Saddle up, this is one you’ll be telling to your kids about.
So Blizzcon happened. A lot of fun stuff happened, as per usual—new Heartstone expansion has been announced and it looks cool (the tune for the trailer is freakin’ amazing by the way, as always), they’re giving away Destiny 2 for free if you log into Battle.net during this week and the next (make a mental note of that by the way), there was some Overwatch stuff and in general it was… Fun. You know, like a convention is. You heard about fun, right?
Things came to a head though when the time came for Diablo and, well… The rest is Legend. Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal, a mobile title outsourced to NetEase (a Chinese mobile game company that thankfully people are finally starting to recognize). Conceptually it’s more of an MMO than a coop hack & slash, with full on boss raids and all that good stuff.
Aaaand that’s it. No announcements about the remasters, nothing about Diablo 4 or even a new expansion for now mostly barren Diablo 3. Yeeeah, you can imagine how that wouldn’t have gone well with the fans. Which just shows how you’re more in touch with the Diablo fanbase then Blizzard is, and unlike them you can recall the follow-up to EA announcing Command and Conquer mobile during E3. And you’re probably not even a Diablo fan, so how this went over their heads is frankly inexplicable.
At the time of writing this, the trailer for Diablo Immortal has been removed and re-uploaded several times (at least once to my knowledge, but it’s difficult to say exactly how many times because the comments keep appearing and disappearing and all variables, views, likes etc. keep fluctuating), because the comments are positively teaming with hate and the like/dislike bar looks like a Sith lightsaber. Seeing this without context, you’d think a humanitarian crisis of some sort was happening or something.
This re-uploading and tampering with the numbers is understandable of course, this sort of outburst is unwarranted, no matter how passionate you are about Diablo, so don’t pretend like this is “censorship” or something. It’s a solid solution to a real problem. I wish we had a better solution, but we don’t. I also wish we didn’t have this problem, but we do.
Now to be entirely fair to Blizzard, they specifically said there is no Diablo 4 in the making, so that one is on us. Buuut just to throw a wrench into this, their various influencers, people explicitly working for Blizzard, certainly did everything they could to hype everybody up (with some going as far as to insinuate that Blizzard denying Diablo 4 is just them trying to keep the surprise). This culminated in one of the fans standing up during the announcement and asking if this was supposed to be an out-of-season April’s Fools prank. It wasn’t and it isn’t.
It’s an absolute quagmire. On the one hand, Blizzard certainly tried to build up the hype with their fanbase for Diablo and nobody can deny them passion. A lot of them reportedly traveled to California solely for Diablo. You can also understand how a mobile game isn’t exactly what they wanted.
On the other hand, it IS Diablo and an argument could be made that if big companies don’t actually start making quality products for the mobile market, it’s just going to die. Yes, there’s a self-serving element to this, the mobile market is a veritable gold-mine, but in a properly working industry, this self-severing drive is the impetus to create quality games. And I don’t know about you, I sort of want quality games on the mobile market, whether you like it or not mobile gaming and streaming is the future. Well, more like present, actually.
Point is, in this story, there is no winners. Everyone involved was a varying degree of thoughtless and the blast radius is enormous. I’m sitting here with my popcorn and I encourage you to do the same.