For Blizzard Entertainment, dust came up over the announcement of the mobile game Diablo: Immortal in a bad time. Our review editor Mike Minotti was there at the BlizzCon fan event, where Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime went on stage for the last time to present J. Allen Brack, the new president.
Brack's warm introduction of Morhaime was intended to convey continuity and confidence in the future. Keynote talks started well enough when Brack was the long manufacturer of World of Warcraft, Blizzard's biggest game. But it ended in a PR disaster when Blizzard closed the show without mentioning an upcoming Diablo PC / console game. Instead, Diablo appeared: Immortal.
A fan summed up the reaction when he asked, "Is this an unknown Aprilfools joke?"
It's a bit of a spot on Brack's first real interaction with fans as president of the legendary fan-centric, quality-driven gaming company. And it's not like it's his fault, as he's just one of the budboards.
The hardcore fans who traveled to BlizzCon to hear about the next department of Diablo were dumbfounded. Had Blizzard sold them out and chose to build instead a madness game that could earn money with greedy little microtransactions? This reaction had so much fear in it and it was perhaps the worst setback that Blizzard had ever met from its former adoring fans. Speculations were quickly discovered to feed this meme as fans said the game was a reskin of a NetEase Diablo clone or that NetEase was making the game and not Blizzard.
. A negative fan reaction began to spread, and Diablo: Immortal trailer on YouTube had 560,000 dislikes for 21,000 likes. In turn, the share price of Activision Blizzard fell due to the fan break, which removed thousands of dollars at market value.
It did not help Kotaku reported on Monday, Blizzard mistakenly, Blizzard's fellow Allen Adham had prepared a video of Diablo 4 and then yanked at the last minute, leaving just the mobile message. Kotaku backtracked, says the video existed, but it may never have been lined up for a view on BlizzCon.
By making his neck on the Diablo 4 story, Blizzard was pleased, which was a form of acknowledgment that it opened the announcement. It was wise, as it never pays to say to someone whose feelings are damaged that they are wrong and they should not be hurt.
"First, we want to mention that we definitely belong to our community," said the company. In order to reassure the fans, he added: "We continue to have different teams working on several unannounced Diablo projects, and we look forward to announcing when the time is right."
Electronic Arts felt the same setback when announcing a new Command & Conquer game, and it turned out that it was a mobile game instead of a hardcore PC game that the old series was.
The gamer upset became more insulted when they offended the players accused game journalists to pile them and mark them "They were entitled to players." They felt that the game journalists should have been synchronized with the fans, but instead, these paid shillings paid the company's stupid features . (A game journalist agreed with the players and said that the game journalists were wrong). I took some of this heat on Twitter.
Disappointed at @deantak joins the tired "straight gamers" choir. https://t.co/JQ1maUO9cq
– Brad Glasgow (@Brad_Glasgow) 6th November 2018
We should stop here and note that it's not a crime to make a mobile game. Mobile games reach the wider audience, and they serve the purpose of bringing non-players into the fold. Mobile games are also a $ 70 billion, or about half of the total $ 139 billion gaming market. It's stupid not to make mobile games, as all major video game companies have realized. Why? Because big mobile hits can generate huge revenues since the world has four billion mobile phone users.
These games also cost a lot less to do and they can be done faster than PC or console games. It's no surprise when Diablo: Immortal can be announced and released before a PC version of Diablo 4 is announced. Also for some reason, crazy players believed Blizzard did not work on a new PC-based Diablo game and that they got a mobile game instead.
Here is the case. If Blizzard did a good mobile game, it could print money, as Supercell does with Clash Royale or Niantic, with Pokemon Go. And it can use the money to make all the PC games it wants. (I've run this theory of Take-Two Interactive CEO Strauss Zelnick and he did not agree). The big point here is to include available gaming platforms that mobile will expand the gaming market, make all the games more profitable and result in more available capital and better games for hardcore players.
The negative reaction was built on another misunderstanding: Real players do not play mobile games. In fact, mobile games are becoming more and more popular among hardcore players. Razer is targeting his Razer Phone 2 with hardcore fans.
Then we have this myth that Blizzard players do not like mobile games, especially the microtransaction-free games being played. Hi? Have you heard of Blizzard's Hearthstone, which has been downloaded more than 100 times, both on PC and mobile. By the way, the review editor Mike Minotti Diablo played: Immortal prototype, and he was pleased with it.
And Diablo Comes To The PC
Let's also acknowledge that Blizzard does Diablo 4, or anything. Allen Adham, founder of Blizzard, had left the company in 2004 and returned in 2016. He works with Diablo, and he established Blizzard's maniacal focus on quality. Do we really think he should mess up Diablo on the PC and let the fans only have a mobile game?
He is not that kind of guy who sends a very bad game and he came out saying Blizzard had not forgotten the core Diablo fans. Knowing what I know about him, I do not think he would go on stage to make the fans happy by saying that Diablo 4 comes when it's quite possible that Diablo 4 will be put through the wringer before it sees the light – because he want to make the game fun. Now, if fans do not trust a guy like this to do right at the Diablo franchise, I do not know who to trust.
Wall Street's fury?
This attack was conducted during the earnings call on Thursday when Blizzard's leaders like Brack had to ask questions about Diablo: Immortal. Yes, leaders in one of the game's successful companies must capture the violence of the fans on their carefully orchestrated fan event.
"Last week, Blizzard announced Diablo: Immortal, which will bring this tent to a mobile audience in both East and West," said Collister, Coddy Johnson, Operations Manager at Activision Blizzard, under the analyst on Thursday. "While the fan reaction slowed down to the announcement, the players' practical experience of this content confirmed what we think is that Diablo mobile will be a very well-received game when released and players around the world will love it."
On the analyst, Brack should also respond directly to an analyst who wanted to hear more about Diablo: Immortal.
"So we've seen some interesting reactions to the advertising. I think it's clear that there are many players who are eager for more Diablo PC and console content, "replied Brack. "I think it came through BlizzCon, and honestly, we feel lucky to have a community that cares so much about that franchise. The commitment and commitment of our society is, I think, one of the things that make Blizzard very special. It's something we really appreciate and we like to hear the things they formulate about what they want to hear next and what we can do better, honestly. "
He added:" We feel that Diablo Immortal will deliver a very authentic Diablo experience and we will not compromise on this mission. Launch of the game will only begin. There will be continuous support and we'll just let go of the game when we feel it meets society very high standards. Finally, Diablo Immortal comes to fulfill it and we believe that people will experience it and we think they should love it. "
And he said," If I believe the possibility of Diablo and especially on mobile, I think it's a very important opportunity. Mobile is the biggest platform in games today. And taking a game like mobile on that platform in a way that really reflects our quality standards, I think, can really open a lot – it can open the franchise and other franchises to a global audience, including people who do not have PCs, or in particular in China where Blizzard is a very strong Western brand.
After reporting revenues with a forecast that fell slightly below expectations of the holiday quarter, Activision Blizzard's share 8 fell. percent and lost a further billion dollars worth of market value.
As a result of all the rebellion, Macquarie analyst Ben Schachter wrote, "Blizzard is known for its high content, content that often takes quite some time to develop. Now, as it strives to expand its appeal to mobile and larger audiences, we believe there are cultural challenges, management changes and planning of issues that affect the franchisees. It must find a way to faster reproduce, grow audiences and platforms, while maintaining its reputation for quality and not releasing a game until it's clear. "
It's a nice analysis, but it means putting pressure on Blizzard's leadership to rush things out to make fans and investors happier. It's just the wrong thing to do.
I do not know who's the gentleman here The fans or investors. But it's all produced concern that can hurt much of one of the finest companies in video games. I hate seeing bad outcomes from this fight. We should let Blizzard be Blizzard.