During BlizzCon’s opening ceremony, Blizzard celebrated its games with a cinematic that focussed on the here and now, with nods to World of Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch, Hearthstone and the developer’s latest game: Warcraft Rumble. With this focus on the present, one of its most important series went ignored, much as it has been for years. StarCraft didn’t get a look in.
While this paints a picture of a developer that has perhaps forgotten about its legacy, StarCraft was not kept entirely out of the event. With Blizzard now being part of Microsoft, Phil Spencer was in attendance and celebrated Blizzard’s history. “StarCraft spawned the foundation of what esports would eventually become,” he said. “And with StarCraft 2, it was a major catalyst for the evolution of games as live entertainment.”
These are undeniably important games, not just for diehard RTS players, but Blizzard has moved away from the series. After a decade of StarCraft 2 support, Blizzard decided that it was time to stop developing its flagship RTS, and since then has had little to say about the series. But Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, in an interview with Bloomberg, threw those of us who still hold a torch for StarCraft a bone. Just a wee one.
While Blizzard is very much focussed on its big money-makers like its various Warcraft games, from WoW to Hearthstone to Warcraft Rumble, as well as Diablo and the much-maligned Overwatch 2, he’s still open to StarCraft making a comeback. That said, RTS fans shouldn’t get their hopes up. While the series might return, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an RTS, and whatever shape it takes will depend on the person or team who goes to bat for it.
“It’s not me saying, ‘Go make a StarCraft game,'” Ybarra told Bloomberg. “I need to have someone who has the vision and passion that comes with the idea, and I’ll bet on that team.”
This has been Blizzard’s strategy for a long time. Warcraft, once one of the most beloved RTS series of all time, has just become a setting that spawns Hearthstone and World of Warcraft expansions, and the closest we’ve come to a new RTS from that series is mobile Clash-like Warcraft Rumble. Blizzard hasn’t shown us it has much faith in RTS these days, so it would make sense for StarCraft’s return to be in a different genre, as tragic as that would be.
If the next StarCraft does end up leaving its RTS roots, it would be even more of a shame given that the genre is actually the most exciting it’s been in years. Once dormant series like Homeworld and Sins of a Solar Empire have woken up, and Blizzard vets are even making their own StarCraft successor in Stormgate. If ever there was a time for Blizzard to reinvest in the genre, it would be now.