Because the game was never officially released at retail, this week’s release finally gives Warcraft fans a chance to play Lord of the Clans firsthand. The downloadable version is feature complete, and dedicated players will be able to experience the quest from beginning to end.
Announced in 1997, Warcraft Adventures was a collaboration between developer Blizzard and Animation Magic, the Russian studio responsible for the animated cutscenes in Hotel Mario and Link: The Faces of Evil for the Philips CD-i.
Technical limitations and communication issues between the two companies pushed the project back to a 1998 release, at which point it appeared dated in comparison to competing LucasArts titles like The Curse of Monkey Island and Grim Fandango. Despite Warcraft Adventures being almost ready for retail, Blizzard opted to cancel the release rather than pursue planned improvements to its storyline and puzzle design.
“I think that one of the big problems with Warcraft Adventures was that we were actually creating a traditional adventure game, and what people expected from an adventure game — and very honestly what we expected from an adventure game — changed over the course of the project,” producer Bill Roper said after the game’s cancellation.
Blizzard itself addressed the project’s downfall in a 1998 press release. “The cancellation was not a business or marketing decision or even a statement about the adventure genre,” the publisher stated. “The decision centered around the level of value that we want to give our customers. In essence, it was a case of stepping up and really proving to ourselves and gamers that we will not sell out on the quality of our games.”
Though little has been revealed regarding how Warcraft Adventures was eventually discovered and leaked, distributor and Scrolls of Lore Forums member Reidor describes the free release as “my gift for all Blizzard fans, old and new.”