Another year of Blizzcon has come and gone. Friends reunited, cosplay was shared, announcements were had, and tournaments were ran. I found myself at Blizzcon this year enjoying the various events and displays present, but unfortunately the atmosphere felt marred at times by the Diablo Immortal announcement.
For those unfamiliar with the explosive nature of the announcement, Blizzard has announced that the next Diablo experience would be on the mobile phone. Naturally hardcore PC gamers going to a PC gaming conference were not happy. And I was sympathetic to their plight. I understand that when you are passionate about an IP that you want to see succeed to be reduced to a mobile game must be heartbreaking. But to threaten death upon developers and their families is drawing the line.
Developers, fans, and self
Blizzard has made interesting business choices in the past and it continues to do so here. Quite frankly their message was tone deaf when it came to Blizzcon. Did they really expect a mobile game announcement to be a big hit? Nevermind that they chose to close opening ceremonies with Diablo Immortal. They should have closed with a big announcement like Warcraft Reforged in hindsight. The Diablo Q&A panel quickly became a farce between the line of questioning and the unbelievable statement Wyatt Cheng made, “Do you guys not have phones?” No business should ever insult their customers like that. That was some of the worst PR I have ever had the pleasure to witness live. And finally Blizzard took it upon themselves to delete many of the negative Youtube comments that populated the above video, which currently sits at 629k dislikes to 23k likes. But while Blizzard has done everything in their power to bungle this the fans are not blameless.
From death threats to memes fans have quickly shown how immature they are to game announcements that do not satisfy them. This isn’t even an issue with Diablo Immortal. Smash Ultimate, Artifact, and Battlefield V as just some of the more recent examples of rabid fan bases who overreact to poorly received announcements. It’s fine if you want to voice disappointment in a product or company. I do it all the time when it comes to EA as of late. But to regularly spam social media channels with “SKATE 4” or spam Blizzard videos with “Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Delete This 凸( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)凸 Hey Blizzard Dele” is the dumbest thing I see on a regular basis. It just shows how truly immature the gaming community is and how stupid rabid fans become when they have a mob mentality on a video game. Maybe it is the anonymity of the internet that lets people make these kinds of accusations or maybe it is internet culture as a whole. But you should make your own assumptions on a video game AFTER you have tried it yourself. And so I decided to do just that.
I visited the Diablo Immortal kiosks shortly after the end of the Diablo Q&A. From my 30 minutes with the game I will admit it surpassed what I expected of it, but I will say my expectations bottomed out by the time I reached the Diablo area. Luckily nobody else cared enough to even try Diablo Immortal so I found myself in an empty line. It isn’t a bad mobile game by any stretch of the imagination. It just isn’t anything. When you look at other highly profitable mobile games from AAA companies like FortNite or PUBG you can see immediately that the quality of the product is present. Diablo Immortal had some control issues such as the skills all being shoved to the bottom right of the phone screen and the map taking a lot of the upper right portion of the screen. I also experienced a loss of movement control at one point during the demo but I will chalk that up to phone issues until proven a common issue. Like I said before the game wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t the amazing Diablo experience I remember from Diablo II.
Blizzards other titles
It hurts to see fans being turned away from Blizzard games as a whole in regards to this announcement. Blizzard had a strong Blizzcon in all other aspects to their first party IPs. Overwatch released a new short movie and introduced a brand new character in Ashe. World of Warcraft seems to be amplifying the ‘war’ portion of the name with Alliance and Horde heading into direct conflict with one another. Anduin and Saurfang seem to be working for peace between the two factions, but we will see how that fairs out. Hearthstone reveals its next expansion to the raving approval of its fanbase and while I stopped playing the game it still sees success for its current fans. Heroes of the Storm announced its first ever original hero and the crowd roared with approval. I never realized how much people cared about Heroes of the Storm until Blizzcon but it seems to have a large fanbase to thrive from.
And of course Warcraft 3: Reforged was announced.
The decibels on the arena must have broken records.
If ever was there a time to contemplate the making of Warcraft IV Blizzard should have realized it at that moment.
Despite the mentality currently circulating among the Diablo community I’m fairly certain Diablo Immortal will do well unless we have an event like Battlefront 2. Mobile gaming is on the rise and we shouldn’t expect triple AAA mobile games to detract from our normal gaming experiences. FortNite and PUBG continue to see success in the console and PC space, Animal Crossing is being developed for the Switch despite a mobile game also existing in a similar space, Elder Scrolls: Blades and Gears of War Pop race forward to completion, and companion apps continue to be developed for titanic games such as Red Dead Redemption 2. On top of that mobile gaming has never been greater with Donut County, Dragalia Lost, and so on being released this year. My recommendation is to give Diablo Immortal a shot. If it is not your cup of tea then feel free to voice that. But do it in a civilized manner and maybe the gaming community and developers would have more sympathy regarding your opposition.
The next step
Where does Diablo go from here? Diablo Immortal will certainly come out to negative fanfare. But I’m fairly certain Diablo Immortal will do well for financials and shareholders. And with Diablo IV almost certainly in development I’m sure the future of Diablo is in good hands. I walked out of the opening ceremony dejected but walked out of Blizzcon unsure. Will Diablo be able to turn it around or fall into obscurity? Only time will tell.