From RPM Racing To Diablo III: A Timeline Of Blizzard’s No-Rush Release Schedule

From RPM Racing To Diablo III: A Timeline Of Blizzard’s No-Rush Release Schedule

With the long-awaited Diablo III due out in May some 12 years after the release of Diablo II, we decided to take a look back at the release history of the company that puts out a new game “When it’s done”.

Aside for the Warcraft franchise, which has seen pretty regular releases since 2002, Blizzard’s release schedule is a study in empty spaces. Even World of Warcraft’s expansions are pretty staggered, especially considering the original plan was to release a new expansion pack every year after Burning Crusade.

Considering the company’s track record of hits and misses, I’d say this timeline could serve as a blueprint for other developers; a prime example of how you don’t need a new game every year to be a success.

Note that we also included games from before Blizzard was Blizzard, though we omitted Silicon & Synapse’s ports, as they don’t count.



  • The Lost Vikings was awesome. S&S made a great game. And then LV2 came out and I was like “Who are Blizzard?”

  • “Considering the company’s track record of hits and misses, I’d say this timeline could serve as a blueprint for other developers; a prime example of how you don’t need a new game every year to be a success.”

    For me personally, Blizzard has had more misses than hits. The only Blizzard games I’ve enjoyed are Warcraft II, Starcraft/Starcraft 2, and the two Lost Vikings games (although Blackthorne wasn’t too bad for a Flashback clone). Diablo games were boring. Warcraft III screwed with the Warcraft formula too much. I wasn’t touching WoW with a 40 foot pole.

    You also need to look at the chart more closely to see that they have indeed released a new game almost every year. The only really sizeable gap is 3 years after WoW’s release (why would you need to release a new game when the money’s practically flying in?)

    1991 – RPM Racing
    1992 – The Lost Vikings
    1993 – Rock ‘n Roll Racing
    1994 – Blackthorne/Superman/Warcraft
    1995 – Justice League
    1996 – Lost Vikings 2/Warcraft II/BtDP/Diablo
    1997 – None
    1998 – Starcraft/Brood War (BW was very late 1998)
    1999 – None
    2000 – Diablo 2
    2001 – LoD
    2002 – Warcraft III
    2003 – Frozen Throne
    2004 – WoW
    2005 – None
    2006 – None
    2007 – Burning Crusade
    2008 – Lich King
    2009 – None
    2010 – Starcraft II/Cataclysm
    2011 – None
    2012 – Panderia/Diablo 3/Heart of the Swarm

    And for those playing at home, that’s 25 games released in 22 years. That’s an average of 1.13 games a year.

      • I guess expansion packs are movies then? Of course they are games. Just because they reuse the engine doesn’t mean they aren’t games. Development time was still spent on them, you still paid money for them, they are still games. Blizzard’s expansions in particular are close to complete games in and of themselves. BW and FT in particular had complete single player campaigns in addition to the multiplayer content.

        To brush of expansions as “not equal to games” is stupid.

        • Sorry, but Expanitons are not games. There expanitons for already relesed games, and as such, can not be called a game on there own. Eddie has it right.

    • @Michael “For me personally, Blizzard has had more misses than hits.”

      Luckily for Blizzard, their success isn’t measured on your preferences. In my opinion, there hasn’t been a bad blizzard release (but yes, I agree that PvP was horrible in Cataclysm).

      • Well that’s why I said “for me personally”. I realise that I go against the common opinion, but it IS my opinion.

    • SC64 was essentially just a port of the PC version, not a new game. Blizzard didn’t have much to do with it either, it was primarily developed by Mass Media.

  • It’s also worth mentioning too that Blizzard is in the unique situation that they are not under any publisher pressure and deadlines. Not too many other devs would have this luxury (Valve and id are two that would come to mind, I’d struggle to think of many others…even guys like Rockstar, Bioware and Naughty Dog wouldn’t be able to get away with it for long).

    The fact is, the majority of developers out there CAN’T adopt the “it’s done when it’s done” mentality. They are at the mercy of the publishers to finish the game by x time and if they don’t they risk not being paid or worse having the project cancelled or given to another developer. That’s unfortunately the nature of the industry. The devs need to hit their milestones to keep their heads above water.

  • Ugh, every 12 years they release a Diablo game like clockwork.

    I bet its just a quick rehash to grab our 60 dollars.

  • I wonder if Blizzard has alienated anyone in the way they handled Diablo 3, it’s taken ages to make and yet they’ve cut things in order to make a release dat (something typically against their philosophy). Seems like both camps lose… ah who am I kidding Blizzard fans be Blizzard fans.

    • @Sam, I’m definatly not happy about them releasing D3 with excluded content in order to make a release date. They say they will include PvP later, but nothing is stopping them from just saying: “Never-mind PvP we have a successful RPG element that sold wonderfully, why waste time on more content when we already have our money.”

      In short I would rather see the game released later then it is now with all its content in good shape then buy it now and have them introduce it later, I trust they will but it puts the consumer at their mercy because it’s not included in the released product. I will still buy and enjoy the game of-course, my complaint is only minor.

  • They should of put a mark for the Activision merge, so we can laugh at the steady deterioration of their game quality.

    • I agree with your view on this on the proviso that Blizzard don’t start the PR campaign for their games 4+ years before release. There is nothing wrong with them keeping the development doors sealed shut until 12 months before release, then telling the world about it.

  • Man the Slowfall shield in WOW from the Viking is pure gold! :> Also the in combat 30 second stun hat from the Vikings is also gold, and well the bow is there too but it sucks gold … VIKINGS!

  • I doubt both MoP and Heart of the Swarm will come out this year. My money is on MoP – they know that WoW is losing subscribers so they want one last push to get people to keep playing before they come out with their new MMO. Heart of the swarm… next year maybe?

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