Diablo III was supposed to have a second expansion after Reaper of Souls, but Blizzard canceled it despite Reaper’s commercial success.
With all the anger aimed at Blizzard over Diablo Immortal, some Diablo fans are wondering why the franchise is making the jump to mobile instead of adding another expansion to their already wildly successful hack-and-slash RPG. It turns out, they’d planned to make another expansion after Reaper of Souls, but it was canceled by Blizzard executives who felt like the game was already a failure.
Kotaku did a deep dive into Diablo III’s often troubled history, speaking to current and former Blizzard staffers to get the inside scoop. It turns out that Blizzard had originally planned a second Reaper of Souls-style expansion after its March 2014 release, but it was canceled shortly before Reaper hit digital store shelves.
The reason why seems almost unbelievable. According to people working on the Diablo team, it seemed that the Blizzard higher-ups felt that Diablo III was a flop and that no expansion could turn the game around.
It’s true that Diablo III had a troubled beginning. Connectivity issues with Blizzard’s servers made playing the game virtually impossible, and the for-money auction house made a cottage industry of item farmers pop up that was definitely unhealthy for the long-term state of the game.
But the Diablo development team kept at it, working out the bugs and eventually fixing the game mechanics and economy to be as perfect as can be. By the time Reaper of Souls came out, Diablo III was widely seen as the pinnacle of the action-RPG genre.
Despite this, staffers felt like Blizzard’s executives considered Diablo III “irredeemable,” and canceling the second planned expansion was a heavy blow.
“A lot of people felt stunned by it,” one former Diablo III developer told Kotaku. “I think a lot of them felt like, ‘We made mistakes on Diablo III, but we learned and we made Reaper to show what we could do. We have fixed it, and Reaper’s really good.’
“I think a lot of people felt like we’d figured it out and we know how to do this, and expansion two, whatever it would’ve been, would’ve been the highest expression of that… To have them pull the plug without really seeing how Reaper did really stung.”
After the second expansion, the Diablo team began to work on a version of Diablo 4 that essentially copied the Dark Souls formula and was eventually canceled. After that, the same team developed the Rise of the Necromancer content add-on which added the Necromancer to the game, but since then it’s been back to work on a new version of Diablo 4.
What that second expansion could have included (such as the Druid class from Diablo II) is never mentioned. We can only wonder at what might have been.