Blizzard and Chinese gaming giant NetEase have cancelled a World of Warcraft mobile game that was three years into development following a disagreement over the terms of its production, as first reported by Bloomberg.
The demise of this unreleased title, which was supposedly an MMORPG set in the WOW universe, codenamed Neptune, has prompted questions to be raised regarding the status of the very lucrative relationship between the two companies.
However, some of the intended audience of this abandoned release don’t seem too perturbed by its fate.
News of cancellation leaves fans believing they might have dodged a pay-to-win bullet
This reception to the scrapped game, which was reportedly set to be a World of Warcraft spinoff set in a different time period, isn’t entirely surprising, especially given the widespread backlash that Diablo Immortal, which is also a product of the Blizzard/NetEase relationship, has faced for its monetisation practices.
While, as the Bloomberg report points out, Immortal is still on track to be a commercial success despite this criticism, the stories of streamers and YouTubers spending large sums of money on the game either to prove how predatory they think its microtransactions are or ending up unable to get matches after dumping £100k into beefing up their character do seem to have had some effect on public perception of Blizzard mobile games.
For instance, Twitter users reacting to the news in the replies to a post from popular news aggregator @Nibellion generally seemed unfazed by it, with @BrytonRobinson sarcastically declaring: “bummer, was really hoping to drop $100k to play with no one because I’m so powerful” and @ivan_lesan saying: “if the idea was to (produce) another game monetized like Diablo Immortal, this is good news.”
A similar reception greeted the announcement on Reddit, with a thread on r/GamingLeaksAndRumours featuring analogous comments, such as user VinceMcVahon musing: “boy, I (can) only imagine the hooks they’d try to (screw) people over with in this one compared to Diablo Immortal” and SplaTTerChef adding: “and nothing of value was lost.”
On the other hand, some users in the thread did spare a thought for the team of over 100 developers that had been working on the game, some of whom Bloomberg reports are now receiving internal transfers, with starcitizen987 saying: “I'm not a game developer but I've had a web app project get cancelled after spending close to a year working on it and it feels pretty (terrible), even when it's something that you're not particularly passionate about.”
This isn’t the first mobile game that Blizzard has cancelled, with a WOW-based augmented reality project, codenamed Orbis, also having been shelved after more than four years of work.
However, the publisher will be hoping this practice doesn't become too common, with Bloomberg citing Activision Blizzard’s exploits in the mobile gaming space as one of the key reasons why Microsoft decided to acquire the company.