The Rise and Fall of Blizzard's Unannounced Survival Game: A Bittersweet Tale of Canceled Dreams
Once upon a time, in the mystical land of Blizzard, a game was conceived—a survival game like no other. For over four years, it was nurtured with love...
Once upon a time, in the mystical land of Blizzard, a game was conceived—a survival game like no other. For over four years, it was nurtured with love and care, hidden away from prying eyes. Whispers of its existence circulated, filling the hearts of Blizzard employees with excitement and anticipation. Then, in early 2022, the secret was revealed, and the world trembled with delight.
The survival game, shrouded in mystery and wonder, promised a new world, a departure from anything Blizzard had ever created. Two tantalizing pieces of concept art were released into the wild, teasing us with glimpses of modern-day humans in a fantastical realm. We beheld a floating castle peering through overgrown forests, and a hooded forest ranger who seemed like a character ripped from the pages of League of Legends. The crossover of these images hinted at a premise akin to The Chronicles of Narnia—a world where ordinary beings are thrust into extraordinary realms teeming with mythical creatures.
Within the walls of Blizzard, the survival game was adored. Current and former Blizzard employees showered it with praise, even amidst the company's turmoil and allegations of sexism. The team behind the project was hailed as a group of talented, passionate individuals, and the project itself was described as mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, and a realm of pure awesomeness.
Blizzard artist Melissa Kelly couldn't contain her excitement, exclaiming, "This team is nuts and nice, and the project is like... UGH. SO COOL."
Novelist and Blizzard writer Christie Golden chimed in, saying, "All I can say is it's gonna absolutely rock. Hella beautiful too. I cannot wait!"
Even Geoffrey Virtue, executive producer of Teamfight Tactics at Riot and former co-leader of the survival game project, proclaimed, "This is a project that will have a big impact on the industry."
Former Blizzard president Mike Ybarra, who departed the company alongside the game's cancellation, declared his profound enthusiasm, having played countless hours of the game and expressing his eagerness to immerse players in the brand-new world it offered.
The praise for this enigmatic creation was so effusive that some wondered if Blizzard had orchestrated a campaign to boost the game's online presence. But Blizzard assured us that the outpouring of excitement was genuine, fueled by the team's passion and the genuine anticipation of others.
Yet, as in all tales, a twist of fate awaited our heroes. Microsoft, in a move that shocked the Blizzard realm, decided to cancel the survival game and cast aside its devoted developers. The dreams and hopes they had nurtured for over six years were shattered in an instant. The news spread like wildfire, leaving the surviving team members in disbelief and uncertainty.
"I've been let go from Blizzard, along with many many others on the Survival team," shared Matt London, the game's former associate narrative director, on X today.
The list of casualties grew longer as senior concept artist Marby Kwong, designer Ates Bayrak, senior software engineer Renato Iwashima, gameplay programmer Michael Dale, character technical artist Matheus Lima, VFX artist Rachel Quitevis, and producer Megan Embree, a 13-year veteran of Blizzard, all bid farewell to their beloved studio.
In the midst of this chaos, the survival game's director, Craig Amai, emerged as a beacon of resilience. Despite his own layoff, he focused on helping his fellow team members find new opportunities, proclaiming their unmatched talent and vouching for their worth. "If you're looking for talent, the crew coming out of the Unannounced Survival Game are abnormally high quality—I cannot recommend them enough," Amai declared in a LinkedIn post.
But the sorrow didn't end there. The former Blizzard survival game developers faced a cruel fate familiar to many in the gaming industry. Not only were they robbed of their jobs, but they also faced the challenge of having no released games to showcase on their resumes. The game development industry often demands a track record of "shipped games," projects that have seen the light of day. Job listings at Blizzard, for instance, stipulated the need for "at least one shipped title."
The developers who poured their hearts and souls into the survival game now found themselves bereft of tangible proof of their talents. They couldn't openly discuss their creation or reveal the secrets they had painstakingly woven into its fabric.
As the dust settled and the reality sank in, the former Blizzard survival game developers stood at a crossroads. Their dreams had been shattered, their paths uncertain. But within this tale of woe lies a glimmer of hope—a chance for these resilient souls to rise from the ashes and find new adventures.
For those who have knowledge of Blizzard's survival game, who walked its treacherous paths and witnessed its wondersunveiled, there is an opportunity to share the untold stories anonymously. A door opens for them to reveal the intricate details of their creation, to shed light on the magic that was lost but not forgotten.
In this bittersweet tale of canceled dreams, we witness the rise and fall of Blizzard's Unannounced Survival Game. A once-promising endeavor that captured the hearts of its creators, only to be extinguished by the whims of fate. The echoes of their passion and dedication linger, reminding us of the fragility of the gaming industry and the challenges faced by those who bring our virtual worlds to life.
Let this tale serve as a reminder that behind every game, there are countless untold stories, unexplored realms, and tireless adventurers who strive to create something extraordinary. The artistry and craftsmanship that go into these virtual realms deserve recognition, even when the tales end abruptly and the worlds remain unseen.
So, let us remember the fallen survival game—a testament to the talent and resilience of its creators. May their journey continue, and may their talents find new avenues to flourish. For in the realm of gaming, where dreams are born and shattered, the next adventure is always just around the corner.