Former Blizzard boss explains why the studio cancels half its games (no, really)

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Here's a complete list of the all-new games Blizzard Entertainment has put out since 2015: Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. We'll probably never know how many games it's canceled in that same period, but according to former Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime's math, the list is likely at least as long. The elder statesman of all things Warcraft and beyond spoke about his experiences at the head of the studio at the Gamelab conference in Barcelona, including its (in)famous commitment to quality control.

The story goes that for every game Blizzard sees through to completion, it cancels another - a roughly 50 percent release rate for games that have had potentially years of work poured into them: "I've gone back every few years and checked the math on that, and it's pretty consistent," Morhaime said, as reported by Eurogamer. "It's like half the titles we work on never make it."

The StarCraft FPS, Project Titan, StarCraft: Ghost, Nomad, Warcraft Adventures: Lord of the Clans. Those are just some of the big games that Blizzard has famously canceled over more than two decades, and many more have never even been announced.

(Image credit: Blizzard)

"There's a saying that 'perfect is the enemy of great', because if you strive for perfection you'll never ship," Morhaime admitted. "But I do think that there's so much competition out there".

He illustrated the point with the example of the original Diablo: it was originally intended to ship in time for Thanksgiving 1996, the biggest sales period of the year for games, but instead the studio decided to delay it. Can you think of any big games that came out on New Year's Eve? Diablo did, and then it became the best-selling game of 1997.

"The lesson that we took from that is that it's way more important that the game is great - it's way less important that you hit the date," Morhaime said.

Read about how World of Warcraft Classic is confronting nostalgia with historical facts, and don't miss our latest Release Radar video for all the biggest events in games and entertainment this week.

Connor Sheridan

I got a BA in journalism from Central Michigan University - though the best education I received there was from CM Life, its student-run newspaper. Long before that, I started pursuing my degree in video games by bugging my older brother to let me play Zelda on the Super Nintendo. I've previously been a news intern for GameSpot, a news writer for CVG, and now I'm a staff writer here at GamesRadar.