UPDATE June 29, 2022: Blizzard has issued a clarification that the deal to acquire Proletariat has yet to close, but acknowledged that a deal is currently going through.
Ahead of Microsoft's big acquisition of Activision-Blizzard, the publisher is still making some acquisitions of its own.
Recently, developer Proletariat Inc announced that its battlemage battle-royale would be shutting down. The ambitious independent studio put a unique spin on the battle royale genre, with magic-oriented competitive gameplay in a bright and colorful world. Sadly, the game failed to reach a sustainable level, leading to Spellbreak's demise. In the wake of the game's shutdown, it has now been revealed that the game's developer Proletariat Inc has reached a deal with Blizzard for its developers to join up and help build World of Warcraft.
In a statement to VentureBeat, Blizzard head Mike Ybarra described Proletariat as a "perfect fit," for the studio.
“We are putting players at the forefront of everything we do, and we are working hard to both meet and exceed their expectations. A critical part of taking care of players is taking care of our teams—making sure we have the resources to produce experiences our communities will love while giving our teams space to explore even more creative opportunities within their projects. Proletariat will be a perfect fit for supporting Blizzard’s mission in bringing high-quality content to our players more often.”
World of Warcraft is probably at one of its lowest points in recent memory. With its latest expansion, Shadowlands, certainly being among the weakest in the franchise's decades-long history, and a gradual decline in monthly active users. It's probably no coincidence that this expansion also ran through the global pandemic, which hit larger studios uniquely hard as it impacted collaborative projects and teams that weren't necessarily set up for remote working.
Blizzard is looking to cap off a tumultuous few years with a range of new titles, including the excellent-looking Diablo IV, a major update to Overwatch it's calling Overwatch 2, and a brand new IP with survival gameplay.
As for World of Warcraft, its next big update, Dragonflight, takes place on an all-new continent and seeks to address years of ignored player feedback that the game's core systems need work, rather than focusing on transitory features that get thrown away at the end of the expansion.
Given Proletariat's expertise in action RPG-style third-person combat, and Blizzard's insistence that it wants to improve World of Warcraft's utterly stale PvP systems, there's some real hope here that Proletariat can inject some creativity and vision into some of WoW's under-served areas. Whether or not they'll have the creative agency to actually pitch ideas wholly remains to be seen, but I think Blizzard's leadership would be doing itself a disservice to overlook what Proletariat could potentially bring to the game in this capacity. I suppose only time will tell.
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Jez Corden a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!