Nearly a year has passed since Blizzard Entertainment announced Diablo Immortal for mobile devices at BlizzCon 2018. The reaction was almost universally negative – the cinematic trailer was hit with hundreds of thousands of dislikes on YouTube. Since then, very little information has been provided on its progress, though NetEase’s CFO noted back in March that it was “pretty much ready.”
Speaking to GameSpot, Blizzard president J. Allen Brack said he feels the company did a poor job reassuring fans that it was still a PC developer. “I think the thing that we did a poor job of when we announced Diablo: Immortal was contextualizing what we think the future can be and what we think of mobile in particular,” he said.
“And I also think the key thing that was lost, that we did a poor job double emphasizing, is we are a PC developer first. And then we look for other platforms that we think are awesome that can support the types of game play experiences that resonate with the type of games and values that we want to put forth into the world. And the example of that is, there was a little bit of a backlash when we [announced] that we were going to port Diablo 3 to console as well.”
While the verdict is still out on how Blizzard plans to monetize Diablo Immortal, Brack says “we can have Blizzard values around monetization” and without sacrificing quality. Regardless, he says, “We did not do a good job in assuaging our core fanbase that we’re not abandoning PC for mobile and console.”
“It’s not hard to understand the fan reaction of, ‘I’m a Blizzard fan. Blizzard, just keep making PC games like you’ve always done. Like I like. That will make me happy.’ But, I think if you think about the world, and you think about games, it’s hard to imagine how anyone who is a core PC Blizzard fan today also has not experimented with console platforms, or mobile platforms in their career, or in their life, rather.
“If you’re a core PC gamer, then there are not an insignificant number of mobile games that don’t have a great reputation. We’ve seen these games, and we’ve played these games. We’ve played games that we feel like are predatory when it comes to monetization, that are not the most fun experience that we could imagine, and not that there’s anything wrong with that, but it’s hard [for people] to see how Blizzard is still Blizzard on that platform.”
Diablo Immortal is actually handled by a separate development team and takes “inspiration” from some of NetEase’s other titles. Blizzard has confirmed that it has multiple Diablo projects in development, and rumours have noted that Diablo 4 was shown to Blizzard employees in June. Time will tell what shape it could take, especially since the game was rumoured to be a Dark Souls-style experience at one point.
BlizzCon 2019 takes place from November 1st to 2nd. Virtual tickets are currently on sale for $49.99.