Jason Schreier from Bloomberg has published another investigation. This time, the journalist, citing Blizzard’s own sources and internal documents, spoke about the failure of Warcraft III: Reforged, which led to poor management and budget cuts.
Warcraft III: Reforged was released in January 2020. On Metacritic, the remake received an average score of 59 out of 100 from gaming publications, but the user rating is still one of the lowest on the site – 0.6 out of 10.
Soon after the release, players massively demanded a refund, complaining about technical problems, the lack of new cut scenes and a competitive ladder, new graphics that looked worse than the original in some places, and much more.
Then the developers promised to fix all the shortcomings, but most of the promises have not yet been fulfilled.
“The main problem with Warcraft III: Reforged was its early, unclear vision and disagreement over whether the game was a remaster or a remake. This led to other issues related to scale, gameplay, leadership, and team communication, which grew more and more towards release.
Developers from Blizzard asked for help, but in the end, bug fixes and other tasks related to the completion of development could not fix more fundamental problems, “- an Activision Blizzard spokesman.
Sources say Reforged has never been a priority for Activision Blizzard, as the remake had no chance of being a game that would net the company at least a billion dollars. This is why the game was unable to obtain sufficient funding.
Schreier notes that in recent years, Activision has begun to put financial pressure on Blizzard, so small teams like Classic Games, which developed Warcraft III: Reforged, are being ignored. Blizzard even canceled several projects in favor of proven hits.
8 months after the release of Reforged, the Classic Games team was disbanded.
According to sources, Warcraft III: Reforged decided to release ahead of time, as Blizzard has already begun accepting pre-orders. By delaying the release, the company risked being forced to accept returns and that fans would no longer buy the game again.
In 2017 and 2018, Classic Games revamped the Warcraft III scenario and re-recorded the dialogue to fit the storyline into the World of Warcraft lore. However, it soon became clear that the team was too small, that the development process was not organized and that the amount of work to be done was daunting. It took the developers several months to update just one level.
Classic Games head Rob Bridenbecker was known for his aggressive management style, frequent trips abroad during development, and a tendency to give unrealistic deadlines. Sources say misunderstandings have become a major issue within the team, as have disputes over scope and art style. Brydenbecker left Blizzard in April of this year.
Developers who have experienced exhaustion, anxiety, and depression for over a year have lost faith in the team and company. However, it was impossible to hire new employees due to budget constraints. As a result, some Classic Games members had to complete several tasks at the same time, working at night and on weekends. The team also received massive layoffs in February 2019, which affected the support department.
Warcraft III: Reforged began to gradually lose innovations, including an updated script and rewritten dialogue. David Freed, the original Warcraft III designer who worked on the remake before it was scaled down, blames Activision. In his opinion, the company is actively working against the interests of the players.
Members of the Classic Games team blame Brydenbecker and other senior executives, who seemed to them completely out of touch with the speed and scale of the project until very late in development. Senior developers warned management several times about the impending disaster, but they were ignored.
By the end of 2019, the team had brought in help from all over Blizzard to complete Warcraft III: Reforged, but that wasn’t enough.
Other Classic Games projects, such as Diablo II: Resurrected, which comes out in September, have been transferred to other teams. Now Resurrected is handled by the Diablo IV team and the Vicarious Visions team (Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2), which became part of Blizzard.
A Blizzard spokesman said the company has a new team working on updates with improvements to Warcraft III: Reforged. However, the company recognizes that actions will speak louder than words.