already completed, specifically the rerecorded dialogue using a rewritten script, was tossed out in favor of using cutscenes and dialogue from the original game. The postmortem document goes on to say that company leadership was "totally out of touch with the velocity and scope of the project until extremely late in development," and that warning signs were ignored by leadership.
Though Blizzard would eventually bring in help from across the company to finish and ship Warcraft 3: Reforged, it wouldn't be enough. The game was panned by fans and critics alike, so much so Blizzard began offering no-questions-asked refunds. Blizzard was once known for only releasing high-quality games, and had a reputation for only releasing them when they were ready, no matter how long that might take. Developers felt pressured to release the game quickly, in part because they had already taken preorders for it despite knowing it would not be ready in time. In hindsight, the postmortem document says that in the future Blizzard needs to "resist the urge to ship an unfinished product because of financial pressure," with a Blizzard spokesperson telling Bloomberg that Blizzard "should have taken more time to get it right, even if it meant returning preorders."
The story behind the making of Warcraft 3: Reforged is just the latest news regarding Activision Blizzard in recent days and weeks. Recent reports have highlighted an exodus of talent away from Blizzard, with the company losing many of its veteran developers in recent years. A new lawsuit from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against Activision Blizzard accuses the company of harassment and discrimination, saying the company fosters a "frat boy" culture.
Blizzard's next remake of a classic game, Diablo 2: Resurrected, is slated to release September 23. It will be a modern version of Blizzard's landmark ARPG, sporting updated visuals and new accessibility options while still staying true to the gameplay and features of the original.
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