- May 25, 2007
An article was recently posted on Bloomberg detailing Activision Blizzard's failed WarCraft III remaster.
Reforged was announced in 2018, promising modernized graphics, a reinvigorated campaign experience, and “over four hours of updated in-game cutscenes and re-recorded voice-overs.” Such promises entailed a challenging budget - ultimately cut down by Activision due to WarCraft III's relatively unimportant (monetization-wise) status compared to the company's heavy-hitting franchises.
Blizzard's official stance on the scrapped cinematics/voiceovers was that “we did not want the in-game cutscenes to steer too far from the original game.” Recent documentation and interviews with people close to the project revealed that this was in fact due to substantial budget cuts and internal arguments over the game's direction, as well as a lack of clarity on whether the game is a remaster or a remake.
Already on Blizzard's sideline during Reforged's development, the Classic Games Team was hampered by a limited budget, constant miscommunication, unrealistic expectations, unprofessional management by team head Rob Bridenbecker, and low morale. Remastering a single campaign mission reportedly took months. The art style was argued over up until release, evident in the game's disjointed mix of cartoony environments and highly detailed units. Reportedly members of the team took on multiple jobs and went through hefty amounts of overtime to get the game to its release state. Revised scripts and re-recorded dialogue were discarded. More and more features, both promised for the remaster and present in the original game were dropped. Developers cited that Bridenbecker and other executives were "totally out of touch," and that several warnings voiced by their department were "ignored".
According to internal sources Blizzard willingly pushed for a premature release due to large pre-order numbers. "We took pre-orders when we knew the game wasn't ready yet," the developers shared, along with citing that Blizzard failed to “resist the urge to ship an unfinished product because of financial pressure.” Despite its state, the game was not delayed out of fears of potential refund requests.
Weeks after the disastrous launch of Reforged, developers promised to return many of the game's now missing features through “a new team dedicated to updating WarCraft III: Reforged with improvements." Eight months later, The Classic Games Team was disbanded. Eighteen months on and few if any of the promised updates have been brought to light.
The modding community has been busy during this time, however, with W3Champions bringing a competitive ladder back to the game, and more recently the Quenching Mod unlocking custom campaigns on the Reforged client. It seems that despite Activision Blizzard's failed remaster, WarCraft III's journey is far from over.