It was confirmed in a recent Activision Blizzard earnings call that subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment will not have a “major frontline release” in 2019 . The news comes as the company announced it was laying off 8% of its staff, totaling nearly 800 people. Blizzard’s last full release was Overwatch in 2016.
One one end, the news isn’t necessarily surprising, as we had not heard any word on upcoming projects from the famed developer. On the other hand, it’s been reported that Activision was attempting to push Blizzard to release projects more frequently. Blizzard does have the (controversial) mobile game Diablo Immortal in the works, though this does put into question whether it will release in 2019 after all. Although there is the question of whether Diablo Immortal is considered a major release or not. It should be noted that Activision Blizzard will be refocusing its efforts on core franchises like Call of Duty and Candy Crush. Blizzard properties like Hearthstone, Overwatch, and Warcraft were specifically mentioned, as well.
The news comes after a rocky year for both Blizzard and Activision (both companies under the Activision Blizzard umbrella). Following founder Mike Morhaime’s departure from Blizzard, things seemed to keep getting worse and worse for the developer. The reveal of Diablo Imoortal at BlizzCon 2018 was highly controversial, forcing Blizzard to reaffirm its commitment to the Diablo franchise overall.
Unfortunately, Activision Blizzard overall is having a turbulent time. Amid numerous executive shake-ups, Activision also formally split with Destiny developer Bungie in January 2019. The layoffs are a result of a major restructuring for the company. Games confirmed for 2019 from Activision Blizzard include Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled, and Infinity Ward’s next Call of Duty game.