Blizzard says that they expected there to be some backlash following the reveal of new mobile game Diablo: Immortal, but they weren’t quite expecting this level of backlash.
“We know our audience here is passionately PC- and console-focused. We’ve also seen this before,” said Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham to Kotaku. “We saw a similar response when we announced that we were bringing Diablo to console, and we saw a similar response to the announcement of Hearthstone… I understand their feeling and wish we could share more about all the amazing things we’re doing, not just with the Diablo franchise but across the company as a whole.”
The response that Adham is referring to includes some absolutely vicious replies across various Diablo fan forums, people flat-out booing the reveal of Diablo: Immortal (which occurred at Blizzard’s own event no less), and one fan going so far as to ask the developers during a Q&A session if Immortal is a late April Fool’s joke. Why are so many people upset about Immortal? It’s partially based on the general hatred towards mobile games and their tendency to feature shady monetization systems, but it’s also based on information that suggests that Immortal is an outsourced project that will heavily resemble an existing Asian mobile game.
Put it all together, and you’ve got fans wondering if Blizzard has lost their minds and their ways. Said fans include Mark Kern, a former producer on Diablo II.
“There is nothing wrong with having a mobile version of Diablo. In fact, I would have wanted one as an option,” said Kern on Twitter. “But the way it was hinted at, and presented, and the failure of Blizzard management to predict the backlash caught me my surprise. Blizzard used to be really gamer-driven”. Kern went on to say that when he was at Blizzard, “I would have had a line of devs outside my door telling me [the Immortal reveal] was a bad move.”
Kern’s statements summarize the Immortal issue in the minds of fans rather well. The problem isn’t that Diablo is going mobile, the problem is that this particular mobile title and the way it was revealed do not in any way represent the Blizzard that we’ve come to know. It feels like a largely lazy product that most certainly isn’t Diablo IV. Blizzard could have at least headed some of this trouble off at the pass by teasing Diablo IV at Blizzcon similar to how Bethesda teased Starfield and The Elder Scrolls VIat E3 2018.