BlizzCon 2018: Blizzard defends Diablo Immortal, hints at more Diablo projects on the way

    
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You know, it can really be your jong.

“I’d like to thank April Fools Guy for setting off what’s sure to be two solid weeks of hand-wringing over the time/place etiquette of criticism in video games.” This was my immediate takeaway from the Diablo What’s Next panel at BlizzCon yesterday, and my sole misjudgment there was probably that it’ll last only two weeks.

As we wrote last night, the Diablo community has gone into near total meltdown mode over the announcement of Diablo Immortal, which was positioned in the BlizzCon opening ceremonies as the big announcement but basically came off as the equivalent of “be sure to drink your Ovaltine” as it wasn’t Diablo 4 at all but a NetEase mobile-only spinoff. Not only did one fan take it out on the devs on stage during the subsequent panel, asking Team Diablo whether the game was an April Fools’ joke, but we’ve now seen vote-bombing on YouTube, a petition demanding the game be canceled, and Twitter wars over gamer entitlement and toxicity vs. corporate greed and out-of-touch-ness.

Polygon has up a fresh interview today with Blizzard’s Allen Adham and Dan Eggren that naturally inquires about the mess. Adham says flat-out that Immortal is intended to focus on the mobile market, particularly younger gamers and gamers around the world for whom “mobile is their primary gaming device” – though as we’ve seen, maybe not so much the kinds of folks who shell out for BlizzCon. He also clearly believes that gamers need to play it to love it and admits Blizzard wasn’t oblivious to the potential for reception of the game to go poorly.

“We’ve had many conversations — and I’m sure we’ll have many more actually in the aftermath of this — about the strategy of weaving mobile gaming into our BlizzCon audience, which is a very passionate desktop PC and console audience. We had a fairly similar reaction when we announced Hearthstone; if you think back to the Hearthstone announcement at Gamescom [Editor’s note: It was actually PAX East; we were there!] our audience at the time, [fans were] a bit unsure of what to expect from a digital card game given our history of making other game types. But then if you look at our history, part of what we do at Blizzard over many years is make different games and different genres, one after another on different platforms. So we’ve done this for a long time, and it usually starts with a little bit of sort of uncertainty and then we win [over] our community over time.”

Eggren appears to reject claims that Immortal is just a reskin of other NetEase titles, saying that it was “created from the ground up” specifically for Diablo.

Finally, Adham reminds everybody that other Diablo “projects” are still in development as “Diablo is a tentpole franchise” for the studio and “always will be.” So maybe we can freak-out a little bit less for now. (Yeah, probably not.)

Source: Polygon
Follow all of Massively OP’s coverage of BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard’s annual fan convention highlighting World of Warcraft, Diablo III, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and beyond!

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MrNastyButler

This is really one of those times that the hype department didn’t think things through. Saying there is a announcement for Diablo was a mistake. It should have been something more to temper the fans but stating clearly it is not Diablo IV related. If they had taken some time to make it clear it’s not something the fans want, you’ll get more of the fans you want there. The ones that are curious what it could be.

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Carebear

Not only that but also diablo being the first stage after opening ceremony..even before wow stage or classic wow.. all that lead to people expect something big.

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draugris

I mean what did Blizzard and the press expect? Blizzard itself stoked up the hype for a great Diablo announcement at Blizzcon.

Now what kind of people do attend Blizzcon ? Only the very hardcore Blizzard Fans do that considering the prices for the ticket and considering the effort to go there. These people are PC or Console players mainly and from what I heard they had either one of two expectations. Diablo 4 or a remastered version of Diablo 2. Blizzard was fully aware of that. So how in the world can they be surprised this announcement was received bad by the audience, it´s delusional.

I am also really surprised that Bree had so many negative things to say about the dude in the red shirt. Was he constructive? No, but can´t you understand the disappointment of the fans? They have gone all the way to Anaheim for that “Big” announcement and all they got is a reskinned game from a Chinese developer who has a really really bad reputation ( you should read what Chinese gamers have to say about NetEase btw.) .

wow4lyfe
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wow4lyfe

Heartstone wasn’t just a mobile exclusive game, it was also on PC… If the company wasn’t so out of touch with the gaming community, all they had to do was add a PC version for Immortal.

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Armsman

Except they wouldn’t do that unless Immortal did something the existing PC versions of Diablo didn’t already do. Immortal is their first attempt at bringing the Diablo franchise to the mobile phone platform.

I think their only mistake was how and WHERE they announced it. They should have known PC gamers aren’t going to take a ‘mobile phone version of Diablo’ announcement well, when it’s hyped as the only ‘major new announcement’.

I’m not saying they shouldn’t have announced it at Blizzcon, but they shouldn’t have made it the MAJOR announcement and hyped said announcement the way they did at what is primarily a PC gamer convention.

It clearly shows their marketing dept. is out of touch in that area.

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Jiminy Smegit

I read an interesting comment on reddit from a Chinese gamer who said that over in China they called Netease “pig farm” because they treat their customers like pigs instead of humans. China is somewhat accepting of the wallet-gouging microtransaction model but apparently Netease are considered scum over there.

I know people are mad about Blizzard trying to sell a mobile game to a PC gamer audience but I think the partner they chose is more disturbing. Its a pretty clear indication of the direction that Blizzard will be taking from now on.

Its up to gamers to vote with their wallets and support indie gaming because I dont really see where else any innovation is going to come from.

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Schmidt.Capela

Double meaning, actually. NetEase owns a pig farm, making the label technically true in a literal sense, though the intent behind its usage is as you pointed.

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Neiloch Fyrestarter

Is it ‘vote-bombing’ if a lot of people just plain don’t like it? I submit it is no different than people just voting honestly

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Stovakor21

I think the decision for that to be the Diablo Blizcon announcements was there biggest screw up. they been hyping up diablo stuff on twitter and other games for awhile now. They knew the community wanted something big diablo .. I think they should of just teased a vid of D4 or even the logo to show they are working on it would of been 100x better than some crappy mobile game . The mobile game could of been a random anouncement on there b.net APP when it was near launch and it prob would of been like w/e for most people . People paid a ton of money to go blizzcon/ watch and blizz just spit in there face.

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Bryan Correll

Immortal is intended to focus on the mobile market, particularly younger gamers

If you’re stuck in a hole, stop digging. All previous Diablo games were rated M violence, blood and gore, and (in D3’s case) partial nudity.* It’s the one Blizzard franchise that was definitely not for kids.

*Which seems odd, because I’m fairly sure it had no more nudity than the previous game. Maybe it took improved graphics for the ESRB to notice.

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thirtymil

The Butcher’s room in Diablo 1 was full of naked/half-naked dead people if I recall correctly, and it’s ESRB rating says “Animated Blood and Gore, Animated Violence”.

So yes, I guess it’s either a case of how pixellated it is, or maybe the Butcher killed them so quickly they didn’t notice the room, as in my first encounter :)

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Bryan Correll

This NSFW satirical piece also discusses the prevalence of succubi in Diablo.

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kalech

Hm, I dunno. They seem to think that the biggest issue was that people don’t like mobile games, which isn’t necessarily the issue. The issue was that they hyped up a big announcement for diablo infront of content-starved fans only to tell them they’re basically getting jack shit.
I think the fans have a right to be upset although I also think they’re massively overreacting right now.
Adham’s comments makes me think Blizzard is still pretty clueless about what they did wrong though. The Immortal announcement would’ve probably gone down fine if only they had given fans a hint of something else, kinda like how Bethesda did with Blades/TES6.

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Schmidt.Capela

Sure, it’s not that people don’t like it.

Rather, you have a big developer whose only mobile product up to now was a card game, and even that was also available for PC. One whose average fan despises mobile and embraces gaming PCs and current-gen consoles. So, yeah, it should be bloody obvious that the average Blizzard fan isn’t into mobile games.

If you are a restaurant chain specialized in barbecue, I think a convention of your most loyal customers is the wrong place to announce a new vegan franchise. You aren’t going to please your existing customer base with that announcement, you are seeking new customers, and you should announce it where those new customers congregate instead of announcing it to your existing customers you know are going to take the news poorly.

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Ben Stone

They did a big long winded post basically saying they weren’t announcing D4 long before Blizzcon, tempering everyone’s expectations. Anyone going in expecting that was delusional.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Sure, but didn’t they also say they had a “major announcement” for the Diablo franchise at the same time? Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but I was sure that was part of their statement for this Blizzcon.

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John Kiser

And a mobile Diablo game would be considered a major announcement to them. I don’t know why folks don’t realize just how big mobile is. Yes, they should of shown or said “hey we are working on more stuff and will have things to show you soon from ouir other projects”, but the amount of vitrol and shit just because they announced a mobile game instead is getting a bit ridiculous.

Fanboys need to step the hell back and realize that they are not the be all end all of everything. The gaming industry scope does not start and end with us on massivelyop.com, mmorpg.com, any other online site, or even with the people that attend blizzcon. Mobile has a presence larger than PC and Console combined at this point and faulting blizzard for attempting to expand diablo’s presence beyond PC/Console is just asinine. The more money they get the more they can toss into other projects

Somehow a mobile game just doesn’t count as a major announcement because some people feel they have a right to dictate a lot of shit. I may or may not play it and I don’t necessarily like that they announced this at blizzcon, but at the same time I find the amount of shit going on to be a bit insane.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

A mobile game made primarily for an audience not even in attendance really isn’t a major announcement, especially for a “keystone franchise” (their words) like Diablo. A keystone franchise that somehow sees less content as a B2P game (from one of the biggest studios & publishers in the industry) than a competing F2P game from an indie studio.

I don’t care one bit whether you or anyone else plays mobile or not. I’m not talking about the viability of Immortal as a game, I’m talking about the context of *where* that announcement was made. It is *not* a major announcement for Blizzcon, no more than D3 on Switch would have been if *that* had been their “major announcement.”

Oh and by the way, if the rumors from Kotaku are true: the mobile game was definitely NOT the intended major announcement :)

https://kotaku.com/sources-blizzard-pulled-diablo-4-announcement-from-bli-1830232246

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Nathan Aldana

they only made that announcement /after. they made vague statements of “big news at blizzcon” that they seemingly realized got the fans too hyped

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Vunak23

I think April Fools guy was awesome.

Sorry but when you hype up your audience months prior to something. Know all your Diablo fans are all PC gamers. Look at the disappointment that was Diablo 3. Look at the things people have asked for in Diablo 3. Have people book travel, tickets, etc. All in the anticipation of this big announcement of the Diablo franchise. To only announce something PC gamers absolutely hate, which is mobile cash grab BS and especially from NetEase, notorious P2W. They are going to ruffle some feathers. Gamers/Fans don’t have much of a way to show their disappointment, not really. To confront the developers in that way absolutely showed the disappointment that the fans had at BlizzCon, especially with the massive cheers he received and later on the Boo’s Blizzard and the devs received when they said they had no PC plans.

Even if they guy had asked about Diablo IV or other Diablo projects do you reaaaally think they would of said, “Oh yeah sure we have some great plans for Diablo IV and other Diablo projects.” Nope, they just would of said exactly what they did, we have plans for the Diablo franchise and left it as generalized as absolutely possible. Sorry but interviewing 101 doesn’t always work when you are trying to get a message to the developers that what they are pushing is not anything what the fans want. Sometimes shock and awe is the only way to really make a point.

Not to mention Blizzards own condescending remarks asking people if they even had phones.

I felt the exact same way when they announced this mobile pos. “Is this a joke?” were my exact thoughts.

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Slaasher

Yeah I get what you mean but I questions whether Blizzard “hyped” everyone for months beforehand.
They made a couple of Diablo announcements. They were fairly vague, indicating multiple projects in the future.
The hype came from the media and the fans.
I think many times we torture ourselves then blame the game companies when they don’t deliver on the hype that the community (and media) created.

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Schmidt.Capela

They released a video hyping the Diablo community a couple months before Blizzcon, telling about the multiple projects and that they might have something good to show on Blizzcon. Also, the way they asked players to temper down their hype was almost identical to how they asked players to not read too much into the Diablo Switch tease before going out and announcing the Switch version. So, yeah, they did hype the community and failed to temper down expectations.

(Ironically, the video was also about the first of the themed Diablo 3 seasons, “Season of Greed”. It’s a quite appropriate name for the video that built up hype for the announcement of a bloody mobile game co-developed by one of the greediest, most insidious proponents of P2W in the whole industry.)

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Michael18

If anything, this quote further shows how little Blizzard understands its core audience. The Hearthstone announcement is a completely different story.