While Blizzard obviously has the right to do what they want with their own titles, are they obligated to take a beloved franchise like Diablo and present it as a lone mobile release?
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For those who have not been following gaming news for a little while, BlizzCon just wrapped up this past weekend. While some exciting things were announced, the biggest take away from this Con has been that Diablo, an isometric dungeon-crawler series, will be granted a 4th installment called Diablo Immortal. After Fans had been told that new and exciting news was to be expected at BlizzCon, a new chapter to their favorite franchise should be more than enough to make all the enthusiasts jump out of their chairs and applaud. While Blizzard had seemingly expected a positive response to the news they were welcomed with boos and groans. This announcement preceded an awkward Q&A where people asked questions they most likely did not want the answers to.
How could this have been handled better…
BlizzCon is notoriously a PC enthusiasts event. While most of their games have been ported to consoles, development for PC typically comes first in their process with ports as a secondary thought. Hearthstone is a great example of how Blizzard established a following on PC, with a powerful follow up on mobile. Diablo 3 was released, with some backlash due to unpopular design choices, on PC and then successfully ported over to the consoles after working out some kinks. The D3 port even reached the switch, with high remarks to boot. So why release a mobile exclusive for one of their most beloved titles.
Initial speculation is that they are looking for an easy way to make some cash and boost sales. Followers claim that Immortal is a reskinned version of an already released mobile game, it is plausible that Blizzard partnered with the company in question and updated the original game with changed assets and Diablo lore. We can not be sure as to why Blizzard decided to break this “Big” news the way they did. One could consider that the marketing team for Blizzard has become a powerhouse in decision-making or maybe it was just handled without understanding what their audience wanted.
Looking at more recent game announcements from notable companies, the smart move is always to understand your audience first. When Bethesda announced Fallout 76, Fallout 4 was the last game released prior to the announcement. Bethesda “typically” releases an Elder Scrolls game after every rendition of Fallout. They obviously expected people to be hyped up for the announcement of Elder Scrolls VI. Now here is the kicker, They still had no idea what Elder Scrolls was even going to be by that announcement. Luckily, Bethesda’s PR team truly understood how to handle this situation. They agreed that Fallout 76 alone would not cut it for the fans of the series, especially with the previous release being a Fallout and this one being multiplayer focused. So what did they do? They played a teaser with nothing other than a mountain range and ” Elder Scrolls” slapped on top. Now apply this to Diablo’s horrific communication with fans. If they kept the focus on Diablo as a series rather than on a game they are basically using as a placeholder, they wouldn’t have had the verbal backlash we all got to see on the front page of Reddit. Taking the approach where you keep your fanbase guessing what this new game could be and then hitting them upside the face with a mobile game is just embarrassing. Imagine if Bethesda had released Fallout Shelter they just stopped there. Immortal should have been treated as what it is, a mobile lore dump with fun gameplay to hold over fans while they develop Diablo 4
At the end of the day, Blizzard is a company. They aren’t necessarily in it to make you happy. You being happy is just a by-product of them making a profit. I’m not saying that there aren’t devs involved that are passionate about the games that they work on, I’m just saying that the game wouldn’t exist if people didn’t love it. With this being said, There is no reason to ever threaten a human being’s life over something as trivial as this. Regardless of how excited you were for a Diablo 4 announcement, treat the people involved in this situation with respect. They might have had no say in the matter and are just as enraged as you are.
I hope that Blizzard has learned something from this experience. The delivery of Immortal will temporarily tarnish the trust that people have in Blizzard, but that will blow over within a year or so. If the game was addressed as a mobile game from the start rather than being dangled in front of fans as a tempting mystery, the fanbase probably would have supported this game as they calmly awaited Diablo 4’s release.
What are your thoughts on the matter? Let us know down in the comments or on socials. Here’s to Diablo Immortal probably not being as bad as it is being portrayed.