Diablo Devs Try Again To Convince Fans They're Making A New Diablo Without Saying It

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.


Comments

    It's just mind blowing to me that blizzard thought this would go down as anything other than a complete cluster fuck. It's hard to not feel slapped in the face.

      As someone else said somewhere, Blizzard have been riding on the good will and trust of it's consumers for a decade now. When I read someone else pointing out their recent business practices in a row (the RMAH in D3, Loot Boxes, Overpriced HS cards) it's made me realise that Blizzard is a shell of the amazing company it used to be. This isn't even an over exageration. 10 years ago I would've bought any Blizzard game without hesitation because I knew they were a quality games company that cared about it's consumers. Now they're literally looking for the next way to get more money out of their customers (the 6 month sub with pirate mount for example).

      The fact they just assumed the audience who paid 200 + (not including travel/accommodation costs and who would all be predominantly PC gamers) would lap up a pay to win reskinned chinese mobile game shows how far they've fallen. The look of shock on his face when they booed and his facetious response actually made my jaw drop as I watched it live. When they brought the chinese devs out who spoke only chinese, I'm surprised people didn't walk out. The fact the devs had to clap loudly into their mics to try and make it look like the audience was more excited than it was..... smh

      To the people saying "oh gamers are just entitled etc, they don't owe you anything" - actually they owe their core base of gamers everything, or they wouldn't exist as a company. And when they show a mobile game off to their core base who paid hundreds (and maybe thousands) to be there, it is a real slap in the face.

        While I agree with the sentiment (all that hype for a fucking mobile game?!) they don’t owe you anything for ‘existing as a company’. They exist because we bought their products - products that were good. The fact that you paid for their games in the past doesn’t entitle you to anything else in the future. Yes, it sucks that they’re releasing something awful and you can still argue it’s a slap in the face and looks like shit, but they don’t owe you anything simply because you bought and loved their past games.

          Actually when they hold a convention which they make millions of dollars on by bringing in fans of their old games knowing full well what the people have come there for, I have to politely disagree.

          It would be like going to a metallica concert, and they started playing country music. Would you then say the people who paid for that event are entitled because the band doesn't owe them anything? Get off the high horse and actually see it from the point of view of the fans and community.

          There might have been a time and place to reveal this mobile game, but Blizzcon definitely wasn't the place.

            I think this is the most crucial part of this debacle. I'm absolutely amongst the first to call gamers entitled whiny pricks. But this is not the same scenario. People paid a LOT of money to be there. Not just for the tickets but travel, food, accomodation, value of rec leave/non-working days etc. Some people on the internet also paid a surprising amount of money for virtual tickets so they've been screwed as well. It was a very expensive experience for people attending but they did so out of love of their hobby. But mobile gaming is not their hobby, that's a different hobby. They paid all this money and time to experience their hobby but were being sold an entirely different hobby. That's ridiculous.

            If there were other major announcements then at least it would have been something but the biggest highlight of blizzcon this year was the mobile game. That is not what people paid for. This was not the appropriate place or way to announce this title. At definitely not centre stage with nothing else to show.

            I actually agree that this amount of hype for a mobile game, announcing it at Blizzcon, is a slap in the face to fans. Hence why I upvoted you. I don’t think it’s being entitled to get caught up in buying tickets to see new stuff from Blizzard and they announce a remake of a classic and a shitty low effort mobile game. I get that and I feel that’s justified.

            What I disagree with is any insinuation that Blizzard owe fans another Diablo game, or that they owe their fans any particular product simply because they purchased previous games. Saying “They owe me the game I want because I bought all their games!” is being entitled.

              Yeah but my comment is how Blizzard acted then and is acting now. Genuinely shocked that people aren't buying into the BS around this title. They've ridden on their good will from golden age blizzard for so long that they just expect people to eat up whatever they crap out now.

            It would be like going to a metallica concert, and they started playing country music./q>

            It's like paying for a metallica concert and getting a country song at the end. There were heaps of other announcements and news at Blizzcon.

            (and Metallica have totally played country before and it was kick arse)

              Yeah no. The people this presentation was shown to were at the DIABLO STAGE, were at the for DIABLO. Not the above analogy you've given.

              Ok lets say Metallica getting up on stage and performing Hanson songs then. I'm sure the crowd would be like - well not as if we owe them anything. And anyone who complains is a whiney entitled brat.

                But your $200 ticket is for the whole event. Not just the Diablo event. A lot of people seem to be conflating that people wasted $200usd just to see a mobile game announcement.. when that ticket got them the whole event. I’m excited as all get out for Warcraft 3 reforged as just an example.

                The whole backlash says more about PC elitism than it does of Blizzard in my opinion.

                  Like I've said before but I'll reiterate, maybe there was a place to announce their outsourced reskinned pay2win mobile game, but at a 200.00 event for their PC audience, and the way they responded "DON'T YOU ALL OWN PHONES?" shows the issue with Blizzard in my opinion.

                  The whole "oh lets just be cool with it's blizzard" is exactly what their shareholders were hoping when they cooked up the RMAH, Loot Boxes and now this.

                  In saying all that the War 3 remaster does look good. As i said on the War 3 post on this site, the excitement of the War 3 remaster was squashed by the D mobile game announcement that followed. I honestly thought it was a joke when i was watching it live.

                  @ruddaga
                  Outsourced yes
                  Reskinned hyperbole
                  Pay2win reaching and hyperbole
                  PC audience maybe, but I bet every single one of them owns a phone

                  What if this is actually the one of the best RPG’s ever made for mobile? Like if this was on switch or a similar would people have lost their shit?
                  People have this hang up over mobile games, maybe it’s justified in a lot of cases but this outrage is just a knee jerk entitlement bullshit all over again.
                  I’m not saying that everyone and anyone has to agree, but holy cow some people are acting like Blizzard has taken a shit in their morning coffee when all they’ve done is announce a mobile game.

                  I feel like you keep ignoring the parts that I'm referring to being the problem. The main one being they chose a stupid as **** time to announce it at the wrong place to the wrong people. Lets agree to disagree.

                  I also think just brushing it off as entitlement is a slippery slope of where AAA gaming is going. Like the loot boxes in BF2... Oh it's just gamers acting entitled raging at that. /slip slip slip.

                  It could be the best mobile game ever and it wouldn't change the fact it's still a mobile game which requires you to use 1/4 of the screen as your finger / control scheme. Not too mention the switch suffers from having lesser numbers of mobs on the screen, how much real estate for the action do you really think that you're going to get from your phone screen. This is from someone with a Note 9 btw.

          You have a point but they should've known that 99% of that community were PC gamers.

          PC Gamers.

          The fact that they launched a mobile game like that, something that 80-90% of PC gamers would have NO intention of playing really begs the question about whether they even know who their audience is anymore.

        Gamers are entitled. There's no denying that.

        But you're right that Blizzard has fallen further than most of us wanted to admit.

    I imagine part of the problem is Blizzard ethos as well, they are happy to rip something apart if it doesn't work, just look at where Overwatch came from

    if they tease D4 and it takes them 15 years to publish it people will probably be like "where the fk is D4"... granted I think that narrative is better then being destroyed by the flood of negative reaction to a mobile game of a beloved franchise but hey I'm not in marketing so heaven knows what they are thinking

    Show a teaser
    Show some artwork
    Show something.

    "We are working on something, promise" doesn't cut it. Because it's the exact same excuse we've heard the past several blizzcons.

    loved how everyone booed after they said it was only for mobile, and they tried to counter it by saying 'does everyone not have a phone?' lol that's not the point guys....

      Totally. Do I have a phone? Yes. Do I play games on it? No. Because I'm a PC and Console gamer. I would never game on my phone. And I'm sure a large percentage of the audience are exactly the same way.

        I really don’t buy that response. I’m a PC gamer, a console gamer and a phone gamer. Something that chronically does my head in when I’m doing all three at once (hello my weekend)

        That said, not excited at the announcement at all, and I feel really sorry for anyone that paid to attend whether in person or through stream. Heck, they were having an event at Hoyts where you could go watch BlizzCon at the cinema. I wonder how many people walked out at the announcement.

          Just because that doesn't describe you doesn't mean it doesn't apply.

          You would never see me gaming on a phone.

    A Reminder, Lord of the Clans, Starcraft Ghost and Titan were all Cancelled because they didnt meet blizzards level of Quality. All them also had massive amount of time devoted to development.

    Yet some How Diablo Immoral apprently meets the level of quality that those titles didnt

    Edit: Alex if get the chance, please ask them this very question

    Last edited 05/11/18 9:48 am

      The reality is pretty obvious, they just don't value quality over instant money anymore.

      To use another example, they delayed The Burning Crusade just before launch because they found issues, compare that to BfA where it launched a steaming pile of crap and Ion himself admitted "we knew about those issues but didn't want to delay the whole product for everyone."

    It's going to take Blizzard a while to regain the faith from this clusterfuck. But one line really stuck in my craw.

    "You guys all have phones right?"

    Sadly that was something said in the heat of the moment. But it's probably the biggest mistake in PR. Attacking the consumer base.

      It wasn't attacking the fans per se, but closer to pleading for some slack. It's a lesson in expectation management and messaging too, which is why Bethesda's approach is so interesting compared to what happened here. The projects are at vastly different stages, and there's an advantage in that Bethesda are making a product that's not typically suited for Eastern audiences. But there's probably some lessons that will come from that which will change how Blizzard talks about their games, and the way things are revealed, going forward.

        it's probably worth noting that Bethesda aren't beholden to a larger corporate overlord in the way Blizzard are.

          Zenimax says otherwise.

            Zenimax and BGS are one of the same. Todd Howard and Pete Hines are on the board and both are the face of the company and Todd has been there from basically the beginning. what should be said is that Zenimax is not beholden to Shareholders like Activision is because its not a public company.

        That's a really nice way to look at it.

        I totally see it as "but you all have the device we're developing it for right? You can buy it!" which shows how much they DON'T understand their core audience, who are not mobile gamers and do not want mobile games to be marketed at them.

    I think this is the reason Mike is stepping down, I don't believe he thinks it's the direction the company should go.

    Phone comment guy should be straight up fired. Poor Wyatt was up there being roasted badly enough, without being hamstrung and thrown the wolves with such an insanely tone deaf comment like that. Blizz needed to have a trailer or teaser etc for a new D3 content patch, or D4, and then throw out immortal as a "guess what, you can play today" thing, or it was always going to blow up in their faces. Room full of the biggest, most hardcore Diablo fans in the world, some of whom travelled from around the world (Guy from my work flew from Aus to be there), and they announced a fucking mobile game made by a shitty Chinese company known for having a dumpster tier reputation for bleeding players dry with microtransactions. It would have been less depressing to announce they were cancelling Diablo as a series at that point.

      it was Wyatt that said it, but it was heat of the moment reaction. you could tell that none of them wanted to be on stage after the intial reaction of complete silence and hardly any applause.

      Also something else to point out, but it appears that one of the people at the Q&A asking a question was also an actor in some of the blizzcon advertising
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=q44vf8TDJFY&app=desktop

        That isn't an actor, it's Whitney Fairchild (aka Neinball), a long time Blizzpro contributor and co-host of the Westmarch Workshop, a podcast that has been going for like 5 years.

        Blizzard has a history of including well-known community members in Blizzcon publicity stuff, a few years ago they had an entire presentation of people talking about why they love Blizzard. There's no conspiracy here, it's just a genuine Diablo fan asking a question at a Diablo panel.

    do an Elder Scrolls 6 or Metroid Prime 4. Show us a 30 second trailer that reveals the title of the games you ARE working on. We know we won't expect them for at least 2 more years but that would be enough to put everyone's mind at ease.

    This all came because they hyped up the Diablo fans and then announced a single, outsourced mobile game. This needed to be a foot note announcement before something much bigger. Not the only damn one.

    All I can say is thanks for wasting more time and money, Blizzard. You've really wasted more time this year than ever before. Minimised online collection order, and over priced access to a show that had no useful information, what a waste.

    So Alex the real story is, is Immortal any good? They flew you over there, did they give you some time on a phone to see if all the backlash is warranted?

      That story will be up shortly!

        more importantly Alex...do you have a phone?
        edit: Also actually important, are you going to do write about Serral's fucking fantasic win, hell his whole damn year. first non korean to win the big one in 20years of starcraft

        Last edited 05/11/18 1:16 pm

          Literally thought you were talking about Serrels and misspelled his name for a moment. Starcraft doesn't have a porridge division though.

            then again it really should have a porridge division

    Lol its hilarious when you dont give a F*** about diablo and seeing everyone so salty.

    I do wish theyd make Overwatch free to play though... I tried convincing my friends to buy it to play with them but they won't budge, I know if it was free they'd give it a try tho

      Lol why would they make it free? Heck it was in the top 10 of PS4 selling games this month. They're still raking it in from sales. You need to remember this is the company that just announced a mobile game to try and corner some of that pay2win mobile gaming market. Heck they still charge you for The Lost Vikings on Battlenet and that came out in 92.

    Heh funny stuff - the Path of Exile subreddit jumped 300-400% more subscribers on the back of this news, and the post in the Diablo reddit is full of pissed off people and lots of discussion about how good POE is...

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