If you haven't heard, Microsoft is buying gaming publisher giant Activision-Blizzard for nearly $70B in cash. All of Activision-Blizzard's IPs, studios, and everything else will be owned by Microsoft by the time the deal closes in 2023. So, gamers want to know: Is World of Warcraft coming to console? What about Hearthstone? Don't worry! In this article, we'll tell you what's going on with Blizzard games on console.
Are Blizzard Console Games Possible?
On its face, Microsoft didn't go through with the biggest gaming company acquisition in history to not bring more games to their platforms. They've said this directly, too, in that Phil Spencer plans on bringing as many Activision-Blizzard games to Game Pass as possible.
Console games that come from either the Activision side or the Blizzard side can get added to the Xbox Game Pass, no problem, and traditionally PC Blizzard games can come to Game Pass on PC without much work. This only makes sense. Even a traditionally mobile game like Candy Crush could come to either Games Pass program without much work.
Where it gets more complicated is when you have historic PC games that have never been on console before. Not only is there work to be done on the technical side of porting the game to run on an Xbox, but some games will also need entirely novel interface redesigns to work on controller.
Look at Diablo 3, originally a PC exclusive. When it finally came to consoles, it wasn't a simple port: Game systems themselves and the interface were all tweaked and changed to make the game play well on console so much so that it played differently than it did on PC. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, the Diablo 3 console port being generally well-liked, but it's something that requires time and active development.
And Diablo is a third-person action-RPG, a genre that's already been proven to work great on console. So, naturally, there's going to be a lot more work that goes into getting a game like Starcraft or World of Warcraft on console, which are games less proven to work on console with a suite of standard changes.
However, for a long time, many PC-only games weren't feasible to get working on console. Graphical requirements could be too demanding, or an interface could be too complicated for a controller, but today these limitations don't exist.
Modern consoles can run any game out, and if grand strategy games like Crusader Kings III can come to console, any PC game can come to console. Essentially, if there's a will, there's a way when it comes to porting games to console today.
Will Microsoft Bring Blizzard Games to Console?
So, while Microsoft does want to bring games to Xbox Game Pass and it is possible to do, is there good reason to expect it to happen? This is a more complicated question.
Activision-Blizzard is not a company known for leaving money on the table. In fact, they're known for trying to make the most money possible from each of their individual projects. So, it stands to reason that if there was a particularly lucrative game to port to console, it would have already been done.
Games like Starcraft or World of Warcraft would take considerable time and effort to make work really well on consoles, while games like Hearthstone are already available on so many platforms that it might not make sense to invest the necessary time and resources to make the experience worthwhile on console.
Plus, longtime Blizzard PC-exclusive games have historically had PC audiences, so even if Starcraft, for example, launched on Xbox, there may not be as big of an audience for the game on console as there is on PC. All of these factors, together, make console ports complicated.
But on the other hand, a game like World of Warcraft has been wanted on console for decades. And an MMO is often made or broken by the size and passion of its community, so in a sense, putting an MMO on as many platforms as possible makes sense. Plus, World of Warcraft doesn't pull in the numbers it once did, so a port could reinvigorate the playerbase.
When Will Blizzard Games Come to Console?
While the news surrounding the Activision-Blizzard deal has broken and the deal has been formally announced, it's not actually going to go through until 2023. On top of that, once Microsoft is in control of the company, any moves they make will, of course, take time.
While it's certainly possible that the Activision-Blizzard teams are preparing for the Microsoft takeover by starting certain projects and adjusting others, the priorities of the company are only going to majorly shift when there's new leadership.
So if a World of Warcraft console port was greenlighted after the deal goes through in 2023, we may not see that actually release until late 2024. Plus, it could very well be that Microsoft takes it slow with the console ports, working their way up and starting with a smaller, easier port to handle to see if gamers are interested in playing traditional PC Blizzard games on console.
Suffice it to say that we don't really know when this might happen, but it's a move that's definitely in the cards and can happen. As for now, we'll just have to wait and see what the future holds in store for gamers.