It may seem like it, but Diablo Immortal isn’t the first mobile Diablo game to be presented as an April Fool’s joke.
At last week’s BlizzCon, Diablo fans were shocked, disappointed, and then angry at Blizzard’s big reveal at the Diablo main state. The next big Diablo game will not be Diablo 4, which is still in development, but instead be a mobile game called Diablo Immortal.
It was a remarkably obtuse move for Blizzard, who have historically been perhaps the most renowned of all PC and console game developers. When everyone at BlizzCon is a hardcore PC or console gamer, trying to wow them with a mobile game and saying that some of their best developers are working on mobile titles is just not a message that will go over well.
And it didn’t. Hours after the announcement the Diablo subreddit erupted in posts calling for Immortal’s cancellation. Every Diablo fan felt like they had been betrayed by a company that seemed to be able to do no wrong.
Even before the convention ended, one Diablo fan asked a very pointed question at the Diablo Q&A session: "Is this an out-of-season April Fool's joke?"
While the Blizzard execs awkwardly answered that Immortal is very much a real game, it seems those same executives forgot that a mobile Diablo game was in fact used as an April Fool’s joke way back in 2014.
With Diablo III’s expansion Reaper of Souls having dropped just a week before, Blizzard decided to make an adorable web/mobile game to get in on the April Fool’s action and even poke fun at the mobile genre. The game, called Happy Reaper, was a clear reference to the then-popular mobile title Flappy Bird and was an obvious joke.
"Skillfully guide Malthael through a network of ancient Pandemonium ruins to collect human souls and obliterate all puny nephalem with your trusty Death Laser of Doom™,” Blizzard wrote at the time.
You can still play the game here four years later.
There’s a certain sad irony that a company that used to see mobile games as a joke now sees them as something to be excited about. Even the best developer in the world eventually grows out of touch with their fans, it seems.