The disappointment showed by Super Smash Bros. fans, when the last new character revealed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was a potted plant, seemed like dust in the wind compared to the raging storm of hatred created by Diablo fans when it was revealed that the big announcement at Blizzcon was a Diablo mobile game.
Blizzard has been attempting damage control since Blizzcon ended on November 3rd, but has been going about it in all of the wrong ways.
What Happened At Blizzcon?
Blizzard had been hyping up a new Diablo announcement for a while now, which led many fans to believe that Diablo IV or the rumored Netflix Diablo animated series were going to be announced at Blizzcon.
Blizzard tried to curb the fan's expectations on a blog post that appeared on the Diablo III website, which basically said that Diablo IV wasn't going to be shown at Blizzcon, but that there would be Diablo related news.
On November 2nd, Blizzard announced several new projects at Blizzcon, which included a new playable character in Overwatch and a highly anticipated remaster of Warcraft III.
The final big announcement at Blizzcon was Diablo Immortal - a mobile game set in the Diablo universe.
The timing of this announcement showed a complete lack of judgment on Blizzard's part. The fans of Blizzard games (and especially the ones willing to spend hundreds of dollars to attend Blizzcon) are predominantly PC gamers.
It would have been a lot smarter to reveal Diablo Immortal at E3 a few months back, where the crowd would have been less likely to be insulted and any negative press would have to compete with all of the other news pieces coming out at the busiest time in the video game calendar.
It didn't take long for Diablo fans to start showing their contempt for Diablo Immortal, which happened as soon as the Q&A session for the game began, which included this question:
The above question may have been snarky, but the fans had good reason to be annoyed by the product, especially with the response to a respectful question about the prospect of Diablo Immortal coming to PC.
"Do you guys not have phones" is not something you say to the PC gaming crowd at an expensive convention that had been hyped up for months and had ended with the reveal of a mobile game.
What Happened After The Announcement?
The Diablo fans online were incensed, with the Blizzard forums quickly descending to angry messages from a multitude of fans who were insulted that one of their favorite franchises had devolved into a cheap cell phone game.
Blizzard uploaded trailers for Diablo Immortal which started to receive a ton of dislikes. The Cinematic Trailer currently has 425k dislikes, while the Gameplay Trailer has 125k dislikes.
The discussion over Diablo Immortal became even more heated when fans started to accuse Blizzard of farming out the franchise to NetEase, as people had noticed that Diablo Immortal looks like a reskinned version of Crusaders of Light, which was also developed by NetEase.
Blizzard has since denied that Diablo Immortal is a reskin and has claimed that it's a brand new game that was developed from the ground up.
There is also the lingering question of the financial model of Diablo Immortal, as it was never mentioned during the Blizzcon presentation. If Blizzard had announced that Diablo Immortal was a paid game without any microtransactions, then the reaction may not have been as severe, but the silence on the issue has led many to believe that Diablo Immortal is going to be filled with microtransactions and will attempt to nickel and dime the players at every opportunity.
The Response By Blizzard
In an attempt to try and pretend that the backlash against Diablo Immortal isn't happening, Blizzard has been re-uploading the video and changing the links in an effort to pretend like it's the same one. This was discovered by several people on Reddit who have reported their findings in various posts.
To combat the number of dislikes on Youtube, Blizzard has been re-uploading the same video.
Blizzard has also been attempting to cover up the backlash against the Diablo Immortal trailers by deleting negative comments on YouTube. This was another bone-headed move, as it has just prompted fans to double-down on the negative comments.
They've also been deleting negative comments.
This kind of censorship seems baffling from a company that primarily provides content to PC gamers, who are more connected than any other player base and are Internet-savvy enough to know when a company is trying to cover something up.
What makes this reaction even more puzzling is that they were expecting it. Allen Adham (co-founder of Blizzard) told Kotaku that they were anticipating a backlash, but not to the extent that happened.
It seems that Blizzard's attempt at damage control is a way of weathering the storm. This isn't the first time that the company has come under fire from the fanbase for attempting something new, so their tactic may be to just stonewall the criticism as much as possible and hope that everyone forgets why they were mad when Diablo Immortal is actually released.
Why Announce Diablo Immortal At Blizzcon?
The most frustrating aspect of the Diablo Immortal controversy is how easily it could have been avoided.
Blizzard could have mitigated a lot of the backlash by announcing Diablo Immortal at E3, but it could still have been shown at Blizzcon if it wasn't the final announcement.
If Blizzard had shown Diablo Immortal at an earlier stage in the conference and had downplayed its importance to their business model going forward, then it might have slipped under the radar as a minor new title that was coming in the future. This could have been alleviated even more if Blizzcon had ended with a Diablo IV title card, even if it's not going to be released for another five years.
Then again, Blizzard shouldn't have hyped a new Diablo announcement if they weren't going to back it up.
The nature of the Diablo Immortal reveal and Blizzard's baffling reaction has shown that the company is tone-deaf to the desires of the fanbase. It's possible that Diablo Immortal is a good game, but there are many fans out there who will never give it a chance, for fear that supporting the title may lead Blizzard towards developing more games for mobile phones, instead of for the PC.