Sunday, November 04, 2018

Blizzcon: Diablo Mobile Game

The biggest story from Blizzcon was the reveal of a Diablo mobile game, and the subsequent backlash from the crowd.

Personally, I think the backlash is a little excessive. Like many, I was disappointed that Diablo IV wasn't revealed. But if Blizzard wants to make a mobile game, to explore that space, then a streamlined Diablo III is probably the best fit. I don't play games on my phone, but--assuming the payment scheme is sensible, which is a big assumption--I might try this one out.

Though I suppose the backlash is just par for the course in the current age. Everything is pushed to the extremes. Something is either a 10/10 or a 1/10; the best or the worst; love or hate. There's no room for indifference, mild curiosity, or a wait-and-see approach.

I think that Blizzard made three mistakes here. First, they should not have announced the announcement. They should have just not said anything about Diablo like they normally do. Instead they explicitly said that there would be reveals at Blizzcon, and that got the hype train out of control.

Second, Blizzard should have been explicit about the payment model. I believe the main reason mobile games are disliked is that the micro-transactions are widely seen as annoying at best and predatory at worst. I would love to see Blizzard use their clout and establish a sensible price for a mobile game. The fact that they are not saying anything about payment models gives rise to suspicions that they're going to go down the predatory micro-transaction route.

Finally, Blizzard sends mixed messages about fan response. For example, in the WoW presentation, they talked about how the "Remove shoulders for Saurfang" had a big impact on the team and led to trying to make choices that matter (SWTOR players winced here). But saying things like this just encourages fans to overreact and start "movements" for every little thing. Blizzard would do far better to name drop people who make polite, reasoned arguments on the forums.

Basically, if the squeaky wheel gets the grease, don't be surprised when all the wheels suddenly start screaming. You get more of the behavior you reward or subsidize.


  1. Being a truck lot whore is more respectable occupation than mobile game developer. The devs are lucky that the fans weren't throwing trash at them.

    When I heard it, I assumed that Blizzard is at the edge of bankruptcy and that's why they did it.

    While I stopped playing Blizzard games with the Overwatch issue, I did not expect them to sink so low to have a mobile game.

    1. > I did not expect them to sink so low to have a mobile game.

      Hearthstone has been a thing for a while now

    2. I think that is an irrational view. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with a mobile platform. If someone makes a decent mobile game and charges a flat price for it, that's perfectly legitimate and should be encouraged.

      Imo, you're saying that Blizzard shouldn't make a mobile game because it's a "low status" thing. That's a very Moron & Slacker viewpoint.

    3. Gevlon, if you have not seen a good mobile game personally, it does not mean that they do not exist.

      You may want to check for a few examples.

  2. The fact that they are not saying anything about payment models gives rise to suspicions that they're going to go down the predatory micro-transaction route.

    Why shouldn't they? Activision Blizzard made a mountain of cash on in-game transactions back in 2016, to the tune of $3.6 billion of the overall revenue from Activision Blizzard came from in-game content, such as lootboxes and WoW pets.

    But also, it should be pointed out that bots and the hype train create and thrive on extremes. I'm not saying explicitly that bots jumped on the Blizzard announcements to drive this current hysteria, but it certainly seems that amplifying mob rule is part of the bots' design intent. Who benefits from this hysteria? Certainly not development houses, who become more disinclined to interact with the mob, and definitely not fans, who are kept in a constant state of uproar over whatever is the outrage of the moment. About the only people who benefit from this are the people who think they can control chaos.

    1. Uhh, what bots are you talking about? I think I missed something.

  3. I think it's pretty disingenuous to say that reasonable arguments were not presented to Blizzard at multiple points along the road. The BfA beta forums had pages and pages of feedback that was actively ignored - and then deleted.

    We armchair developers can see how quickly the social tides can change, but we're also more than cognizant that it can be addressed with reasonable dialogue. No one likes to be ignored, and Blizzard has been on a heck of a track record of ignoring feedback.

    This sound familiar?
    "To maybe give a little more hope, we had several meetings and discussions yesterday about ways to improve our internal processes so that we can converse more freely and immediately on in-development changes. Some of those improvements have already been made, and I'm personally hoping the difference will be noticeable over the next few weeks."

    1. I think you misunderstood my point. I'm not saying that reasonable arguments were not presented. I'm sure there were many reasonable arguments posted.

      I'm saying that, in later interviews, Blizzard explicitly gives status to the "protests". Doing this is counter-productive, as it means we just get more protests. Blizzard should instead try and give status to the reasoned arguments.

  4. The issue with DI isn't primarily that it's a mobile game, although that is part of the problem. The issue is twofold:

    1. This was The Big Annoucement at Blizzcon. Forget that it was for Diablo, where the fans feel forgotten and uncared for, this is a bad spot to announce any project like this, which leads to:

    2. This isn't being developed by Blizzard. This is outsourced Chinese garbage. The gameplay videos clearly show this as a reskin of other NetEase P2W garbage. Further, NetEase is a very widely reviled company when it comes to monetization. There's numerous instances of Chinese players who actually like mobile games that are appaled at Blizzard partnering with NetEase on this.