As many people know, the Classic Games division which originally was created to update Starcraft 1, Diablo 2, and Warcraft 3 gradually became shifted to also being in charge of Diablo III, Starcraft II, and Heroes of the Storm as well before both the Diablo games were moved to the Diablo division, leaving Classic Games with SCR, SC2, HotS, and WC3R. In late 2020 the groups were reorganized or dismantled depending who you ask. Here’s where those games stand now:
2020 started off with a bang as the ESL Pro Tour was announced. Later that year, we were all surprised by the announcement of Patch 5.0 which included new campaign achievements, Co-op Prestiges, and major updates to the map editor. There were also some big balance changes. But not long after that some of the lead developers for SC2 announced that they had formed Frost Giant. Within a week it was announced that there would be no more paid content for SC2 but that ladder seasons would continue and balance changes would be applied as needed.
A long time passed without any updates although we found that they were still open to adding portraits that were tied to other events like IEM Katowice and BlizzConline. Skins from previous War Chests and BlizzCons have been made available for purchase. As the map pool went months and months without change, ESL stepped in and helped add maps from previous TLMC . Then ESL formed a partnership with TeamLiquid and Shopify to fund further TLMC events to keep maps coming. For balance, a group of tournament organizers and community members were formed earlier this year to make changes. So, for SC2, Classic Games is primarily a maintenance group that relies on external consultants for any game decisions. The balance changes were in March but we’ve been waiting since October for a new map pool despite ESL Pro Tour using new maps. We’re also still awaiting information on what SC2 ESL will look like next year after the 3-year contract ends at IEM Katowice. We do know that ESL has partnered with TakeTV and TeamLiquid to protect the tour regardless of how much funding Blizzard is willing to give in the future.
Things have been pretty quiet with SCR. Game development was clearly scaled back at the same time SC2 was. Obviously, balance changes were always out of the question before and that’s not changing. Features that Grant Davies was working on like team matchmaking appear to have been abandoned when he left Blizzard. Console skins from the Korean orchestra concerts were made available for purchase. New ladder seasons have still provided special portraits and other portraits were available through BlizzConline. There has been no official word on who chooses the map pools although they seem to be linked to AfreecaTV and ASL. However, a new map pool and ladder season haven’t been introduced since last September and there has been no word on when to expect a new season.
Heroes of the Storm:
This is a weird one and big news just dropped today. Heroes of the Storm esports were abruptly cancelled in early 2019 and development was heavily scaled back. However, contrary to a lot of reports, development did continue. New heroes were still occasionally introduced and the in-game economy was completely redesigned. But shortly after Classic Games was further reorganized, HotS introduced one more hero and that was it. 2021 no longer had traditional in-game events but they released a couple groups of paid skins; One themed after Overwatch and another themed after the older Starcraft, Warcraft, and Diablo games. Major balance changes continued including hero reworks and some wider changes to how structures on the maps worked. David Warner and his team were also much more visible than other Classic Games groups, often interacting with players on Reddit and the official forums.
That changed today as HotS got an announcement similar to the one SC2 got a couple years ago . There will no longer be any more paid content and balance changes will only be as needed. Hard to tell if they’ll be consulting with external groups for gameplay changes like with SC2.
Warcraft III Reforged:
Here’s the weirdest one. WC3R was, as everyone knows very well, Blizzard’s biggest launch disaster in the history of the company. Not only was it missing many of the promoted features; It was missing features that the original game had before it was taken down. The majority of the bugs were fixed and there was a series of major balance changes. They said that they’d be adding previously promoted features to the ladder but not the campaigns. To this day, the game can still be returned for a no-questions-asked refund. It has not received even the smallest cosmetic contents post-launch and the game is always left out of BlizzCon packages and Blizzard sales. In April last year, it received a balance patch that had apparently been in-development for a while and the forum post claimed Blizzard was still committed to adding ladder leagues, leaderboards, and player profiles. Then things went completely silent for over a year.
After some instances of Blizzard president Mike Ybarra confirming that there is indeed a team working on the game, a PTR patch was finally announced last month with the promised leagues, leaderboards, and profiles along with some changes to the campaigns . These are all features that were already in development before things went silent. Mike Ybarra also shared that Warcraft III Reforged has been moved out of Classic Games and is been overseen by the Warcraft group. According to the PTR notes there will be more updates coming later in the year.
So it looks like Classic Games is now trimmed down to Starcraft II, Starcraft Remastered, and Heroes of the Storm with the three titles no longer getting paid content and relying on external consultation for any necessary changes like balance and map pools. Mike Ybarra has made some vague Starcraft-related teases on Twitter but nothing remotely concrete. Community members assisting with things like balance have had to sign non-disclosure agreements. So almost all official news on these games has had to come through Blizzard community managers and customer support agents on the official forums.