Blizzard wants to buy Proletariat, the developer studio responsible for the Battle Royale game Spellbreak. The title will be discontinued at the beginning of next year, instead the employees are to work on World of Warcraft from now on. It's Blizzard's biggest developer takeover in the last decade.
Spellbreak ends after just over two years
Spellbreak broke the first-person shooter monotony of the battle royale genre with a category-best fantasy setting and magic-based gameplay. When released in September 2020, the title was greeted by players as a breath of fresh air, but recently the free-to-play game has suffered from low and falling player numbers. In the last few months, Spellbreak has only had a few hundred concurrent players on Steam, as Gamestar notes with a view to SteamDB.
At the beginning of 2023, the game will be scrapped, among other things, as Proletariat announced in a blog entry. As expected, the shrunken community is disappointed and angry.
Blizzard buys studio for work on World of Warcraft
The anger is also directed against Blizzard, because the takeover should be another reason for the end of the Battle Royale title. The approximately 100 game developers at the Boston-based studio have been working with their Blizzard colleagues since May 2022, as initially reported by VentureBeat. According to this, Proletariat is supposed to be involved in the ninth World of Warcraft expansion, Dragonflight, which is expected later this year – apparently there is no time left for maintenance of another game.
VentureBeat asks Proletariat CEO Seth Sivak how he feels about the ongoing reports of harassment and sexism scandals and Blizzard's lost reputation. However, he dismissed this and referred to the ongoing investigation of the scandals. Blizzard is on the right track.
We had a very kind of open and transparent conversation about this. And I think the Blizzard team recognized some of the challenges they've had. In some of the earliest conversations, we discussed just how they were looking at continuing to improve the culture and continuing to make a great place for developers to work. That was encouraging. Obviously, there is a lot of work to be done to continue to make an awesome place for developers to work. But we were pretty happy and satisfied with the direction they're going.
Seth Sivak, CEO at Proletariat
In the coming months, the studio is expected to complete be fully integrated into Blizzard after the acquisition. It is the largest acquisition of a developer studio by Blizzard in the past decade. Most recently, in January 2021, the publisher bought Vicarious Visions, which will be used for Tony Hawk's Pro Scater 1 & 2 and the remaster of the Crash Bandicoot trilogy, and in May 2021, the Toys for Bob studio. Activision Blizzard itself is still in the process of being acquired by Microsoft, which was made public earlier this year.