Despite expecting some backlash, Blizzard has still been knocked around by the response to Diablo Immortal. So at every opportunity, the company has tried to remind fans that they’re working on other Diablo projects. Not Diablo 4 exactly, but something.
Diablo Immortal was centre stage immediately after the opening ceremony, and it was given that prominence again as the last major panel before Blizzcon’s closing ceremony. The second panel was a deep dive into Immortal‘s classes, world-building and some of the locales fans can expect to traverse.
But it was – as every Blizzcon panel is – a dialogue with the developers. And before fans could even ask a question, principal designer Wyatt Cheng took a leaf out of a politican’s book: repeat your message ad nauseam.
“We hear you, we have multiple Diablo projects being worked on by multiple teams,” Cheng said. Saying more slowly and with added emphasis, he added: “Diablo Immortal is one of those projects, we’re very excited about, but there are others.”
It’s a message Cheng and the Diablo team have been repeating en masse since Immortal‘s launch. Cheng repeated it again in the Q&A, when asked how the team planned to stay relevant in market when other hardcore, PC-focused action RPGs were on the horizon.
“[There are] multiple Diablo projects being worked on, by multiple teams,” Cheng replied. “On a serious note – we have multiple projects in the works, we love Diablo, for us we’re really the most concerned that we’re making excellent games, we’re all super passionate gamers.”
It’s another example of companies finding ways to talk around the things they can’t, or have chosen not to, talk about.
But the question that kept getting asked was why couldn’t Blizzard say something, even if that was no more than a simple acknowledgement that Diablo 4 – or at least a new PC/console Diablo – was in development. Chatter on the show floor brought up Nintendo’s reveal of Metroid Prime 4, which featured no gameplay and nothing more than a logo.
Bethesda has also been mentioned countless times, mostly for their teaser reveals of Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI which showed little more than a logo. Blizzcon attendees and press were discussing Elder Scrolls: Blades too, partially for Bethesda’s desire to bring that game to every platform possible – in contrast to Wyatt Cheng’s confirmation that there were no plans to release Immortal beyond PC – but also because of Todd Howard’s openness about adopting “lighter” monetisation models against the advice of consultants.
It’s not an entirely fair comparison, considering Blades was further ahead in development based off the show floor demos and had more details to reveal at the time. It’s also not the first time Blizzard has announced a game first and the business model second: many anticipated Overwatch would be free-to-play, and while that wasn’t the case, Blizzard left themselves enough room to consider a free-to-play model post-launch.
Regardless of how Immortal turns out – and it’s still far too early to judge what will happen there, based off the limited information in the playable demo – this Blizzcon has already kicked off some interesting discussion about how developers announce games, and with how much information.
The author travelled to Blizzcon as a guest of Blizzard.