Blizzard and Chinese mobile developer NetEase reportedly canceled an unannounced World of Warcraft mobile game after three years of development.
One of several new projects Blizzard has in the works (opens in new tab), the MMORPG would have been set in the World of Warcraft universe, but would feature a different time period than the main game. As revealed in a report by Bloomberg (opens in new tab)NetEase and Blizzard canceled the project after a dispute over financial terms.
The axado game would not have been a direct adaptation of the existing World of Warcraft MMORPG on PC, but a spin-off made for mobile. The project appears to have been fully wrapped up now, with NetEase disbanding the game’s creative team of over 100 developers.
Azeroth is on the move
Canceling the unannounced project will not mark the end of the mobile franchise. It wasn’t until May that Blizzard announced Warcraft Arclight Rumble – an upcoming action strategy game set in a stylized version of the Warcraft universe. It seems to heavily mimic the PvP and PvE gameplay of the hugely successful Clash Royale.
Blizzard also has plans for Warcraft mobile games. Last year, CEO Bobby Kotick said (opens in new tab) the publisher “has created several free-to-play mobile Warcraft experiences, and they are now in advanced development.” He added that the publisher wanted to “create opportunities for existing players and new fans to experience the Warcraft universe in entirely new ways.”
Arclight Rumble and this now-canceled World of Warcraft spin-off were likely the pioneers of this initiative. But unlikely are the only projects Blizzard is secretly tinkering with to expand into the Chinese gaming market. information analyst statist (opens in new tab) estimates that China has one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, having reached 660 million mobile gamers in early 2022. Blizzard will likely be interested in tapping into this customer base, which is often untapped by Western studios.
The publisher has already had substantial success doing just that. Diablo Immortal was released to poor critical reception, but it was a commercial triumph. It generated more than $100 million in less than two months and was ranked as the most downloaded app in China within the first two days of its launch, according to a market analyst. Sensor Tower. Also, the latest release from Activision Blizzard quarterly earnings report (opens in new tab) revealed that “more than half of the game’s player accounts to date are new to Blizzard”, locking a new player base into its ecosystem.
But how it will try to replicate that success in the future is uncertain. The American publisher’s collaboration with NetEase opened the door to the Chinese market. The schism that now exists between them could derail future releases, as well as leading to the cancellation of this unannounced World of Warcraft game. The least we can hope for is that there are no more mentions of Winnie the Pooh, which saw Diablo Immortal initially delayed in China.