Last week at BlizzCon 2018, a gaming convention held by the video game developer Blizzard Entertainment, Blizzard Entertainment announced its newest game: ‘Diablo Immortal’. This announcement was not met with the usual excitement, but instead received a huge backlash from the Diablo fanbase. One disappointed fan even asked the announcer whether “this is an out-of-season April Fool’s joke”. For anyone who has no idea what the problem is, I shall explain.
Diablo is an action-RPG well-known for its unforgivingness. Players tend to get slaughtered by NPCs (Non-player characters) and they love that. The last installment in the series was Diablo III which came out in 2012. It had been six years without a sign of getting a new game anytime soon, so when fans got wind of a Diablo-related announcement coming at BlizzCon 2018 they bought tickets en masse and attended the presentation. Most fans were expecting a Diablo IV or perhaps a remaster of an older game, but what Blizzard announced instead was a mobile phone game.
Even someone who is unfamiliar with video games and video consoles is at least aware of the fact that mobile phones lack the capacity to run games as complex and complete as the ones released on PC. Diablo fans have been playing the games on PC and occassionally on console, so switching the series over to smartphones basically means a massive drop in quality. The screen is smaller, the graphics aren’t as good, the plot can’t be as big, controls are limited to just the touchscreen and much more. Additionally, Blizzard showed no intention to announce another, bigger, Diablo game that is more true to the original trilogy. This switch naturally angers the fans.
One could argue that the fans got needlessly excited because there were no hints that a new game as cool and mind-blowing as Diablo IV would be coming, but just the fact that Blizzard took the time and effort to announce this new thing at BlizzCon would be enough to hype every fan-boy, and Blizzard knew that. Usually mobile phone spin-offs and such just get announced as a side to something bigger, or they get announced online through a video or via a headline on the main website. It is not surprising that fans felt like they got betrayed by Blizzard.
Is this going to be the end of the Diablo series? Probably not. It does, however, exemplify what gamers think of mobile games. All video game producers want to get into the mobile game market thinking that it’s the future but hardcore gamers seem to disagree. While it does seem that the general public enjoys playing games on their phones, it does not necessarily mean the video game industry can completely move over to a different platform. Time will tell where this shift will bring us.
In the question if mobile gaming is actually gaming, I personally think that it does not really make a difference which game console you decide to use. Mobile phones are nowadays more than capable to run games with beautiful graphics, so I would say that phone-gaming is as ‘cool’ as gaming on an official game console. I understand where the backlash is coming from, but at the same time I think that the players should try the game before they judge. However I do agree that bringing the people out to this convention might have been a little bit of a publicity stunt.
Interesting blog! I’ve always wondered to how much degree media convergence will happen. Now as video games are becoming mobile based, maybe one day, all media devices will work with one box!