Sponsored By

Blizzard's Odyssey MMO killed due to ongoing engine woes

Technical issues within Odyssey's engine forced Blizzard to cancel the MMO despite it getting positive internal reception.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

January 26, 2024

2 Min Read
Concept art for Blizzard Entertainment's scrapped project, Odyssey.
Image via Blizzard Entertainment.

At a Glance

  • Blizzard was reportedly aiming to give the now-dead MMO a 2026 release and to bring on hundreds more staff to make it happen.

Yesterday saw 1,900 Microsoft employees get laid off, and a high-profile cancellation of Blizzard's next project, codenamed Odyssey.

The survival MMO, first unveiled in 2022, was scrapped after six years of development. And a new report from Bloomberg claims its chief failing stemmed from the engine it was running on.

Odyssey was pitched in 2017 and prototyped on Epic's Unreal Engine. But it couldn't handle maps with up to 100 simultaneous players, so the team had to swap to the studio's proprietary Synapse engine.

Synapse is used solely for Blizzard's mobile games, though, which led to "significant problems." Because its technology was slow, Odyssey artists prototyped in Unreal, knowing it'd get scrapped regardless.

When Microsoft acquired Activision Blizzard, team members hoped it'd justify a pivot back to Unreal. Bloomberg said Odyssey progress continued despite setbacks, and had solid early impressions.

Likewise, the team was hoping to grow in size (by the "hundreds") so Odyssey could launch in 2026. That seemed "overly optimistic" to some, and the project was killed after Synapse was deemed unfit for production.

Odyssey's team, much like the MMO, is well and truly dead

In a statement to Bloomberg, Blizzard explained noted how creating a wholly new property "is among the hardest things to do in [games]. We’re immensely grateful to all of the talented people who supported the project."

Beyond being a survival game, Odyssey's other selling point was it being Blizzard's first original IP since Overwatch. Its team featured Dan Hay, who previously worked on the survival-lite Far Cry games.

As a result of its cancellation, the Odyssey team has been laid off. Several took a moment on social media to mourn the game that could've been.

Those from that team and still at Blizzard will be shifted to other "new projects Blizzard has in the early stages of development."

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like