By now most gamers should know that Blizzard Entertainment just announced Diablo Immortal, the developer’s first official mobile game based on the Diablo IP. Co-developed with long-time Chinese partner NetEase, Diablo Immortal has gotten tons of flak since being revealed to a very negative crowd over at the BlizzCon event. While it is definitely gamers’ rights to voice their displeasure, I would like to break down some of the core reasons for the disdain and add some of my personal thoughts towards this mobile game.
Players are pissed that Diablo Immortal is not for the PC system
Most of Blizzard’s core fans are PC purists, and it definitely irked them when Diablo Immortal features a new story, new zones, etc but the game is built for mobile devices. Diablo was started on the PC decades ago, and players would naturally want any game in the series with new content to be PC-first. Certainly a fair argument, the last thing you want is to isolate the community which helped build the franchise over the years.
Players are worried that Diablo Immortal will follow the route of other mobile games
Mobile games generally has a bad reputation as cash-grab applications on mobile devices due to sales of power made readily available. This does not help that the Diablo Immortal is co-developed by Chinese powerhouse NetEase, a region where players are used to Pay-to-Win mechanics (despite complaints). The auction system in Diablo III, which is the closet ever the game went in terms of having a Pay-to-Win feature, was universally slammed by the community. All these concerns do not bode well for Diablo Immortal’s announcement from the very beginning, and Blizzard should have expected the enormous backlash.
Players are disillusioned by Diablo III but should be more understanding
We all know how Jake Wilson destroyed Diablo III with the implementation of the auction house, the subsequent removal and massive drop in active players. In defense of Blizzard, they did mention that there will be no major announcement for Diablo at BlizzcCon before hand to curb the rumors, and confirmed several projects based on Diablo are being worked on. This is already quite something given how Blizzard is always super secretive on new titles, something the community should have already known. I personally did not expect a Diablo IV announcement, and got slammed for suggesting a mobile game will be revealed.
Seriously, deep inside, how many of you really thought that Blizzard will announce Diablo IV?
While I am also disappointed with the outcome of Diablo III, the most possible schedule I could think of, based on Blizzard’s past practices, would be a Diablo II Remaster reveal next year, followed by a Diablo IV announcement in 2020. Look, we all know how long it took for Diablo II and Diablo III to release, so let’s not kid ourselves about Diablo IV.
How Blizzard could have made Diablo Immortal easier to stomach
From my observation, most of the disdain is coming from Western gamers, the PC purists. There are already a few online games out there with cross-platform functions, allowing players to connect to the same world via different platforms, such as Windows, Android, and iOS. RuneScape and Fortnite are 2 examples. While Blizzard is a huge tech company in its own rights, it seems the thought of cross-platform never came across as an option. If Blizzard understood its players, it would have announced Diablo Immortal as a PC game, with cross-platform capability with mobile devices. At least the backlash will be controlled.
Another idea is to announce an official partnership with BlueStacks, a popular emulator PC gamers are using to play mobile games, especially those with high-end graphics and requires more controls. While this might not be as effective as the cross-platform solution, at least the announcement speech wouldn’t totally isolate the PC community. Backlash is still expected, but at least there is something to hold on to and not a totally broken rope.
Some final thoughts
Yes, I agree that Blizzard could be more sensitive when it comes to announcing Diablo Immortal after the train wreck known as Diablo III. But we really shouldn’t fault them for bringing Diablo to mobile, since it has always been the only viable franchise in its stable for such a move. At least Diablo Immortal is not some idle mobile game or match 3 casual title, right? It could do a lot worse. Let us see how the game will be monetized, and hopefully they will not add in gacha boxes with random weapons and armor pieces inside…