Announced at the end of the Blizzcon 2018 keynote, Diablo Immortal is a new mobile game set in the Diablo universe. And there’s more. Diablo Immortal will be a massively multiplayer game with persistent zones, a capital city, and dungeons. That marks two franchise firsts in one game.
Yet it’s not what fans wanted. Despite indications to the contrary, many held out hope the much-loved Diablo 3 would see a proper sequel for PC and consoles or, at the least, a new expansion. That’s not what happened, and fans are livid.
Two trailers were shown during the announcement — a cinematic trailer and a gameplay trailer. Both are taking a beating on YouTube, where they have about 25 times more dislikes than likes. The numbers of dislikes is skyrocketing as the number of views go up. Other outlets of nerd rage, like Reddit, are also voicing their ire with multiple threads.
Perhaps the best indication of negative reception, however, was Blizzcon itself. Several fans shot pointed questions at the Blizzard developers during the “Diablo: What’s Next” session. One player asked if there would ever be a PC version and, when told there were no plans for it, the crowd revolted in a chorus of boos. Taunts were thrown out by random fans throughout the sessions, many of them from a very loud guy with an infinity for the Druid class from Diablo 2.
One player even asked, point blank, if Diablo Immortal was an “out-of-season April Fool’s joke.”
It’s not unusual to hear difficult questions from fans at Blizzcon, but usually, there are only one or two in each session. Even World of Warcraft fans have so far appeared amicable despite Battle for Azeroth’s problems. There was a palpable sense of disbelief and unease during the Diablo session, and the on-stage answers to questions did nothing to ease tensions. The Diablo franchise has always released on PC first, so the existing fanbase isn’t eager to play the next game on a smartphone.
There is one more sore point, and that’s the involvement of Netease, a Chinese developer that Blizzard has partnered with for years. In the past, the company has helped with the Chinese release of numerous Blizzard games, which are quite popular in China.
This time, however, it appears Netease is actively involved with the development of Diablo Immortal, and several developers from the company made an appearance on-stage during the Diablo session. This, too, has fans unhappy. Blizzard has historically kept development of games in-house, and some players worry that Diablo Immortal won’t live up to the company’s high standards.
It’s hard to say how this reception will change over time though, frankly, we would be shocked if it thawed quickly. The details of this announcement press pain points for Blizzard fans that won’t be easy for the company to deflect.
That’s a shame because there’s reason to be excited. Diablo Immortal is not only for mobile, but it’s a massively multiplayer online game. Fans of Diablo have clamored for a massively multiplayer incarnation and it’s possible this new mobile game will serve what they’ve long desired.
We’ll be going hands-on with Diablo Immortal. Stayed tuned to our complete Blizzcon 2018 coverage to learn whether the game stays true to Diablo’s roots.