NetEase has scrapped its plans for a mobile World of Warcraft title. As a result of this cancelation, the company has had to disband the team working on the title and lay off 100 employees.
According to Bloomberg, NetEase used the codename Neptune for the planned title, and it was to be a new mobile MMORPG set in the same universe as World of Warcraft. The game wasn’t going to be a direct mobile port of the PC game, though. Sources say that Neptune was going to be a spinoff of the WoW universe, set in a slightly different time period to the events in the PC title.
The reason for the cancelation is thought to be a conflict between the developer and the game’s publisher, Activision Blizzard. Usually, when a developer like NetEase cancels one project, the teams working on it will get transferred to other projects within the company. This, unfortunately, has not been the case for all of the employees involved in Neptune.
While some of the employees did secure transfers to teams working on some of NetEase’s other IP, just over 100 employees didn’t make the cut. The cancelation, unfortunately, calls the entire partnership between NetEase and Activision Blizzard into question, which is a massive blow for the American developer as a partnership with NetEase opens doors to the rest of the substantial Chinese market.
The new mobile game was thought to be the equivalent to Diablo Immortal when it was still planned to be released. The latter has gone on to become a worldwide mobile phenomenon. This is despite the fact that many players see the game as a total cash grab. Diablo Immortal has already been downloaded in excess of 30 million times.
It’s important to note, though, that not every mobile game published by Activision Blizzard is a home run. Neptune is actually the second mobile WoW spinoff to be canceled after numerous years of development. The other was called Orbis, and had it been released, it would have been Activision Blizzard’s answer to Niantic’s Pokemon Go.
If you were looking forward to something new in the World of Warcraft universe, though, you won’t be disappointed. Even though Neptune is canceled, World of Warcraft will release the Wrath of the Lich King in September.