The Weekly Raid: Blizzard Just Played Itself
BlizzCon 2018 took place last week, and boy was it one for the history books. The game announcements were nice, Destiny 2 is free to keep if you claim it by Nov 18, and a remastered version of Warcraft 3 titled Warcraft 3: Reforged is coming out next year. But the real story this year was how badly Blizzard bungled the announcement of Diablo: Immortal, a mobile-only game being developed by NetEase.
When the game was first announced, the audience's disappointment was palpable, but the real fun started during the Q&A session. My personal favorite clip is the Blizzard representative's answer when asked whether Diablo: Immortals would be coming to the PC platform:
Blizzard quickly went into defensive mode, even going so far as to work with Google to remove hundreds of thousands of dislikes from the Diablo: Immortal reveal trailer. The backlash was so extreme that investors took note, sending shares in Activision-Blizzard down over 7%.
While an impulsive hatred towards mobile gaming by Blizzard's primarily PC-centric playerbase explains some of the story, I think it goes a bit deeper. Blizzard's Hearthstone is available on mobile after all, yet it continues to enjoy enormous success. The real issue, I think, stems from the fact that Blizzard couldn't even be bothered to develop them game themselves. Instead, they are taking the audience for one of their primary IPs for granted by offering them a licensed reskin of a Chinese developed knockoff. Reddit quickly uncovered evidence that Diablo: Immortal looks a lot like another NetEase developed mobile MMORPG, titled Crusader of Light. Major sites like Polygon covered the story, though there's another NetEase game that's even more similar: Endless of God.
Given Blizzard's reputation for quality, it took many fans by surprise that they would license their IP to a third party. Worse still, it wasn't just any third party. It was NetEase, a Chinese chop shop that has been making knock off mobile games for years. Blizzard teaming up with such a company almost reads like a capitulation and strikes many fans as a deliberate decision to dilute the quality and value of the Diablo franchise. What do you think of the Diablo: Immortal mess? Let us know!