This year is turning out to be a particularly bad one for Diablo clones on mobile devices, which anyone who saw the terrible reception Diablo Immortal’s announcement got at BlizzCon 2018 probably could have guessed. But Tencent, the biggest video game company in China (and perhaps the world) learned this the hard way when it released the mobile action RPG Raziel in China.
Tencent launched Raziel as an attempt to beat Diablo Immortal – made by its chief rival NetEase – in the Chinese dungeon crawling mobile game market by launching first. The game has actually been in development for over four years, with an English version soft launch dating back to 2017. Apparently, the results of that test weren’t strong enough to release the game, so Tencent quietly pulled the game before its launch in China.
But it seems as though the Diablo Immortal was reason enough to push the game onto the market, despite how thousands of fans reacted negatively to the mobile game announcement. After heavy promotion, Raziel grew to become one of the most downloaded mobile games in China in its first week, featuring three starting classes and two unlockable ones. But things quickly went downhill from there. Suffice it to say that Chinese gamers are far from happy with the action role-playing game, with many complaining about its terrible loot drops and pay-to-win monetization system.
After spending over 80 hours with the game, one player wrote, “After I reached level 60, I still couldn’t collect a basic build of equipment after spending a week fighting monsters. The game is trying very hard to make you pay. It feels like it’s urging you to quit.”
Others spoke out about how the high-level loot system is “garbage,” with items that look good but are functionally useless. Additional gripes include the slow map loading times, small selection of character classes, and the poor design of the in-game shop. The current user rating on China’s TapTap platform is a low 4.1 out of 10 with over 8,300 reviews, showing that Raziel is turning out to be a cursed item.
So, is Raziel a preview for how Diablo Immortal will be received? Especially given how NetEase’s own Diablo III clone, Endless of God, didn’t exactly win over Chinese players over either? Making matters worse is how early previews of Immortal look like reskinned gameplay from Endless of God. However, none of that necessarily means that Immortal will flame out.
Diablo Immortal requires Blizzard’s seal of approval, and the company has proven itself to be a stickler when it comes to the quality of its games, even when they’re developed by a third party. In fact, NetEase announced in March that development for Diablo Immortal was pretty much complete, so any hold-ups at this point are on Blizzard’s side.
Additionally, even though Western gamers expressed disdain for Diablo Immortal, there are many Chinese gamers who are looking forward to it. Mobile gaming is extremely popular in China and the Diablo name carries a lot of weight. So, with the right gameplay and monetization, Diablo Immortal has a chance of becoming a huge hit.
However, the Diablo Immortal doesn’t have a release date in China or anywhere else yet, so it’s impossible to know for sure how things will turn out.