On Wednesday, a vague tweet from a Blizzard game developer hinted at a canceled game project that fans would “never see,” then announced his departure from the company. As questions started flying over what that game was, Kotaku super-reporter Jason Schreier showed up one day later with the scoop: the canceled game, which had been in development for two years, was a first-person shooter set in the StarCraft universe.
In addition to citing “three people familiar with goings-on,” Schreier received a lengthy official response from Blizzard on Thursday that did not deny the game’s existence and cancellation. It reads, in part: “As has been the case at Blizzard numerous times in the past, there is always the possibility that we’ll make the decision to not move forward on a given project.”
This project, which Schreier says was codenamed “Ares” within Blizzard, began as a Battlefield-like campaign against the series’ Zerg aliens whose initial prototypes put players in control of a “Terran marine.” The Schreier report says that the team had planned to put players in control of Zerg aliens, as well—but the fact that such content was only hinted at, as opposed to being internally playable, may point to how far along the game had gotten.
Schreier’s report didn’t clarify what aspects of the Battlefield series may have found their way into the prototype, including big vehicles or destructible terrain. But the game was built using the same Blizzard-exclusive engine used to power Overwatch.
Despite the news’ original tease coming as part of a developer’s “goodbye to Blizzard” tweet, Schreier’s sources say no staffers were let go due to the game’s cancellation “a couple of weeks ago.” Instead, those staffers were shuffled to the internal teams working on Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2. This project’s cancellation follows reports that Blizzard would focus its development resources on existing IP, as opposed to new series experiments. A StarCraft-branded FPS may have fit into that plan at the time, but that has clearly changed.
One of Schreier’s unnamed sources expressed “shock” about the game’s cancellation, while another described the prototype as “looking quite good.” Neither offered any direct comparisons between that game and the infamous StarCraft Ghost project, a third-person shooter that was teased publicly for years before being formally canceled in 2006.
Schreier took the Thursday news opportunity to offer a tease about Overwatch 2, as well: that it will include a substantial amount of “PvE” combat. While Schreier mentioned direct comparisons to the co-op shooting franchise Left 4 Dead, we wonder how much of that PvE content will resemble the seasonal Overwatch events that have already landed in the existing game.