Blizzard’s big announcement at Blizzcon was a mobile version of their hit franchise, Diablo. The fans want blood. People hate the fans.
Blizzcon is a convention held by Blizzard, makers of the Diablo and Overwatch franchises (among others). This two day event is intended to be a company-centric “gaming convention” to tell fans about forthcoming projects.
What the fans wanted was word on Diablo 4 — an assumed future release of the company’s juggernaut action role-playing game.
What they received was a lot of energy and screen time devoted to a mobile-only version of the franchise called Diablo Immortal.
The universe crumbled.
At this point, we have three factions at war — on social media, blogs and even in person — Blizzard, the Rabid Fans and people who are appalled at the behavior of those said Rabid Fans.
The biggest question is — who is in the wrong here?
The answer: everyone — but for different reasons. What we need is a little understanding and empathy here.
Blizzard has long been held up on a golden gaming pedestal by their fans. Their devotion to quality games and franchises has earned them an almost immortal (there is a bad joke in here somewhere) status among their fans.
Especially the PC gamers that have lined their pockets with billions from franchises such as World of Warcraft and of course, Diablo. Some of these have transcended to console gaming platforms as well.
Despite their god-like status, Blizzard has partaken in many questionable practices such as entering the “free-to-play” model (where money is made exclusively by micro-transactions) as well as the infamous (yet strangely forgiven) “auction houses”.
Despite their successes with micro-transaction-based gaming like Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm — Blizzard is mostly associated with traditional fiscal models (pay once, play forever) and gaming conveyances (PC and powerful home consoles).
What did they do?
Acknowledged by multiple interviews and articles, Blizzard knew that what the fans wanted at Blizzcon was information on Diablo 4; the much-awaited sequel for PCs and consoles.
After providing information on some remasters of classic franchises such as Warcraft and the obligatory updates on Overwatch — the company trotted out their “flagship” release for the conference: Diablo Immortal.
What this turned out to be was not a PC or console game — but rather a mobile phone (Android and iOS) version of a Diablo game — created in tandem with a Chinese company called NetEase. The fans claim it bears a strong resemblance to that company’s existing mobile game (and Diablo clone) named Endless of God.
Blizzard acknowledges they didn’t give the fans what they wanted — but are claiming to be completely astonished at the negative backlash that they have received on every possible front about the game; claiming that “they love games” and “everyone has a phone” so why not?
Despite the backlash, they continue to chant the same mantra about the game being made from the ground up — that the team working on it does not impact other projects, either.
Essentially, “what’s wrong with us releasing a Diablo game on mobile devices? It doesn’t affect other Diablo projects.”
The Rabid Fans
The fans are livid. The complaints appear to fall into a small bucket of categories.
Blizzard Ignored Them
At a conference attended largely by PC and console players of top end AAA franchises like Overwatch and Diablo — Blizzard gave them the finger by leaving out ANY and ALL information about the forthcoming “proper sequel” to Diablo 3.
Instead of even revealing a new IP or game for their “base users” (PC and consoles — or even handhelds like Nintendo Switch) — they spent all that time and energy discussing a mobile game.
… and not just a mobile game — but a mobile game based on the IP that they actually came to hear about.
Blizzard Slapped Them In The Face
Blizzcon is a big event that people come from all over the world to attend. Announcing a mobile game that should be a “news or blog post at best” was a complete waste of their time and money.
The fans also believe that this mobile game is merely a re-skinning of the NetEase game — and that Blizzard’s history of quality control is not being adhered to where other games have been scrutinized. Blizzard assures the fans that this isn’t the case — but these retorts appear to be carefully worded; to appear only partially in denial. Fans feel Blizzard is being disingenuous.
Diablo Immortal Will Be F2P
Despite the fact that Blizzard is already profiting greatly from free to play games, fans of more traditional pay-one-price models feel the Diablo experience will be ruined through monetization via micro-transactions.
Fans are helpfully pointing out that Blizzard will not firmly comment on a pricing structure “at this time” and that seems like subterfuge for an inevitable outcome. Standard pricing on mobile games have proven to be a financial failure — and the fans know that Diablo Immortal will be a casualty of the F2P model.
The Rabid Fans Haters
Much like Tolkein’s The Hobbit, the warring factions continue to build — we’re not to five armies yet — but there is a third troop on the battlefield: the Rabid Fan haters.
The Rabid Fans(tm) are acting like entitled millennial children, according to the haters.
They aren’t wrong.
They say there is no fury like a woman scorned. But the scorned woman doesn’t hold a candle to the fury of a gamer scorned. The Rabid Fans are utilizing every possible medium to express their outrage — and many of them are being repugnant and disrespectful while doing it.
Social Media Storm
If you’re on any social media platform from Twitter to Instagram or hang out at gaming blog and news sites — especially Reddit (which oddly is the home of a LOT of pissed off people, it seems) — you have bore witness to the almost cathartic meltdown some of these fans are publicly displaying.
So loose is the venom, that the message of discourse (which is totally legitimate in my opinion — I’ll offer that below) is being lost through the hate and rage ravaging the networks.
Direct Insults and Threats to Blizzard
Even more offensive to the Rabid Fan Haters are the assaults by fans upon Blizzard as a company and even threats leveraged at individuals that work at the company.
To the Rabid Fan Haters, this behavior should be reserved for when we find out the government has been covering up alien abductions or when Pfizer has been found to be guilty of withholding a cure for cancer.
Not because of some mobile game announcement.
Who is in the wrong? All of them.
Let me preface this last section of the article with a few personal notes.
I am a fan of the Diablo franchise. I think the first two games were absolutely incredible and I played through them multiple times.
I was not an overall fan of Diablo 3 for several reasons; the lack of controller support (which the console market got — but the PC did not), the auction house — honestly the entire direction the franchise took as a whole turned me away from the game. I recently picked it up on Xbox One and my interest quickly fizzled out. So much so, that I am even passing on the Nintendo Switch version.
I am also not a fan of mobile gaming overall due to the nature of the F2P model. I’m old school. I believe in the shareware model. I believe in the retail model.
Now that I’ve expressed full disclosure, let me explain why all three armies are wrong.
Blizzard Failed Their Fans — And Doesn’t Understand Why
Listen, Blizzard is a public corporation out to make money. As such, they don’t owe anyone anything. The fans putting them up on some sort of pedestal has always been a mistake. All the posturing and such about how much they care about gamers is lip service — and it is unfortunate that the Rabid Fans have lost sight of this.
Blizzard is about making money. Right now, the biggest return on investment are these free to play mobile games — and they want in on the action.
All this pandering about getting Diablo into the hands of more people benefiting the IP is just that — pandering.
The Rabid Fans say Blizzard is ignoring their core fan base. Wrong. Blizzard is ignoring the base of users that isn’t going to make them billions of dollars next year on micro-transactions. You see, single player games don’t sell cosmetics. Single player PC and console games don’t foster a need for loot boxes or crates or other things to boost skins or stickers — because …
Cosmetics require an audience. F2P audiences are huge and are willing to spend money en masse for them.
You wonder why single player games are going away? It has nothing to do with any sort of nobility. It’s about money.
Blizzard has every right to make a mobile game and fleece the public for billions. In fact, that’s what they are supposed to do. Ask the stock holders.
Blizzard has every right to NOT make a Diablo 4 — for whatever the hell reason they offer. They have to answer to the stock holders demanding Fortnite level monies.
Blizzard has every right to reskin some Chinese mobile game and pass it off as new. That’s Good Business(tm) — so stop thinking that Blizzard is somehow beyond making money.
What Blizzard has no right to do? Act surprised that they pissed everyone off.
All these articles about how big of gamers they are — how much they LOVE mobile games and can’t WAIT to play Diablo on there with all their fans?
A pack of nonsense — and the fans see right through your disingenuous nature.
Blizzard failed their fans — but that’s their right. But whether there are truly puzzled by the hatred or they really are putting on a dog and pony show to cover up their allegiance to the billion dollar mobile market? They have failed as a company — and the Rabid Fans have EVERY RIGHT to be upset.
The Rabid Fans Are Being Idiots
Oh, not because they are passionate or against what Blizzard is doing.
But because they are exhausting time and energy into something that is completely unstoppable and something they should have seen coming several years ago.
I think they are really just pissed because they’ve been conned — and it is now public.
The Rabid Fans have built up Blizzard into some sort of deity company that they made synonymous with “quality gaming”. Making them look like drinking buddies that are always looking to pick up the check for their down and out bar friends is a mistake in this day and age.
Much like Electronic Arts in the 1980s — maybe Blizzard started out innocuous. But like the aforementioned corporation (that’s right — not your local user’s group — a business looking to make money) Blizzard isn’t that company — nor have they been for some time.
Oh, I’m sure there are still a couple of the old troops that have hung in there — but their hands are tied.
By the way, Rabid Fans … your behavior is making the rest of us look bad. Creating hundreds of fake Google accounts so you can downvote Diablo Immortal trailers? Threatening Blizzard staff on social media?
I will take the Hitler Reacts videos, though. I can’t get enough of those.
Sorry your hero Blizzard has taken you for a ride. Welcome to the really real world where companies don’t give a rat’s ass about you, your assistance in getting them to the top or what your gaming medium of choice is. Like Jesse Ventura says, “… they follow the money”.
Look, those of use that use to adore Electronic Arts in the 8-Bit days knows what it feels like to see your champion fall. You have my sympathy and understanding — you really do; that’s probably the number one reason I wrote this article.
You aren’t going to change this. Oh, right — fan flack managed to get EA to reverse loot boxes on Battlefront 2.
I got news for you — that isn’t happening here. But hey, knock yourself out.
But don’t threaten to knock down out or (like Blizzard) pretend you don’t understand why your haters hate you.
You act like a troll and people will want to stuff you under a bridge with a warning sign.
The Rabid Fan Haters Have No Empathy
You don’t care about gaming. Got it.
You don’t see any reason why a mobile game pisses everyone off. Got it.
You can’t understand why someone can be so passionate about something that seems so meaningless and insignificant to you. Got that too.
These Rabid Fans are hurt. They are upset. They lost a God. They are being pandered (or outright lied) to. In some cases, they are just now learning a valuable life lesson that corporations are not out to please their fans — but to make money.
Find a way to relate and empathize with these people. I’m sure there are a bunch of whack jobs out there that deserve your hatred — but you need to understand that just because this means NOTHING to you, it means EVERYTHING to them (and your opinion of the significance of their chosen passion is moot).
Don’t add fuel to their fires. Refrain from judging them on social media. Don’t give them an audience and things will simmer down.
Don’t worry — at some point, something will piss you off too and you’ll want to rant. They won’t care about your issue either; let’s just hope you conduct yourself better than they are.
The Bottom Line
No matter what field of battle you’re fighting on with regards to this argument, you can be assured of one thing.
This too shall pass.
If the internet has taught us any life’s lesson — it is that no matter how trivial or massive any situation, story or event — The People have about a twenty-one day memory of all things and come the next major gaming snafu or presidential election?
All the battlefields will be ignored or scrubbed clean in favor of The Next Big Tragedy (real or perceived) and in less than a year, nobody will care. Diablo Immortal will make Blizzard a billion dollars. Diablo 4 will eventually get released (and the fans will buy it anyway). The Rabid Fans will find some other company to be disappointed in.
Wax on. Wax off.