Activision Blizzard announced recently to its shareholders and media, including me, they would broadcast their announcements at the 2011 Citi Technology Conference on September 8, 2011 at 10:45 AM (ET). Speakers: Thomas Tippl (COO, Activision Blizzard) and Rob Pardo (Blizzard EVP of Game Design).
According to Thomas Tippl, Blizzard Entertainment will release SIX video games based on known intellectual properties (IP) in the upcoming three years.
That doesn't count the upcoming Next-Gen MMO which is based on a brand-new IP.
Now that's mind-blowing! Let's recap what everyone does know so far Blizzard's pipeline looks like:
1. World of Warcraft Expansion III (Untitled)
2. StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm
3. StarCraft II: Legacy of the Void
4. Diablo III
5. Diablo III Expansion (Untitled)
6. Whoa? ... again ... WHOA?
As you see from the pipeline above, there is a sixth game unaccounted for here. Thomas Tippl mentioned six games based on known IPs within the next three years.
The World of Warcraft has been shipping expansions within 21-25 months (nigh two years).
World of Warcraft (Vanilla): November 23, 2004
Burning Crusade: January 16, 2007 (25 months, 24 days)
Wrath of the Lich King: November 13, 2008 (21 months, 28 days)
Cataclysm: December 7, 2010 (24 months, 24 days)
The next WoW expansion will be announced at BlizzCon 2011, and might ship around Q4 2012 - Q1 2013 (as a wild and highly inaccurate guess). Thomas Tippl's projections span from 2012 - 2014 ... Can Blizzard cram in two expansions in a lapse of three years?
On the other hand, StarCraft II is known to have three episodes, of which Wings of Liberty was shipped on July 27, 2010. "Heart of the Swarm" is coming out on 2012. That falls into the standard 21-24 months development cycle. This gives "Legacy of the Void" room to ship around 2014, and thus why I listed it above within Thomas Tipple's three years projection.
On the Diablo III front, Jay Wilson mentioned in an interview last year plans for "expansions". Mike Morhaime and Rob Pardo have mentioned hopes to ship Diablo III by Q4 2011, but they won't sacrifice quality to push a 2011 release date. Let's pretend Diablo III ships on 2012. Based on a 21-24 months development cycle, Blizzard can cram in a Diablo III expansion in this "three years projection". A third Diablo III expansion? Maybe. Maybe not.
As seen, it's hard to tell what this mysterious Sixth known video game IP fits in Thomas Tippl's announcement today at the 2011 Citi Technology Conference.
It could be any of these:
World of Warcraft Expansion # 5
Diablo III expansion # 2
Any of the Classic Arcade revisited
Take in mind, Thomas Tippl said known IPs. The Next-Gen MMO doesn't count. That's a brand-new IP, not an existing one. Take your best guess shot.
Another possibility is that Blizzard might develop a mobile game (iPad, Sony NGP) -- but that's further down in the speculation spectrum.
You can listen to the 2011 Citi Technology Conference broadcast here.