In brief: Diablo II's producer Mark Kern thinks that fans' reaction to the mobile game Diablo: Immortal should have been predicted by Blizzard, but the company has become out of touch with gamers. The statement comes after heavy criticism over the weekend over the Blizzcon keynote.
At last Friday’s Blizzcon keynote, fans were extremely disappointed to find out that Blizzard’s big Diablo announcement was a game for mobile devices. The company has teased that it had some news on the Diablo front in the lead up to the convention. Fans thought they might be getting a remaster or something along those lines with maybe a hint of a Diablo IV being in the works.
“These are very exciting times—we currently have multiple teams working on different Diablo projects and we can’t wait to tell you all about them . . . when the time is right. We know what many of you are hoping for and we can only say that ‘good things come to those who wait,’ but evil things often take longer”
Instead, developers announced they were partnering with NetEase to bring the franchise to mobile devices. The Diablo community was not amused. There was a collective online hissy fit, and one Blizzcon attendee even asked the devs if this was some kind of April Fools prank. The backlash was fierce.
Ex-employee and former producer on Diablo 2 Mark Kern called it “a huge bait-n-switch feeling moment.” Kern believes Blizzard has lost touch with gamers. In a series of tweets, he explained how back in his day the company was made up of hardcore gamers and this type of ill-advised announcement would never have occurred.
“I hate to say it, but what you are seeing is Blizzard not understanding gamers anymore,” said Kern. “There is nothing wrong with having a mobile version of Diablo … But the way it was hinted at, and presented, and the failure of Blizzard management to predict the backlash caught me my surprise [sic].”
He said that had this plan been presented back when he was still with the company, it would have never gotten out of the office.
“I would have had a line of devs outside my door telling me [the Immortal reveal] was a bad move.”
The good news is that fans are likely to get over their anger, especially when they learn that Blizzard is working on D4. In the lead up to Blizzcon, the studio made it clear that multiple Diablo projects were being worked on — some they would announce, but “bigger news” was not quite ready to be revealed. The bigger news certainly does sound like a new game is in the works.
Indeed, Kotaku reports that two anonymous sources close to Blizzard indicated the fourth installment to the series was going to be revealed at Blizzcon, but the announcement was pulled at the last minute.
“The original plan for BlizzCon 2018, according to two people familiar with Blizzard’s plans, was for Blizzard to announce the mobile game Diablo Immortal and then end on a video in which company co-founder Allen Adham told the audience that a proper Diablo 4 was in development but not ready to show just yet.”
The decision to hold off hinged on the fact that the D4 project has seen a lot of changes in the last four years that it has reportedly been in the works. Furthermore, it is likely to change some more, and developers felt it was premature to announce it before things were more settled.
Blizzard had no comment to Kotaku’s report, so take it as a rumor for now. However, the company’s previous statements on the matter seem to strongly indicated that we could be getting an official announcement for Diablo 4 very soon.