Diablo and Smash Bros. had a rough week in some corners
Sometimes, salt is justified.
I’ve covered the Destiny series since the beta period for the original and have witnessed occasions such as its developer essentially telling people to “shut up buy our game,” and an instance where they outright lied to their community.
But there’s a dark side of salt: taking leaks at face value. Leaks can also completely color expectations and dig developers (and fans) into a hole of which there is no return. That’s exactly what happened to Blizzard and Nintendo this week.
Right now, the Diablo III subreddit is (appropriately for a game about a denizen of hell), on fire. Fans expected a host of Diablo announcements and instead were met with the reveal of a mobile game. Let’s back up a bit.
I’m what you call a hardcore Diablo player. I grinded through hundreds of hours in the original, including the expansion most people probably haven’t even heard of. To say I played Diablo II for over 1000 hours is a conservative estimate. I had max-level characters for every class about a month after Diablo III launched and have stuck with it through Reaper of Souls, the Necromancer update and the recent Switch iteration. When Blizzard said to temper our expectations for BlizzCon in October and that there probably wouldn’t be a major announcement, do you know what I did? I tempered my expectations and assumed there wouldn’t be any major announcements. But the promise of leaks is too tempting for some.
A few weeks following Blizzard’s calls for calm, a major leak dropped that promised all sorts of old school Diablo related goodies. A remaster of Diablo II was enough to stoke the flames, but a perfectly believable (and still possibly in the works) Druid update for Diablo III was thrown in there. Some people even believed that Diablo 4 was possible even though it wasn’t in the leak. Anything was possible if you believed.
So when Immortal (a mobile game announcement) hit and that was it, people blew up. Here’s the thing though: Blizzard has always been a “ready when its ready, Blizzard Time” company. There are also completely separate teams working on “multiple Diablo projects.” We will get Diablo 4 one day. There was a twelve-year wait between D2 and D3. Expect to wait a little longer no matter how many fantastic sounding leaks come out between now and next November’s BlizzCon. If anything once Diablo 4 does come out my kid and many of her peers will become Diablo fans because of the accessibility of the mobile release (the jury is still out but I’m willing to give it a shot).
That’s not the only leak-related fiasco this week though. Nintendo got an earful when the “Grinch Leak” didn’t pan out. So-called because it also provided previously unseen media for the upcoming Grinch film (and thus adding to its legitimacy), Smash players expected the world from the final Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct on November 1. The Grinch Leak was the definition of a decadence, including Shadow the Hedgehog, Isaac (Golden Sun), Ken, Mach Rider, Geno, Chorus Kids (!) and Banjo-Kazooie into the mix.
Semi-believable concepts were thrown in to make it seem real, matching up with the myriad comments from Microsoft about how they want Banjo-Kazooie to enter the fray. Ken, someone who has been predicted for months on end (and was more obvious as an Echo, or, alternate fighter for the existing Ryu), did make it in, as did Incineroar (who was out of left field). No one else did and Smash boss Sakurai re-iterated that the final roster (pre-DLC) was set. The leak was bogus, but that didn’t stop Smash players from expressing their disappointment.
Not every announcement or keynote is going to be a banger: if you latch onto leaks this dearly you’re only going to get burned. Sure, we can commiserate over the particularly awful events like Sony’s recent “tent-based” E3 presentation with multiple breaks and slapdash rapid-fire trailers for stuff we’ve already seen. Leaks can be fun to talk about. But the next time someone tells you that Diablo is going to be a DLC character for Super Smash Bros. based on a joke that Blizzard made during a candid interview, pause, reflect, and consider whether or not you want to hitch your horse to that cart.