Yesterday was the opening ceremony of BlizzCon, where we saw a new WoW and Hearthstone expansions, new Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch characters, and a Warcraft 3 remaster. We also got our promised Diablo closing announcement, which was Diablo Immortal, a mobile game that aims to translate a version of the ARPG into the one device everyone already owns.
While such an announcement was never going to bring the house down, the way that many fans have reacted to even the idea of the game has been awful, resulting in some of the most cringeworthy “gamer” moments I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of those.
There’s the usual online stuff like endless upset reddit threads and a YouTube trailer that is drowning in dislikes (6K/180K ratio, wow). But there’s also one video making the rounds where during the Diablo Q&A session with the developers, a fan (“fan”) gets up and asks if Diablo Immortal is “an early April Fool’s joke.”
What the hell, man.
Between this and a few other live hostile reactions I’ve seen at BlizzCon, I have to interject and say that everyone needs to calm down and grow up about Diablo Immortal. Diablo 3 is my most played game in history (2,000+ hours, I believe?), so yes, I do have a stake in this.
First of all, Blizzard went out of their way to pretty much say outright that they were not going to show Diablo 4 at BlizzCon ahead of time. They didn’t name it, but the implication that they know everyone wants news about the true next installment of the series, but that it would have to come later. So we really should not have been expecting it to close the show (though even a title card could have gone a long way). Knowing that, it stood to reason that the promised Diablo announcements were probably going to be a D1/D2 remaster or a mobile title. It was the latter, and as such, not exactly a surprise.
Sure, I am not head over heels about the idea, but:
- I didn’t think Blizzard could make Diablo work on console either, and that turned out to be fantastic.
- I don’t see anything wrong with at least attempting to make a Diablo mobile game, as if it sucks, people can simply…not play it.
- Again, we know that Blizzard is working on a true Diablo sequel, and this was a separate team building out Diablo Immortal. The fact that this exists is not taking anything away from D4.
- Given how much garbage currently exists on mobile if Blizzard can pull this off and make it even a little bit as addicting and fun as a traditional Diablo game, I’m down with making it my go-to phone game for at least a little while.
With all this said, there are certainly some legitimate criticisms you can make of this idea and what’s been seen/heard/demoed so far:
- It is not unreasonable for people to be skeptical of mobile titles given again, how much pay-to-win, pay-not-to-wait, etc. garbage there is out there in the space. The assumption is that there will be some kind of element like that in Immortal, and Blizzard did nothing to spell out how monetization would or would not work in the announcement.
- Even if Blizzard did do well with a console port of D3, a mobile game is another story, and I worry about the potential depth and controls. Early reports from those who got their hands on it are mixed, some saying it’s fun, others saying it’s been way, way oversimplified, and key systems like gearing and inventory remain unfinished. Not ideal.
- Blizzard partnered with NetEase for this game, and Immortal does look a whole lot like another NetEase other mobile title, 2017’s Crusaders of Light. While Immortal is certainly more than a simple reskin, it’s not exactly a great look for a concept players are skeptical about to begin with.
- This was not the best announcement to close the main stage show with, given that it was bound to produce a somewhat muted reaction at best, and a hostile one at worst. Then again there wasn’t all that much huge news elsewhere, I suppose.
But even if there are valid questions to be asking about Diablo Immortal, much of the hate I’ve seen about it feels way, way over the top, once again projecting the worst about “gamer” culture in an era when I hoped we were slowly, finally starting to get past this kind of immaturity. We’re not, I guess, and trying to be an edgelord and “own” a developer trying to show off their work like this is just gross, no matter what you might think of the concept. This will no doubt be framed as me trying to “defend a billion dollar company,” but I view it as just…being a normal human being. Clearly I am also critical of the idea, but torching the developers like this, to their faces even, is not “brave,” it’s nasty and petty. And it’s even worse than entire segments of the gaming population are now holding up “April Fool’s” guy as some kind of hero of the people.
I remain admittedly skeptical about Diablo Immortal, but I at least hope it turns out to be something worthwhile, and I certainly understand why Blizzard wants to dive deeper into the mobile scene, as they would be crazy not to. But Diablo has been notoriously hard to monetize with microtransactions as they just don’t really fit into a game like this, and given that Immortal needs to probably be supported entirely by microtransactions on mobile, that’s…concerning.
Still, I’ll give it a chance. If it sucks, it sucks, and I will tell you it sucks. But I won’t act like a child being purposefully awful to the developer trying to make it work.