Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Vicarious Visions to work for Blizzard; rumored Diablo 2 remake

February 18, 2021

 

The studio Vicarious Visions is now part of Blizzard Entertainment and will take care of Blizzard games in the future. Previously, Vicarious Visions belonged to Activision and had developed Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy and Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1+2, among others, in recent years. Before that, they had worked on the PC version of Destiny 2, which was also famously released on Battle.net. Before that, they were responsible for Skylanders, among others. Going forward, studio head Jennifer Oneal will take on the position of "Executive Vice President of Development" at Blizzard. Simon Ebejer (COO) will lead the Albany, New York-based studio. Vicarious Visions employs approximately 200 people.

"After working with Vicarious Visions for some time and developing a great relationship, Blizzard realized there was an opportunity for [Vicarious Visions] to offer long-term support," an Activision Blizzard representative told GamesIndustry.biz.

So going forward, Vicarious Visions will look after the Blizzard brands and not develop its own games or titles based on brands from the Activision stable. The studio has reportedly been working on the Diablo series since 2020, including a remake of Diablo 2.

In a Bloomberg report, Jason Schreier also goes into more detail about this change. The report, based on unconfirmed information from insiders, states that Vicarious Visions is very likely to replace Blizzard's quietly disbanded "Team 1." This "Team 1" or "Classic Games Team" was responsible for StarCraft 2, Heroes of the Storm, and the floundering WarCraft 3: Reforged, among others. More recently, they are said to have been working on a remake of Diablo 2.

Excerpt from the report: "Members of Team 1 met to discuss what had gone wrong [with WarCraft 3: Reforged]. Internal Blizzard documents seen by Bloomberg attributed the game's failure to poor planning, miscommunication, and a rushed release due to executive financial pressures, among other things. For example, Blizzard had announced the game in November 2018 and started taking pre-orders for 2019 without informing most of the development team first, several people who worked on WarCraft 3: Reforged said. (...) Team 1 wanted to avoid repeating the mistakes of WarCraft 3: Reforged on its next project, the remake of Diablo 2. However, shortly after the postmortem, Blizzard pulled that project from the team and put the department behind Diablo 4 in charge of it. Some people at Vicarious Visions are also working on a remake, which was known as Diablo 2: Resurrected." And that remake of Diablo 2 is said to still be in production, although it is expected to be in direct competition with Diablo 4.

On October 15, 2020, Team 1 members were reportedly informed that the entire department would be restructured. In the weeks that followed, team members were given the opportunity to apply for other positions within the company. Those who did not find jobs were gradually let go. Others left the company for independent studios recently founded by Blizzard company veterans - such as Frost Giant or DreamHaven. The closure of the European site was also decided in a similar time frame (we reported).

Last but not least, Blizzard has promised to continue "fixing" and updating WarCraft 3: Reforged, although that task has most likely been taken on by an outside team. When asked by Bloomberg, a company spokesperson would not confirm who is handling further development, but said they will "continue to push for updates to support the community."