Huge backlash for Diablo Immortal – The community responds


I have been covering Blizzard games for more than two decades and I don’t think I have seen such a public backlash as I have for this evening’s Diablo Immortal announcement.

Diablo players were not expecting a Diablo 4 announcement this evening because Blizzard had already told the community it wasn’t going to happen. We know there are multiple Diablo titles in the works, the Switch version which has now been released and now the mobile Diablo Immortal. There is still more to come for Diablo but perhaps Blizzard didn’t expect the backlash we saw from fans this evening because I have not seen anything like it before at a Blizzard event.

During the Diablo Immortal announcement, Wyatt Cheng was visibly shaken, he missed and fluffed his lines and he was obviously uncomfortable with having to announce Diablo Immortal. It was hard to watch.

Later during the Q&A, for the first time as far as I can remember at a BlizzCon, the crowd didn’t whoop and cheer every nugget of info from the team on stage. In fact, they were booed by the fans of the franchise. It wasn’t booing in jest either, attendees appeared to be genuinely frustrated and annoyed that this was what Blizzard was putting on the table for a Diablo announcement.

At E3 earlier this year, EA attempted to announce the reboot of their classic C&C franchise and the fans were hyped until EA revealed it was a mobile game. There was quite a backlash. A few weeks ago, EA said they had heard the fans and announced they would be remastering the earlier C&C games. Sure, it wasn’t a new game announcement but they knew it was something fans would appreciate. EA managed to get some fans back onside. They also realised the mobile announcement was terrible PR.

With EA’s reveal in mind, how could Blizzard get this so Diablo announcement so wrong? Longtime readers of Diabloii.Net will know we have been quite vocal about terrible design decisions, we’ve commented that the Blizzard community team are out of touch, well, we’ve been brutally honest about how we see things. We’ve seen Blizzard change as a company from one that really listens to their fans, to one that says they are listening but are really not paying much attention. This has been to the detriment of the Diablo franchise and Diablo 3 was where it started to go really wrong. The team was just not listening to the community. Trust me, we tried our very best to highlight problems with the game before it released. Sadly it seems they are still not listening or in tune with this community.

Since Diablo 3 we have seen Overwatch being worked on continuously, numerous Hearthstone packs/adventures, and now even a Warcraft 3 remaster. Looking back at what Blizzard has been producing in recent years, I have to say it’s quite uninspiring. Don’t get me wrong, the games sell well to the Blizzard fanbase and they are making a lot of money repeating the same formulas but that’s where the problem lies. Blizzard has always been a company that’s great at polishing existing game ideas but in the past decade or so has failed to deliver really innovative games. Blizzard is not the only publisher suffering from this problem, the industry as a whole is playing it safe and that’s part of the problem. The days of taking risks are over.

Blizzard knows a mobile Diablo will likely sell well over in Asia, and while we may not like the idea, Blizzard is following the money. This is nothing new but Blizzard fans have failed to vote with their wallets time and time again and Blizzard fans often buy anything just because it’s made by Blizzard. As long as that keeps happening, there will be little innovation and Blizzard will keep churning out the same stuff over and over.

This evening’s backlash has been quite something, the official boards are even more chaotic than usual, Reddit is wondering WTF just happened and the comments here on Diabloii.Net are no different. There’s even a petition set up to get them to cancel the game.

Today hammered home that Blizzard still isn’t listening and what was concerning is that while on stage the team seemed perplexed as to why fans were booing. That says so much about the current culture at Blizzard. How Blizzard turned this huge franchise into something that could be booed or laughed at is quite astonishing.

Today Mike Morhaime took to the stage for the last time and that seemed fitting. Blizzard is simply not the Blizzard we all grew up with and he’s probably stepping off at the right time. Getting out while he’s ahead.

Shortly I will be departing Diabloii.Net after 21 years working with this great community, and like Mike Morhaime, the timing seems about right.

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  1. Lets face it… Blizzard is completely out of touch with their fans and they simply dont give a flying fuck. Blizzard has been on the stock exchange for some time now and need to please investors. How? Microtransactions. Their shitty efforts keep producing shitty games. Only kids pay to play mostly using their parents credit cards. They have not listened to a god damn thing anyone has suggested and only ever defended their shitty features with a “its so cool” The diablo universe is a complete disaster and i hope one day i will play a great diablo game again.

    • I should add…. The guys on stage were in complete shock too… seriously guys??? HOW IN GODS NAME DID YOU EVER THINK A MOBILE GAME WOULD EVVVVVVVVVVVEERRR BE ACCEPTED BY ANYONE OVER THE AGE OF 8!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! fucking idiots over at ActofNOvision Blizzturd

  2. Probably no one here remembers me, but I used to post here constantly during the D2 heyday and leadup to D3. And, I gotta say, I’m a prime example of the kind of gamer Blizz has alienated and lost. I played god knows how many hours of D1 and D2. I went to 3 Blizzcons and bought tons of merch, collectors’ editions, you name it. D3 bombed hard for me. It was just not at all the game I was expecting or the kind of game that would keep me coming back. And every decision they’ve made since then has reinforced that. I went to Guild Wars 2 and although ArenaNet is not perfect by any means, they are way better at listening to fans and delivering a game I want to spend money on the Xpacks and gem store. I check back here every year around Blizzcon to see if there’s any sign of life but this might be the saddest news yet. RIP Diablo and Blizzard we knew. It doesnt seem like they’ll be able to figure this out any time soon.

    • I just want to say that you are not the only one, My Brother and I also went over to Guild Wars 2 after we became fed up with Diablo 3.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      • I was pretty impressed with how ArenaNet handled the Jessica Price incident. When one of the GW2 writers verbally attacked a GW2 streamer and community CC for just asking a simple question, a second employee then backed up Jesscia on twitter.

        Both ArenaNet employees were fired for that and the CEO issued a state that basically said “We make this game for you….”

        While I agree that ArenaNet is far from perfect you really do get the impression that they really do care about the community and the game. I really like how the devs also play each week with the community while they stream. They also do reply in the forums from time to time.

        Blizzard pretty much stopped doing any of this, I really feel like this recent incident at Blizzcon was really a reaction that was building up from this lack of communication/caring.

  3. “Do you guys not having mobile phones?” This sums up the incredible disconnect between Blizzard and their fans. People don’t go to Blizzcon to see mobile games, nor do they want to play a game on their phone when they’d prefer to play it on PC. You don’t announce a mobile game when they had been hyping up “multiple Diablo projects in the works”. This game is clearly a cash grab and its nothing any Blizzard fans wanted, hence the reception.

    • Yup. Second I heard them ask that I’m like, come on, really? You think they’re booing because they don’t have phones? That’s like the stupidest response ever. Then the whole “you could play it on a tablet too” is just sad.

  4. I heard from someone who is at BlizzCon that one of the Diablo leads was crying backstage after the announcement.

    Which, IMO, is a good thing – it means management will reasses what they’re doing.

  5. Very sad. It’s not even like D3 bashing, this is just all out sorrow. I seriously feel like I’ve outgrown the hobby. I see other dudes on YouTube wondering if they’re just too old for gaming now. Diablo main stage announcement and it’s for a mobile game? D3 on mobile has been a running joke for years now. It’s like Blizzard thinks everyone wants to buy whatever they decide to put out if you have a device that will play it in your house. I have a toaster, but that doesn’t mean I want to play Diablo on waffles. This site was just asking for more workers but it doesn’t look like there’s going to be a Diablo community much longer. When Immortal tanks maybe they’ll pull the servers on D2 & D3 out of frustration?

  6. I’ve been reading this website for well over a decade. I can’t recall a time where I have been more disappointed in blizzard.

    It really is sad to see how they have changed over the years.

  7. I have 0 problem w/ this. Sure the current fans will whine now (no surprise), but 5, 10 years from now, this’ll likely be looked back on as a genius move. Mobile IS the future, pretty much everywhere except the West. But even in the West, mobile games bring in $100m’s w/ much less effort than supporting PC/console games.

    It reminds me a lot of WotLK in WoW. Ripped to shreds by the old guard players for its changes. Now? Praised for its innovation, even by the old guard.

    Times change, people. Blizzard is adapting. I don’t understand why we don’t. Just b/c we “didn’t ask for it”? Please.

    • Times really do change, but not always for the better. Call me an old guard or the like, but I’m definitely not going to praise Actiblizzard for ruining this franchise – Abandoning the core of what Diablo used to be and turning it into brainless speedrun competition where everybody gets everything and instant gratification is imperative. There is no depth anymore. I expect this D3-skin wearing new title to be even more simplified than D3 is, it’s mobile after all.

      This might be an entertaining thirteen-in-a-dozen action game for a week or two, but it’s just awful to call it the future of Diablo, for that truly is a dark future, and not in the way I hoped for.

      • I get that, but a company has to start evolving at some point. Who knows, 10, 20 years from now, if Blizz is some major mobile game publisher, Diablo will be praised as the martyr that started it all…

        (not count Hearthstone, since that’s not mobile-exclusive)

  8. David Brevik gives his opinion —
    https://www.twitch.tv/videos/330907878

    stars at 1:59:46

    he talks about (in no particular order)
    Diablo Mobile
    Diablo Hellfire
    outsourcing development
    Scotch
    the game industry (developers vs marketing)
    mobile games in general
    possibility of Diablo 4
    and other stuff

    and if you want to hear what the stream normally talks about …
    2:53:46 – 2:55:40 LOL

  9. This is turning into a major PR fiasko for Blizzard. The announcement trailer on youtube got a whopping 158k downvotes. Then it seems they tried to mitigate the damage by uploading a new, un-listed version of the same trailer and directing people there instead. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5iajnrdSj1o&feature=youtu.be But that one also got 26k downvotes now (vs. 368 upvotes). Ouch.

  10. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to become the villain. That’s precisely what is happening here. Blizzard and many other gaming companies have forgotten who they are and what they exist for. Back when Morhaime was the founder and they made games, they did it because they had a vision and inspiration shit what would be fun. Now, the powers in charge at blizzard don’t make games based off of inspiration and what would be fun. They make games based off how much money they can make by creating it. They’re too busy making ‘money’ and not busy enough designing ‘fun’. It’s the end of an era. And I am heartbroken.

  11. Petitioning in order to make Blizzard cancel DiabloGo is not a very smart move, in my opinion:

    As long as grand philosopher Cheng and his gang of saboteurs are busy porting Fiasco III to mobile, they are not involved in the creative process for any other games (i.e. a possible true sequel).

    We have all seen that negative criticism or even hate towards the current Diablo team’s decisions remain utterly fruitless, so simple neglect/indifference might be a much more impactful (non-)reaction to make a point. I do get why those lost cases paying hundreds of dollars for physical/virtual tickets are upset about this kind of announcement, though.

  12. I won’t be buying it.

    -although this train wreck will be interesting to watch unfold. 🙂

  13. Thanks for all your work, Rushster! Maybe it’s really the right time to move on with diablo.

    Farewell and good luck for your future from a loyal reader.

  14. Blizzard is a corporation, and as such their only purpose is making money. For those who are on the top its never enough.

    Eastern markets are the future. West is slowly dying and their goal is to position themselves on the markets that will provide them more profit in the future.

    D3 was one big step towards that goal. They have created a game that will please more customers in Asia by stylizing it with features that resemble with Manga-colored products. Western Gothic features are barely present in D3.

    Product for mobile users is logical. This will cover the younger population that are more into small gadgets and shallow games. But there are many of them in Asia. This game should be cheap for them, as it was with the production.

    Since the population is huge – even one dollar for a download could make big profit.

    • Everything you said is wrong. Everything. Not a single word of any of that entire post is correct. ….Asian gothic?? Western market dying? Are you in some sort of Man in the High Tower parallel quantum world???

        • Well you should read some demographic analysis about what will happen with this side of the world in 20-30 years. Some countries will have half of their population. Also, the population that will live will be old in average.

          Other side of the world will not have those problems

        • Also, I did not said Asian Gothic.

          You probably play too much games and don’t read these facts.

          Old people don’t play too much games as youngsters do, so they are heading East.

          • I’m 42 with a master’s in business management and I minored in psychology.

            Show me one single ‘demographic analysis’ as it relates to the West’s gaming market “dying.” Just one.

          • “with a master’s in business management”

            then you should ask for you money back

      • “Everything you said is wrong. Everything. Not a single word of any of that entire post is correct”

        DOH !

        “Blizzard is a corporation, and as such their only purpose is making money. … Product for mobile users is logical. This will cover the younger population that are more into small gadgets and shallow games.”

        • Ask for my money back on what grounds? At what point have I been wrong? Or….did you just want to circle the wagons for your scissoring partner?

          Blizzard is more than a corporation. Their only purpose is not making money. They lose money every year running Blizzcon. Producing a product for mobile users isn’t logical, since Blizzard’s loyal fanbase never asked for a mobile game — hence the enormous and unparalleled backlash…Or are you saying I’m wrong about that, too?

          Children grow up. Quickly. There are tons of games out on mobile already. Tons of RPGs. This is a waste of resources, pure and simple, on Blizzard’s part. The backlash from this will last for years to come, and people will never forget it…

          …But you go ahead and come for me without any basis for an argument other than …you’re you.

  15. First; thank you for your tireless work on this site, Rush! I’ve been here with you, Elly, Flux since the early days.

    Yes, Mike Morhaime was one of the last standing “Blizzard Classic” guys, and him stepping down feels like the captain being last to leave the “Blizzard Classic” ship after many others of notable positions have already left.

    I feel like we have a generational switch going on at Blizzard, both in terms of people and focus. They’re trying to adapt to new markets, new people growing up with smartphones. Many of us belong to the old culture, the Blizzard North culture. It was vastly different than the one we are seeing now, so there is an ongoing culture collision.

    Maybe Wyatt Cheng also belongs to the old culture? He was behind Diablo 3 since its early days, a PC and Console game. Who knows. I think we will see depending on how all this unfolds over at Blizzard the forthcoming year or so.

    Fortunately, we have games like Path of Exile, Grim Dawn with Expansion 2 on the way already in Q1 2019, soonish Wolcen, and last but not least also whatever Bonfire Studios with ex-Blizzard staff are working on. The now and the future is bright, only maybe just not right here, for whatever inexplicable business reason that prevents them from working on PC when it works for all their other franchises.

  16. Biggest joke this weekend: mobile game can support more players as “massively multiplayer” than a pc game.

  17. Hey, sorry to see you go Rushster. You have put in a lot of work here over the years.

    Blizzard could have prevented this situation entirely. It all on their shoulders regarding the backlash over the mobile game.

    Anyone who follows the diablo franchise knows there are different camps with some overlap:

    1. Those who prefer the classic games (D1/D2)

    2. Those who preferred diablo 3

    3. Those who want diablo 4

    Again, some overlap here depending on what camp you are in. They somehow managed to piss off all three camps at once this Blizzcon. This was the worst possible outcome for them. It could have been avoided if they would release smaller bits of information on their “other projects”. They need to work harder at staying connected with their community and having discussions about future projects. This would have helped to avoid this horrible PR situation.

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