Blizzard Roundup: NetEase on Diablo Immortal’s launch, plus news on HOTS, Hearthstone, and Overwatch

    
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Uh...huh.

MMO Culture has an interesting translated bit from the NetEase conference call last week that homes in on Diablo Immortal, the game that was everyone’s punchline for a few weeks back before games industry layoffs stole the narrative. When asked by anaylists about the mobile MMORPG’s launch, the Chinese company said the game is fully prepared from NetEase’s side with no launch date issues on NetEase’s end – that it aims to announce a launch date simultaneously with Blizzard.

That was MMO Culture’s translation of the original Mandarin answer, anyway. The English translation as posted by NetEase itself has a bit more to it than the NetEase executives actually appear to have said on the call.

Diablo Immortal, we are the co-developer on that game together with Blizzard. As to the exact launch timetable, I would encourage markets (?) to direct the question directly to Activision Blizzard as from a co-developer’s perspective, the game development is pretty much ready. Of course, there is always be space for us to optimize and enhance, but it is not any concern that the development side will cause any potential delay.”

Huh. It’s sort of the same thing, but it’s also sort of like one of those things where you didn’t even suspect there was a delay until they volunteered that there wasn’t a delay. Then again, if Blizzard really is holding up the train, it’d be no surprise, given that earlier this month it suffered gargantuan layoffs.

In other Blizzard news, Heroes of the Storm developers have finally posted up a schedule for planned AMAs, the first of which is set for next Wednesday and is expected to focus on balance and matchmaking. “Additionally, we have seen the concerns about the impact some recent changes have had on the state of the Heroes AI,” Community Manager Dylan Bates writes. “Our goal was to make some improvements, but as with many things in game development, things don’t necessarily go as planned. We apologize for the trouble and are working on hotfixes to repair the AI while keeping as many of our original improvements as possible. We are going to continue iterating on ways to improve AI, but we’ll provide updates when we have more information to share.”

Over in Hearthstone, Blizzard announced the Year of the Dragon, with ranked ladder improvements, promises for balance updates, new ranks, revamped solo play, and finally, the removal of two cards people are apparently sick of: Baku the Mooneater and Genn Greymane.

“Baku and Genn are powerful cards that have promoted new strategies since their introduction in the metagame. Those strategies have been more prevalent than we’d intended in Standard, and we felt that they might end up overshadowing what we’re going to introduce in the Year of the Dragon. In order for set rotation to breathe new life into Standard and maintain overall health of the ladder, we are rotating Baku and Genn into the Hall of Fame a year earlier than normal.”

Reddit rejoices.

Finally, some Overwatch players are reportedly harassing the voice actress behind Brigitte, one of the heroes currently maligned by some players who hate the GOATS meta (basically all tanks and healers), which obviously she has literally nothing to do with. This is why we can’t have nice things.

Thanks, Pepperzine!

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Bruno Brito

the Chinese company said the game is fully prepared from NetEase’s side

A carbon-copy game being ready for launch so quickly?

I’m shocked.

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blahlbinoa .

NetEase’s “game development” is ready because it’s already a game over in China that they just put Diablo skins on. And it also seems like Hearthstone is blatantly stealing Elder Scrolls Online’s tagline Year of the Dragon.

Leyaa1
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Leyaa1

Great to see some comments on AI in HOTS. Has really worsened in the last couple of month.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Why not harass Activision instead? That’s like harassing a fastfood worker because you despise the fastfood corporation.

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Greaterdivinity

Having worked minimum wage gigs like that, if only that were the case. The amount of complaining I had to deal with as a bagger from folks who thought I handled everything from orders to scheduling of staff (chronically under-staffed) and a host of other issues never ceased to amaze me. Yes I, a 16 year old kid bagging groceries and wrangling carts, am the PERFECT person to complain about how a store is managed or the companies corporate decisions. CLEARLY : |

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Schmidt.Capela

It’s common in nearly every position that directly interacts with customers; many of them think you either are responsible for company failings that would be utterly impossible for you to cause even if you tried, tasked with solving issues that unequivocally are not part of your job description and you can’t even start solving without risking your job, or have enough power to change policies that are way, way above your pay grade.

Veldara
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Veldara

The harassment of the voice actress just makes me facepalm at how many in the gaming community can be utterly clueless morons. But then again I doubt it’s about misplaced aggression with balancing issues and more about sticking it to the “dur sjws”.

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Schmidt.Capela

Well, I’ve seen reports of actors that play a villain in a popular soap opera being threatened in the real world for actions the character they play did, so I’m keenly aware of how some fans can be utter morons.

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IronSalamander8 .

Harassing the voice actress is disturbing and pointless. What exactly is she supposed to do about the meta they’re upset about? Post on the forums that you feel the meta needs adjusting, don’t go off on nasty tirades against anyone, but it’s surreal that they somehow think it’s her fault in the first place.

I gotta agree with Armsbend’s earlier post, it makes me cringe at the gaming community that crap like this happens.

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Armsbend

1000 of gaming’s feel good stories do not make up for one of these in my mind. And there are endlessly more of these stories than feel good stories.

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Schmidt.Capela

It would be really nice if it this kind of idiotic behavior was restricted to the gaming community…

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BalsBigBrother

That Overwatch story makes me sad and I feel really sorry for the voice actress. Even if she only receives one such negative message its one too many.

The meta is what the players make it with the characters that Blizzard provide she has nothing to do with that other than giving a voice which has no impact on how the hero is played.

Then again first hand experience of some Overwatch players who will literally blame everyone but themselves for things not going well. Of course they are awesome (in their own mind) so it can’t be them. Funny how such players never appear on the potg or the summary at the end but that will never their fault.

Sigh ….. I do enjoy Overwatch but it is rare I can play it without having to block someone or other for being rude or offensive. Gamers really can be their own worst enemies.

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John Kiser

It’s just seemingly FPS players and a lot of MOBA players anymore. The community is flat out gone in FPS which just breeds toxicity and esports has brought these game types more main stream which also builds toxicity as mainstream internet denizens tend to act like they have no god damned sense due to anonymity

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Greaterdivinity

The D:I news is fascinating, and while mobile development cycles are a lot shorter it actually lends more credibility to the arguments that the game was in development long before Blizzcon (some of the comments from Blizz staff made it sound like development started recently at the show so rumors spread).

I imagine that even without the layoffs they would have held off for a bit to get further away from the drama of the reveal, hopefully get another win under their belt (specifically for Diablo) so when they launched it they’d have some more positive news to deflect the inevitable flood of criticism they’d receive.

Oh well, I’ll still likely play it regardless. Just hoping it has an autoplay option because I ain’t got time to actually play mobile games!

Also, been sorta following that story about Brigitte’s voice actress and it fucking sucks. Both because it’s sadly usually women that get to “enjoy” the brunt of this kind of hate and more because holy shit how fucking stupid are the people harassing her? It’s like the idiots going after the actress that played Rose in The Last Jedi – the actresses/actors don’t write the material (though may have feedback) or design the game/movie, they’re there to act and both did fine jobs. Issues with writing or balance are purely elsewhere, but these fucking mouthbreathers just seem to love harassing women. Probably because for many, that’s the only time they can get a woman to notice them.

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Schmidt.Capela

Blizzard tends to only announce new games when the chance of them being cancelled or substantially changed is about nil, which suggests the game was almost ready.

And then there is the suspicion that Diablo Immortal is basically a reskinned version of one of NetEase’s already existing games with a few tweaks and Blizzard-supplied art assets adapted from Diablo 3; this is how NetEase usually makes new games, as virtually all their mobile online action RPGs are reskins of previous games with a few tweaks and additions, and there’s nothing to suggest they would take a different (and more expensive) approach in Diablo Immortal.

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Songs for Children

It probably won’t, but I hope DI flops in the west, and I hope the Chinese government doesn’t allow the game in China. Cash-grab games belong in the trash.

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John Kiser

All games exist to make money unless you are making it purely as an artistic expression. Hell almost all forms of entertainment for that matter exist to make money. Maybe stay away from stuff if you feel that way? While I’m not thrilled at Diablo Immortal blizzard needs to move into mobile to see more growth ultimately.

People also need to remember that while netease is developing the game blizzard is still in charge of any sort of business plan with it. Let’s actually wait and see what is going on with it. I’m not particularly happy, but willing to try it.

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Songs for Children

I plan on staying away. Thanks for the not-at-all-obvious suggestion, friend!

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Bruno Brito

blizzard needs to move into mobile to see more growth ultimately.

No, it doesn’t. Big companies screwed the mobile gaming scene, and the tendency is that it’ll get worse.

Companies don’t need to make money by moving to more predatory grounds. They need to make money by making better fucking games. These companies move billions of dollars every month. Can we stop feeding into this “poor poor company” narrative already?

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John Kiser

And this is why you don’t own a business and never will own a business. The whole backseat CEO bullshit your type spew is nauseating. You don’t even understand what the term growth means in the narrative of a company. A publicly traded company answers to shareholders ultimately and shareholders ultimately are going to want more money coming into a business.

The growth into mainstream pc and console gaming has largely hit a maturation level and doesn’t really have huge areas to grow into at this point and making “better fucking games” doesn’t help them expand into markets that are currently seeing a massive boon to growth frequently.

You seem to be under this delusion that what you think is how things happen to be and I’m guessing no one ever has told you that reality exists outside of you. Companies don’t sit in lala land waiting for people like you to actually grow up and realize that the world exists outside of themselves.

Companies always seek growth and there is a market for mobile games. Just because you believe something will get worse or that big companies screwed the mobile gaming scene and have this hate rager for mobile gaming (quite evident I might add) doesn’t mean a company has to pander and not try and expand into that realm if it helps them grow financially and helps people actually invested in the company by having the stock do better.

Saying “no it doesn’t” simply completely and utterly ignores reality in every possible way you might as well be saying “nuh uh mister, they don’t gotta cuz i don’t like it”

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Armsbend

I am surprised Immortal is ready so soon. It is almost as if Netease didn’t need to do much to it for release. Like maybe it was a reskin of an existing game. But that is impossible because Activision said it wasn’t true.

On a more serious note, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around people harassing such an obviously lovely young woman. I can’t even process the stupidity of people. It makes me not want to be involved in gaming at all.

If she were my sister or daughter I’d be awfully proud of her.

zerohunt
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zerohunt

It is the internet’s favorite pass time. From old school forum flame wars to Reddit brigades, harassment will always be on the internet in some form.

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BalsBigBrother

I am never going to accept that statement and I hope others feel the same too.

Andy McAdams
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Andy McAdams

seconded. That is never going to be an acceptable response for me either.

zerohunt
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zerohunt

I don’t like it either but harassment will always be there, as it is in meat space. To get rid of it, you will change how all humans think and act.

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Armsbend

People didn’t act like that 40 years ago – if you went up to a 21 year old girl and started yammering on and on about how fat and worthless she was there was a very good chance someone would publicly knock your lights out.

Anonymity – the devil’s curse.

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John Kiser

People did act like that 40 years ago. The thing about 40 years ago is it was people around you that acted that way. It wasn’t a larger group of people (maybe some high school cliques etc at most).

I’m not even sure it’s just anonymity that is the problem. It is sadly a lot of what these kids are taught now mostly by lack of proper parenting. The kids aren’t taught to respect themselves, others, people of authority etc. If a kid gets in trouble it is the parents protecting them

They are given everything, taught they can do no wrong even when disrespectful of others and ultimately it leads to them thinking “hey I can do that online and no one will know” and honestly the more people that gaming and esports attracts the worse it is going to get.

Ultimately we will never do away with harassment be it in real life or online, but we can curb it by teaching real respect.

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Armsbend

People were mean 40 years ago yes. But there were societal norms that kept people in check. In my opinion it wasn’t nearly as bad as it is online today – and it only gets worse as cretins feel the need to lash out at SHJs or whatever.

See: the article from last week about pedos on innocuous youtube videos. That did not happen 40 years ago.

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Schmidt.Capela

Youtube didn’t exist 40 years ago.

Pedophiles grooming children through actions designed to appear innocuous did very much happen, though.

On the other hand, if you go back two centuries or more you do need to take into account how children were far less protected than now; for example, at the time Lewis Carroll allegedly took a full frontal nude picture of Alice’s older sister the age of consent was 12.

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Dobablo

People acted in line with the norms of society because society allowed and practically encouraged people to act like dicks.
These days norms discourage such behaviour but people feel more empowered to ignore the social niceties.

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Schmidt.Capela

Yeah, people did act like that even before the Internet. As I’ve said in another post, I’ve seen credible reports of actors being harassed due to actions their characters did, which is as idiotic as it gets.

The Internet only made such harassment easier.

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Armsbend

It’s easier then. I think you guys know what I mean.

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Bruno Brito

Yeah, it’s easier.

But consider that 40 years ago we still were getting marriages of 14yo girls.

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John Kiser

It wasn’t really 40 years ago that this was the norm. 40 years ago would be 79 at this point and almost into the 80’s. Marrying a 14 year old was not acceptable after the 1950’s or so so your time table was off. It was fairly common place prior to 1950 particularly during both world war I and world war II as there was a held belief that we realistically needed to make sure we were sort of “replenishing” our stock of men when we sent them over for war.

There was a fear that the men would never return and so teen brides marrying men over 18 was very very common. During the 1950’s you had a much more puritanical outlook hit suburban america and had many more values build up as a result of it that were meant to protect people.

The shocking thing is that while it’s not as common place anymore is that there are states (north carolina) where it is still legal when exceptions are taken into account. 17 states have no set age for marriage with exceptions taken into account, 2 states it is 14, 5 it is 15, 19 it is 16, and 7 it is 17 (the rest all say 18). There was a state that prior to last year allowed someone as young as 10 to marry someone and that was to someone in their late 70’s…

It is easier for pedophiles to groom now than it was for sure as their reach is much further than their local communities.

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Dobablo

*deleted*

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Bruno Brito

They did. It just wasn’t widespread. Anonimity did fan the flames a lot, but people were the same, we just didn’t had the means, now we do.

C’mon dude, you’re the chief nihilist on MOP. Are YOU telling me that human beings were worth a damn before?

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John Kiser

I’d say it wasn’t just the means. You also have a differing mindset. While there were outliers and rebels all through history for most of the time prior to the internet (and even the early days of the internet) you had people that usually followed societal norms. You have a lot more people now that are emboldened to not follow any societal norms or fear anything.

You have a generation of kids that have largely been brought up to think they can do no wrong, they are protected by their parents, and they are seldom if ever actually punished for their wrong doing. If they are obnoxious and rude to a teacher it is everyone else’s fault other than the child.

This is ultimately the issue that springs up. We do have the means now, but things are getting dramatically worse as time moves on. Those like me that have been around on the internet since the early to mid 90’s and have watched gaming culture grow from nerdy things (i’ve literally been around online games longer than the phrase MMORPG has been a thing, as it didn’t exist as a term until UO even if meridian 59 was the first game that had most of these elements). I’ve watched things degrade in online communities and in game game communities.

I’ve watched younger more mainstream users come in and just become more and more toxic the longer it has gone and the more social presence the web and gaming take the more toxic things are becoming. If we want to make things truly better we need to start with how children are parented/raised. No more of this attitude that they can’t fail and that they can do no wrong. No more giving them everything they ask for particularly when a tantrum is thrown. Actually parent and not pull the you can do whatever you want thing. I see parents that don’t want to deal with their kids saying “I don’t like that” to fruits or veggies or food the parents make and just tell the kid to eat whatever they want and these kids are woefully overweight for their age (like not even husky, but full blown obese in kindergarten at times).

Kids are raised now to be like this and if we continue down the path we are going with how we raise kids things are only going to get worse.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I can’t imagine a reskin taking that long to develop, especially if they already had the assets laying around from publishing Blizzard games in China to begin with (we all know how companies in China respect intellectual property); so basically I don’t even think this is a simple reskin as much as a left Over junk plate you make when cleaning out your fridge.

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John Kiser

People base the reskin theory on a few parts that looked reused. It doesn’t mean the full game is just a reskin. That said so what if they do reskin some elements. If the game ends up being fun and the like *shrugs*.

Pepperzine
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Pepperzine

It makes the whole situation even more insulting. Not only are they bastardizing the franchise for a mobile cash grab, they’re doing it in a half-assed manner by both outsourcing the development and then on top of that throwing a coat of paint on aspects of Crusaders of Light while calling it Diablo in order milk the fans of the franchise. That’s why it matters. It just another demonstration of how far Blizzard as a developer has fallen.