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I still remember when I found out the closed test for Diablo Immortal was only open for Australia this year, I deleted it immediately and turned over to another mobile game called “Familiar Warfare”, where I can enjoy the fun again of epic gaming experience.
Why was Diablo Immortal disliked by so many people? As always, there are multiple factors working into this and I will go through a few of them.
First off, this was definitely a pretty slow year for announcements in general for Blizzcon (already canceled twice this year). The new Overwatch character was given no lead-up hype I am aware of. Compare this to say, Sombra who had an entire “hacking” campaign around her reveal. Ashe was given far less Hype as far as I know. Her reveal also failed to impress, with the character not being particularly special in look or concept. She even LOST in her opening cinematic to McCree.
Add on to that the second biggest announcement being an HD remake of Warcraft 3, which looks at best okay. It does not even appear to have any new mechanics, maps, or anything but graphics. Even the voice acting appears to be the same actors from the original, which is BAFFLING considering that they flew Laura Bailey out to have her perform as Jaina Proudmoore LIVE, just to show video including the former voice actor in the HD remake.
And when they finally got to the Big Diablo announcement, they introduced what appeared to be a lackluster game for mobiles, and Activision-Blizzard wasn’t even making it. It feels like a spinoff or side venture, not the main headliner.
Add on to the fact that most of the people watching were obviously watching on their PCs, and most pf the people there were more hardcore Blizzard fans, and thus likely to be PC gamers, and their headliner game has “no plans at this time” (their words) to be put on PC.
The condescending “What? You don’t have phones?” line didn’t help either.
Another thing to remember is that mobile games have been a toxic concept to PC and other gamers for a while. Mobile has always been at best supplemental, and usually the source of the worst fountain of microtransactions around.
The very idea of an RPG being on a phone is also one that is a hard pill to swallow in the best of times. By nature, RPG games are immersive, so they involve being focused on the game. Thus, consoles and PCs are best for RPGs. There have been RPGs on mobile games like Bravely Default, but those have always been on dedicated mobile gaming systems like the Game Boy or PSP.
The nature of a phone game is that the game can be played for a few minutes and then put down, or at the very least PAUSED. An MMO is the exact opposite of such a concept, so the idea of an MMO on mobile is a hard sell to people used to literally every other console.
This also leads to the fact that Blizzard has had minimal push into the mobile market. The only game they have on the mobile market is Hearthstone, which was always a minor part of their studio.
Then Activision-Blizzard dove in headfirst without setting up their presence in that market. If Activision-Blizzard was smart, they would have used Hearthstone to bridge into a new game on Mobile, but that is unlikely since they are outsourcing the product anyway.
Diablo fans felt betrayed, or at the bare minimum, they felt bamboozled. Blizzard teased them big time with this BlizzCon, which I remind you COST $50 to watch live! And then they attended, either live or over the web, and are told that the new cool thing for “them” will not only not be on their preferred platform, but will only be available on a platform they likely don’t game on at all, and very likely don’t use for gaming in any serious manner. On top of that, it is a platform rife with problematic software in general, and microtransaction hell. Even worse, some may not even have a phone that meets the minimum system requirements, much less have a good data plan to keep it up.
Imagine, if you will, that there was an off-road mountain biking convention held by Yeti, one of the biggest mountain biking manufacturers in the world. Now imagine that their convention had very few exciting products, but kept teasing off-road bikers with something new. Now imagine that it turned out to be a new attachment for your CAR that allowed you to better carry an ATV. After that, imagine that they said that Yeti wasn’t going to manufacture them, just license the name to a company making the attachment. Then imagine if when asked if they were going to make a similar attachment for mountain bikes, that they had no plans at that time to make similar attachments for mountain bike carrying. Then imagine them saying in response to negativity “What, you don’t have a car?” Yes Chad, I have a car. It’s a Prius and it wouldn’t carry that ATV up an anthill if I had any desire to use ATVs, which I don’t.
According to the leak in the Blizzard Forum, Blizzard Entertainment is being dissolved early 2022. It is going to be replaced by a new team called Insight that will be a more direct part of the renamed Activision Insight. Much of Blizzard, though not all, will be sacked and replaced with new employees for Insight.
Seeing the news on the cancellation of BlizzCon Online, well, all I can say is that it’s pretty much a tragic story for Blizzard, as well as all the veterans around the world who played all the series of World of Warcraft, Diablo, and other titles.