Video game giant Blizzard could be releasing Diablo 3 and a version of Starcraft 2 called "Phoenix" next year, if rumors about leaks of the company's five-year product road map are true.
First reported last week by MMOGameSite.com, the word seems to be that the leak, if it happened, could be tied to the recent and abrupt resignation of Blizzard China's general manager.
Blizzard told CNET that it would not comment on the rumors and that it is focused on the release today of the latest version, known as Cataclysm, of its megahit World of Warcraft.
Although no one has gotten a confirmation about the leak, there seems to be widespread agreement that the purported Blizzard product road map is realistic. Of course, even if it is real, any number of normal business circumstances could derail it during the five-year period.
Either way, the purported road map indicates that Blizzard plans on releasing Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 Phoenix, as well as a separate Starcraft 2 expansion in 2011; a major World of Warcraft expansion--and a World of Warcraft movie--in 2012; and in 2013, a second Starcraft 2 expansion, a Diablo 3 expansion, the fifth major WoW expansion, and an entirely new project, known as "Titan." Finally, the road map predicts a second Diablo 3 expansion for 2014.
According to MMOGameSite.com, the leak took place on November 29, and shortly thereafter, Blizzard China's general manager, Ye Weilun, was said to have been fired, or at least to have resigned. However, the Marbridge Daily reported that some Blizzard sources have suggested that Weilun's departure was long in the works and was unrelated to any data leak.
At the same time, MMOGameSite.com also reported that "leaked internal confidential documents...contain details of Blizzard Games' subscribers, revenue, advertising budgets, and media plans."
In situations like this, of course, it's always difficult to know how much stock to put in rumors. But there seems to be fairly widespread agreement that the information seems plausible, given the level of detail about the various products and the time frames for each potential release, and given the recent staffing changes at Blizzard China.