When it comes to Blizzard, people tend to be familiar with the company for a few different reasons - StarCraft, Diablo, and World of Warcraft, all of which are massively popular franchises in the company's small but quality library of titles. In more recent times Blizzard has added to its trifecta of franchises with titles like Overwatch, as well as Hearthstone which is rooted in the World of Warcraft lore, but still a game all its own, and Heroes of the Storm which is built on all of Blizzard's IPs together.
Starting with Hearthstone which has been a huge success, Blizzard began its journey into the waters of mobile gaming, though it would take years before it would put put another fresh mobile game. Fast forward to 2018's BlizzCon and the company ended its official keynote with a reveal that it would be releasing Diablo Immortal, not only its next game for smartphones but also the (sort of) next step for the Diablo series.
The game was met with a large amount of negative criticism and caused a fair amount of backlash all because Blizzard's Diablo fanbase felt slighted that the company was shying away from PC, where the company garnered most of its success as it built its popularity off the money it made from its loyal PC customers.
To the majority of onlookers it's easy to see how the fans of one of Blizzard's most popular games would be sorely disappointed by the news of a mobile title instead of a reveal of Diablo 4. Diablo fans are also some of the most passionate sets of players.
That paired with the fact that many people who play games don't see mobile as a platform for gaming other than for casual time wasting didn't really help Blizzard's situation, and perhaps on some level Blizzard should have better foresight and delivered a different announcement experience.
With that said, the world of games is changing and the reality is that mobile games are getting better, not just in quality of content but also in graphics, and if anyone's capable of putting out a mobile game that has the ability to be a fantastic experience, it's Blizzard, and though this is certainly the unpopular opinion, Diablo Immortal is going to be an excellent game.
Though it won't be an entirely Blizzard-developed title as Netease is co-developing the game with Blizzard, the game seems to have received some praise from fans who had the chance to try it at BlizzCon in its early stage demo.
No, Diablo Immortal isn't the followup to Diablo 3 that most people were hoping for, but Blizzard has a long history of taking forever to release new games, even ones in its already established franchises, save for World of Warcraft expansions which are typically released every couple of years.
With that said, it's only been around five years since the last Diablo was released, so as exciting as it would have been to have another Diablo for PC revealed last year, it was probably a highly unlikely scenario.
Moving back to Diablo Immortal, Blizzard had the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of Diablo in a new way, branching out on a platform which has the potential to bring Diablo's dark, Gothic themes and Blizzard's penchant for great storytelling to more people, and it decided to take it.
There's no telling how long it will take for Blizzard to release this game onto mobile devices, so it could be this year or it could be in 2020. But with Netease, being Blizzard's partner in launching Diablo Immortal, having stated that the game is basically ready to ship it's quite possible that players will the game land at some point in 2019.
Blizzard typically save its game announcements for BlizzCon, so there's a chance more information will come up later this Fall when the convention takes place, but E3 is just around the corner and there's a small possibility that Diablo Immortal could make an appearance in some fashion there too.
Regardless of when it launches there's a very high chance that the game will launch with a rousing success. Did Blizzard alienate and turn away from of its fans for the last time with the announcement for Diablo Immortal? Probably, but there's no disputing that there are gamers out there who can't wait to get their hands on this game and will be excited to play it.
There are tons of games on mobile which follow the same type of gameplay as Diablo Immortal, that is, a hack and slash action RPG that takes on a dark and demonic or fantasy theme and lets you choose from a selection of different character classes, and many of them are extremely popular. A lot of them do lack though what Blizzard would be able to add, which is an interesting story and good writing that keep the player engaged, as well as that extra Blizzard polish.
With Diablo having a proper game on mobile devices, fans can take the experience of beating back the armies of hell with them wherever they go, and that sounds like an entirely fun experience that isn't to be missed. No doubt some of the bigger worries are that the game will be filled with micro transactions that will hamper players, and there's no way to know for sure that it won't have too many.
Blizzard loves games, though, just like many of its customers, and it's unlikely that it would let anything happen that would ruin a game it has attached its name to and had a hand in building. After all Blizzard is a business and it does need to make money if it's to continue making fun games, and it would have a much harder time doing that with ones of its main franchises if Diablo Immortal tanks, as it might leave Diablo fans skeptic of future games in the series.
The fact that Diablo Immortal has an all-new story to follow also adds to why it will be a great game. It ties events together from the end of Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction and the beginning of Diablo 3, and quite honestly that's a really cool concept. It even has the potential to drive interest in going back to Diablo 2 and Diablo 3 to play each game in sequence to get the full picture of the narrative.
Obviously a lot of people believe Diablo Immortal will be a horrible game in Blizzard's history that will bomb and that the company will simply want to sweep under the rug, and nothing is impossible, it could do very badly. Blizzard really hasn't ever put out a terrible game though, and even titles it did release that weren't as popular as other were overhauled in any ways that were needed to make the games more fun.
See Diablo 3 with its initial release followed by the big changes that were made to it that made it the game it is today, which included doing away with the failed real money auction house and terrible loot drops. Though some players will still stand by their opinions that Diablo 3 wasn't fun, there are just as many that have poured hundreds of hours into its gameplay because it was just that; fun.
Diablo Immortal will be an excellent game. Not to everyone, but to some, and probably many, including both those who have played every other Diablo game and those who haven't.