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What this StarCraft 2 update means for the franchise's future

It's the end of an era. Nothing lasts forever. All good things must come to an end. In other words, don't expect anything new from StarCraft 2.

On Oct. 15, Blizzard Entertainment Vice President Rob Bridenbecker greeted the company's loyal fans with some bad news. After providing a reliable stream of StarCraft 2 content for years — despite the last expansion in the StarCraft 2 trilogy releasing in 2015 — Blizzard finally decided to stop all new content development.

Anything you can purchase for StarCraft 2, such as playable Commanders and War Chests that contain cosmetic army skins, has been shuttered, but the game isn't entering maintenance mode just yet. Blizzard will still roll out necessary balance patches and tweaks, and the title's multiplayer seasons aren't going anywhere, either. Players just shouldn't expect anything big in the game, which could be a blessing in disguise. By Bridenbecker's own admittance, the StarCraft 2 devs are now free to "think about what's next, not just with regard to StarCraft II, but for the StarCraft universe as a whole."

Given Bridenbecker's wording, he could be implying that since the StarCraft 2 team is no longer shackled to, well, StarCraft 2, the devs could finally start work on new StarCraft-themed projects. This could result in the long-awaited StarCraft 3 or something more along the lines of the myriad of canceled StarCraft titles, such as an FPS StarCraft game. However, even if Blizzard produces a new StarCraft entry, audiences might not swarm around it as they did with StarCraft 2.

Lately, Blizzard's popularity seems to have been in a downward spiral, and the company hasn't had a moment to recover. A lot of questionable decisions have come to light, from laying off 8% of its staff in a year to the Blitzchung ban kerfuffle. Moreover, Blizzard shut down its Versailles, France branch, which resulted in the call for a worker's strike. And that's just the business side of things.

Blizzard's latest release, Warcraft 3: Reforged, is a black hole of controversy. Most of the new features Blizzard promised — such as remastered cutscenes, reforged unit animations, and remade UI elements — didn't make the final cut. Meanwhile, age-old elements from the original Warcraft 3 such as LAN parties and offline battles got the axe for seemingly no reason. If that wasn't bad enough, Blizzard snuck a clause into the game's terms of service stating modders "waive any moral rights or similar rights you may have in all such Custom Games."

Calling the response to Warcraft 3: Reforged "negative" would be a gross understatement. Some gamers were outraged by the "waive any moral rights" clause, and audiences review bombed the game on Metacritic, turning the title into the lowest-scored game on the site, at least until Madden NFL 21 stole that crown.

Even though the StarCraft team has avoided most of the company's controversies, it is a shadow of its former self. In 2019, Dustin Browder, lead designer of StarCraft 2, quietly jumped ship. Browder's new company, Dreamhaven, is filled with ex-Blizzard talent, some of whom assisted him in creating and molding StarCraft 2. While Blizzard still has a StarCraft 2 team, the magic that helped make the game what it is today has dissipated.

While many fans reacted to the StarCraft 2 news with optimism, an equal number of gamers were slightly more pessimistic and vocalized a call for Blizzard to sell the StarCraft IP. No matter which side of the fence you call home, now that Blizzard has finally stopped producing new StarCraft 2 content, the future of StarCraft will look decidedly non-StarCraft 2-shaped, whether for good or ill.