With April Fools jokes now having an unfortunate connotation for Blizzard thanks to the efforts of "Red Shirt Guy" at last year's Blizzcon, the game developers perhaps wisely chose to not make any Diablo-themed gags this year.
April Fools Day. The one day of the year when people don’t just blindly believe everything they read on the internet.
Each year, individuals and companies alike strive to create interesting and amusing jokes to keep us on our toes. From fake announcements to fictitious new products, everyone has something silly to say on April 1.
Even we joined in with some articles about players being more important than microtransactions, a new line up for Mortal Kombat 11 and the frankly amazing sounding Dark Souls: Let’s Go!
However, this year was different from most, in that a couple of big name companies who have previously participated in the shenanigans scaled right back. One of these was Microsoft, who we knew were bowing out thanks to a leaked memo, and the second was Blizzard.
In the past Blizzard has pulled off some spectacular April Fools Day pranks, but this year they have been very quiet. Instead of elaborate jokes, spanning several franchises, they have kept things very low key. The only jokes in evidence were in Overwatch and World of Warcraft.
Overwatch fans saw the return of the Reinhardt prank, which puts Reinhardt players' messages in "all caps" and follows them with random quotes from the character. This joke has been around since 2017 so while some find it amusing, it certainly isn’t new.
Meanwhile, in World of Warcraft, a set of fictitious patch notes were released including details of Findr, a new dungeon matching app based on Tinder.
While the patch notes are amusing, they’re a far cry from Crabby The Dungeon Helper, who invaded the official forums over the course of several years, offering “helpful advice” like Microsoft Office's Clippy.
It may be that Blizzard felt it inappropriate to go all out on the jokes this year, especially after recently making 800 people redundant.
Back in 2014 Blizzard turned to Diablo for one of their major pranks. They announced the release of Happy Reaper, a Diablo mobile game which took heavy inspiration from Flappy Bird, a hugely popular mobile game at the time.
Now Diablo mobile is a reality and when it was announced this now infamous “red shirt guy” said what we’d all been thinking - "is this an out of season April Fool's Day joke?" Was Blizzard really making their 2014 prank a reality?
We’ll find out for sure later this year when more details of the upcoming mobile title Diablo: Immortal are released.