It’s been three weeks since the launch of Diablo Immortal, the new mobile version of the game that combines a surprisingly effective portable Diablo experience with one of the worst monetization systems in the entire industry.
Usually when a game debuts to this much fan reaction and flames, there’s a little dance we all do. The game pushes everyone’s limits, players complain, the press talks about it, the developer says “we’re listening” and talks back to some of the worst things, but not everything the path. Repeat this process until some sort of common ground is reached.
Blizzard, with Diablo Immortal, did none of that.
The silence that has shrouded Diablo Immortal since its release is just… odd. Follow any of the developers or the game’s social accounts or the forums and there’s just…nothing at all about any of it. It’s as if this huge ball of anger doesn’t even exist. Outside of director Wyatt Cheng tweeting a few times a few weeks ago saying the game doesn’t “sell gear” because powerful legendary gems aren’t “gear,” there has been no no other conversations, no apologies, and no changes to the game itself toning down all of its extraordinarily aggressive monetization.
Blizzard’s position seems to be that they really don’t really care what angry, long-term fans think of Diablo Immortal. If monetization drives you crazy? The game is not for you and you can wait for Diablo 4, but they don’t change anything. This is how mobile games, especially in Asia, literally make tons of money by encouraging gaming trends and offering ways to pay hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for electricity . So they will too.
And it’s working, so far, both in the US and overseas, where Diablo Immortal is likely already approaching $30 million in revenue according to the latest estimates, if it hasn’t passed it already. , most of it coming from the United States, not Asia. Diablo Immortal’s biggest concern right now doesn’t seem to be addressing fan anger over the franchise, but getting the game out in China, where some sort of unknown issue has caused an indefinite delay, and it may be necessary to appease the government there. . Arguing or apologizing to fans doesn’t generate revenue, but launching your game full of pay-to-win loot boxes in China? which generates a lot of income. And so, here we are.
If that sounds cynical, that’s because it is. Blizzard, with its reputation already at rock bottom, doesn’t seem to even feel the need to bother trying to chat with Diablo Immortal fans, so it’s just going to squeeze all the money it can out of it, everywhere. where he can. The idea is that fans who are crazy now will always come back for Diablo 4, which I mean is probably true.
It’s a weird situation. I’m so used to almost every developer accepting feedback and criticism and having open conversations with their player base to facilitate changes that work for everyone, that seeing Blizzard completely slam the door shut and just win money without any changes to the controversial system is… so brazen it’s surprising. It works, for now, but I wonder what the longer term consequences might be.
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