What a complete and total mess this franchise has been behind the scenes.
Diablo 4’s development apparently ran into trouble, with Blizzard flat out not being sure about the direction to take the franchise in in the future. However, even before then, it seems like Diablo was having some development troubles at the company, with Jason Schreier’s report digging into the state of the Diablo franchise on Kotaku mentioning a second planned expansion for Diablo 3, also scuppered in development.
Said second expansion was something fans have been expecting for a while now, and it looks like Blizzard did intend to deliver on that front. However, around 2013 or 2014, right before the release of Reaper of Souls, Blizzard internally announced that Diablo 3’s second expansion would be canceled.
“What they told the team was, ‘You’ve finished Reaper of Souls, it’s really good. But we think the best thing for the IP is to move to Diablo IV in whatever form that’ll be.’ The overall sense on the team, at least in my impression, was that there was a vote of no confidence from the executives. They thought Diablo III was a giant ****-up,” an anonymous source is cited as saying.
“The perception overall was that management thought, ‘This team really screwed up’. They could’ve held off a few months and seen how Reaper did, but in their mind [Diablo III] was irredeemable.”
Apparently, even the eventual success of Reaper of Souls, widely credited with having turned the game around, was not enough for Blizzard to budge, and development would instead move on to Diablo 4, initially codenamed Hades—a game which would run into its own share of trouble.
I do wish Blizzard had just stuck with Diablo 3 for a while—it was clear that they were on the right track with salvaging the game, but they chose to abandon it at a critical moment instead. Diablo 3 is out now on PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.