There is absolutely no shortage of people on the web right now who aren’t too happy with Blizzard, and it’s all because of an upcoming mobile game called Diablo Immortal. Yes, it was announced during BlizzCon, which people paid to get into. Yes, a Diablo 4 announcement was reportedly axed. And yes, the development is being handled by NetEase, leaving every possibility that this will be a Diablo-themed reskin of the company’s existing Diablo clone, Endless of God, maybe with some new content created by Blizzard. The thing is, when you think about all of this, is it really that bad? The development is still far from finished, and the apparently lackluster demo some attendees were shown at Blizzcon is probably going to end up being an engine test in the grand scheme of things. On top of all that, the fact that a Diablo 4 announcement was axed means that the game is still coming. If you’ve read this far and are still miffed, here are some reasons why you should chill.
Let’s start with the biggest controversy here – the idea that this game may be an Endless of God reskin. If that is the case, know this; I’ve managed to obtain the game and play it, and I can say that Endless of God is one of the better mobile action RPGs out there. I’m not the only one who thinks that, either; It manages to stand out in a very crowded niche, but because of its origins and its lack of global Google Play Store presence, it doesn’t get as much exposure as it could. Now, here’s the kicker; Blizzard responded to these rumors and straight-up said that’s not the case anyway. So, now we’re left with a brand-new Diablo game being developed by NetEase with direction from Blizzard. Could Blizzard be lying through its teeth? Yeah. Is it? Probably not, as there’s little reason to believe so. This is a major game company who is expanding a beloved franchise to mobile platforms. I’m sure Blizzard’s top people know that the company’s reputation will take a serious blow if Diablo Immortal doesn’t deliver. There are already accusations of chasing the buck and pandering to the lowest common denominator floating around, and they’re bound to only get worse if the final game proves them true.
Now, let’s move on to the fact that this game is still under heavy development. Blizzard said so itself at BlizzCon. You can find accounts of the demo from attendees all over the Internet, and they all have one thing in common; everybody says the game feels unfinished, and is lacking critical features at this stage. Core Diablo stuff like inventory management, at that. What does that mean? It means that there’s tons and tons of room for improvement. Graphically speaking, it’s not hard to spot lots of similarities to Diablo 3, to the point that some have alleged asset reuse. Talking about a AAA console title, that’s not really a bad thing. I highly doubt that Blizzard will let NetEase kick a bad game out the door with the Diablo name attached to it; just look at its track record – it consistently put out hit game after hit game for over two decades now.
Time to talk about Diablo 4 and the future of the franchise, as well as just what this mobile game could mean. First off, Diablo 4 is coming, and it’s almost certainly going to get a grand announcement. Diablo 3 came out six years ago; Blizzard would be absolutely clueless to simply throw the next mainline Diablo title out there without making a big to-do about it when fans have literally been waiting so long for it. Since this is a mobile game, some kind of interconnectivity between it and Diablo 4, and even Diablo 3, is definitely possible. Imagine being able to take your character and gear with you between platforms. Get called into work an hour into a Diablo 3 binge? No biggie, you can still play Immortal in the breakroom and level up your newest character, making it that much quicker and easier to reach the beefier content that requires higher levels. As for the inevitable question of how Blizzard will monetize a free game and whether there will be a pay-to-win factor, yeah, it’s possible, but this isn’t exactly Blizzard’s first rodeo. Hearthstone is free, and Diablo 3 had a player-controlled, real-money auction house for a while. Doubt if you like, but Blizzard is certainly plenty qualified to manage microtransactions effectively. It’s not like the issue is exclusive to mobile; look at what a disaster Star Wars Battlefront II was. And it’s also definitely not like a free game can’t make money without being pay-to-win; tons of games in the Play Store prove that, like Star Ocean: Anamnesis, Final Fantasy Mobius, Pokemon GO, and the mobile versions of PUBG and Fortnite. Nintendo’s new ARPG Dragalia Lost is an extremely good and relevant example, and also a great game in general.
Finally, if Diablo Immortal does well, think about the message that will send to Blizzard. Immortal sports an original story taking place between Diablo 2 and 3. More spin-off games? Yes, please. Seriously, if you’re still sad that Starcraft: Ghost got cancelled, then you should really be rooting for this game to succeed. On top of that, the company’s titles haven’t had much of a presence on mobile until now, with the exception of Hearthstone. I mean, Gameloft’s World of Warcraft clone series, Order & Chaos, is hailed among the best MMORPGs on the platform. Come on. The potential is there for Blizzard to storm Android, and Diablo Immortal doing well could be a green light for that to happen. Could Diablo Immortal suck as much as people are afraid it will? Naturally. Any game could. Will it? Probably not. Unless the game bombs spectacularly, it means nothing but good things for the franchise and Blizzard in general.