When Blizzard held a Q&A session shortly after the announcement of their mobile game Diablo Immortal, a fan in a red shirt asked them if the announcement was “…an of out-of-season April Fool’s joke.” This was just the start of the major backlash Blizzard faced from enraged fans, as they learned that Hell hath no fury like a fan scorned.
It’s pretty apparent that fans were hoping for something else, like a remaster of one of the older Diablo games or an announcement for Diablo 4. The fact that the announcement was a mobile game is causing many of them to believe Blizzard is abandoning PC and console for mobile, thus abandoning the fans who supported the Diablo series from its beginnings. It’s telling how many people are angered by the like/dislike ratio on the game’s announcement trailer. As of this article’s publication, it has 15k likes and 395k dislikes.
While the disappointment in not getting a major entry is understandable, Blizzard gave fair warning in a pre-con blog post. The blog post, made to temper the expectations of the fans, clarified that there are multiple Diablo projects in the works, and that “…we do intend to share some Diablo-related news with you at the show.” Despite this, fans on the Diablo subreddit are calling the game “worse than nothing,” “a slap in the face,” and claim Blizzard is “spit[ting] in the faces” of the fans.
Kotaku spoke to executive producer and Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham about the fan reaction. Allen stated that they expected backlash due to their fans being heavily focused on PC and consoles, but they didn’t expect a reaction to this degree. Allen also cited previous moments of backlash they faced when bringing Diablo to console and the announcement of Hearthstone.
A major accusation levied against the game is that it’s a reskin of Crusaders of Light. Crusaders of Light is a free-to-play game with microtransactions made by NetEase, a Chinese company which is helping Blizzard make Diablo Immortal. Allen clarified that the games are separate beings and offered clarification on some of the similarities, such as the control scheme:
I want to assure you that Diablo Immortal is purpose-built from the ground up… In the East, that control method is becoming ubiquitous, and it’s becoming ubiquitous because it’s very natural, and it feels great. Less so in the West, but we’re now starting to see some games that are bringing that mechanic to the West. So it’s us taking inspiration from some of the work they’ve done already.
Diablo Immortal has no set release date, but it’s expected for some time in 2019.