Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 delayed amid another Blizzard executive shake-up

Two of Blizzard's big upcoming titles have been hit with delays. During its most recent financial earnings call with investors, Activision Blizzard announced that both Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 have been delayed. In addition, the company announced that Jen Oneal will be leaving her position as co-leader of Blizzard at the end of the year, meaning Mike Ybarra will be the sole leader of Blizzard.

A longer wait for two heavy hitters

The announcement of these delays for Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 has got to sting for the fans who were looking forward to them. Both games were announced at BlizzCon 2019, and though we've received various updates about the state of both games, the delay announced during Activision Blizzard's call with investors seems to push both titles out of their 2022 release windows.

"While we are still planning to deliver a substantial amount of content from Blizzard next year, we are now planning for a later launch for Overwatch 2 and Diablo 4 than originally envisaged," Activision Blizzard said during its financial presentation.

"These are two of the most eagerly anticipated titles in the industry, and our teams have made great strides towards completion in recent quarters," the company continued. "But we believe giving the teams some extra time to complete production and continue growing their creative resources to support the titles after launch will ensure that these releases delight and engage their communities for many years into the future."

Later in the presentation (a transcript of which can be found on Activision Blizzard's IR site), the company says it is "not planning for material contributions from Overwatch 2 or Diablo 4 in 2022." That, as you may have already guessed, suggests that both games have been delayed to 2023 or possibly even beyond. Unfortunately, Blizzard didn't give specific release dates or even release windows for either game outside of that statement.

These delays leave Blizzard without a major new release for 2022, at least for the time being. Diablo Immortal, a version of Diablo destined for smartphones, is currently in testing and should be launching in the first half of 2022, though that isn't really what people expect when they think of Blizzard blockbusters.

It's always possible that Blizzard has some yet-announced project to fill the gap between now and the releases of Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2, but it doesn't seem likely. Instead, Blizzard may just fall back on maintaining the games it currently offers as work on Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2 continues, such as World of Warcraft and its Classic iteration, Hearthstone, and the original Overwatch.

Still more leadership changes at Blizzard

This batch of financial results also brought the news that Jen Oneal, current co-leader of Blizzard with Mike Ybarra, will be departing the company at the end of the year to focus on her position as a board member of Women in Games International. This will leave Ybarra as the sole leader of Blizzard in 2022 and presumably beyond.

"Jen has decided to leave the company at the end of the year, and we have agreed to support Jen in her involvement with WIGI by making a donation to WIGI in honor of Jen," Activision Blizzard president and COO Daniel I. Alegre said during the call with investors. "In her remaining months for the company, given her commitment to this work, Jen will build the foundation of programs funded by the grant."

Alegre added, "As such, Mike Ybarra will take on Jen's leadership responsibilities. It is great to see how employees at our company are committed to bring about the positive changes in our industry and beyond, and our leadership team stands behind these efforts."

Oneal was the leader of Vicarious Visions – an Activision Blizzard subsidiary – before being elevated to Blizzard co-leader alongside Mike Ybarra following the departure of J. Allen Brack. Oneal's exit from Blizzard continues a long line of executive departures, many as a result of the sexual harassment and abuse scandal that has enveloped Activision Blizzard this year.

Other high-profile departures this year include Diablo 4 game director Luis Barriga, Diablo 4 lead designer Jesse McCree, and World of Warcraft designer Jonathan LeCraft, among others. All three of those exits came after the state of California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit against Activision Blizzard regarding sexual harassment complaints. In addition, earlier in the year, Overwatch and Overwatch 2 director Jeff Kaplan left the company, though he did so before the DFEH's lawsuit came to light.

With these departures in mind, it becomes easier to understand why Blizzard may need more time to complete Diablo 4 and Overwatch 2. Both games have seen high-level employee shakeups in recent months, which likely does not lend to a brisk development schedule. We'll let you know when Blizzard announces firm release dates for both titles, but given Activision Blizzard's messaging in this call with investors, we'll probably be waiting a while for new details.