Blizzard video-game misstep prompts an avalanche of fan backlash

At its BlizzCon weekend, the company rolled out a mobile version of ‘Diablo,’ disappointing attendees and spurring online disdain. It’s scrambling and, it seems, deleting critical comments.

Gaming fans were hungry for a dynamic new offering from Blizzard; instead they feel they got snowed.

The weekend-long BlizzCon gathering was supposed to celebrate new offerings from the company that has created such popular titles as “Warcraft,” “Starcraft,” “Diablo” and “Overwatch.”

However, when it announced that the latest installment of the “Diablo” franchise was simply a mobile version, it got a frosty reception. Now the company is dealing with the backlash, which has spread from the convention itself across social media.

Kotaku Australia wrote:

Yesterday, during a BlizzCon Q&A shortly after the announcement of mobile game Diablo Immortal, a fan in a red shirt approached the mic. “Just was wondering,” he said in a deadpan tone, “is this an out-of-season April Fool’s joke?” The audience cheered.

It was just the beginning of a very long weekend for Blizzard. The company was expecting fans to react passionately, one of its co-founders told Kotaku in an interview today, but it wasn’t prepared for the level of vitriol that ensued.

During yesterday’s on-stage Q&A, a developer on stage let the fan down gently. “No,” he replied to the facetiously phrased question, “it’s a fully fledged Diablo experience on mobile, which everybody will get to play, and hopefully, which will bring new heroes to Sanctuary as well as welcoming our community back into it and something we’re very excited about.”

 

The backlash to the trailer for the new game has garnered plenty of jeers online.

PC Mag wrote:

If you want some idea of how badly it was received, look no further than the like and dislike totals on the gameplay video included below. At the time of writing the video had over 10,000 likes. However, the dislike total has gone past 155,000.

According to the comments on the trailer, the dislike count had gone past 500,000, but the video was re-uploaded which reset the count. The fact it has grown so large once again demonstrates how unpopular this decision by Blizzard to target mobile exclusively is.

The backlash stems from what some perceive as a bait-and-switch. Blizzard had attempted to temper excitement over a new “Diablo” release—but may have instead misled fans.

Blizzard released a blog post before BlizzCon, which read in part:

BlizzCon 2018 is almost here and we’ve seen a lot of rumors flying around about our plans for Diablo at the show. 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. We appreciate your patience as our teams work tirelessly to create nightmarish experiences worthy of the Lord of Terror.

While we won’t be ready to announce all of our projects, we do intend to share some Diablo-related news with you at the show.

Reddit is the main avenue for video game aficionados to gripe about perceived wrongs, and that’s where many “Diablo” fans are venting their frustration.

Kotaku Australia continued:

The Diablo subreddit, especially, is an avalanche of outrage right now. “Blizzard used to cancel games like Ghost and Titan for not meeting Blizzard quality,” reads the current top thread, which has over 12,000 upvotes. “Now they are outsourcing and reskinning games. I’m not sad, just disappointed and angry.”

Fans are especially focused on a joking remark principal designer Wyatt Cheng made during yesterday’s Q&A after getting booed for saying Immortal isn’t coming to PC. “Do you guys not have phones?” he asked the audience in a faux-incredulous tone. Fans have decided this is the ultimate example of Blizzard’s tone-deafness.

Riffing on that comment, a thread with nearly 4000 upvotes reads, “Everyone is saying that Blizzard is out touch with their fans. Except touch is the only way you’ll be able to play the next Diablo game. Don’t you all have phones anyway?”

Some suggest Blizzard no longer understands its audience.

IGN reported:

Ex-Blizzard employee Mark Kern, who worked as a producer on Diablo 2, has blamed the publisher for the Diablo: Immortal backlash.

In a lengthy Twitter thread, the developer said: “I hate to say it, but what you are seeing is Blizzard not understanding gamers anymore.”

[…]Kern asserts that by teasing a Diablo announcement – even if we knew that it wasn’t Diablo 4 in advance – it created an expectation for existing PC players that they would see a PC product, leading to “a huge bait-n-switch feeling moment.”

He adds that, in his time at the company, Blizzard would have predicted this kind of response in advance: “Blizzard never used to have to ask, because it was made up of hard core gamers from top to bottom […] I would have had a line of devs outside my door telling me [the Immortal reveal] was a bad move.”

Now Blizzard is struggling to contain the backlash, and it apparently has tried to mask the negativity its new release has received.

Screen Rant wrote:

Posting on Reddit , Diablo fan borbach highlighted that Diablo Immortal‘s cinematic trailer mysteriously jumped from 311 thousand dislikes to 215 thousand dislikes, while the likes had only crawled up by 300. At the time of writing this article, the cinematic trailer has soared back up to 374 thousand dislikes, and comments seem to be back to normal. While there’s no way to prove that Blizzard had been tampering with comments and dislikes, it looks like something was amiss when it came to Diablo Immortal ‘s trailers.

On social media, some believe the fan reaction is justified:

Others deem it overblown:

What do you think of how Blizzard has handled the fan backlash, PR Daily readers?

(Image by Carlos Gutiérrez, via)

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