It's Okay to Feel Disappointed Over Diablo Immortal

STARTING SCREEN | To be disappointed is human, but to keep that disappointment in perspective is divine.

Article by Nadia Oxford, .

The weekend is over, and it wasn't a restful one for Diablo enthusiasts. Fans of the isometric demon-hunting series attended BlizzCon 2018 hoping (and kind of expecting) to hear long-awaited news about Diablo 4—or at least an announcement for a remastered version of Diablo 2.

Blizzard packed the Anaheim Convention Center, rolled the drums, and finally raised the curtain on…a Diablo mobile game. Diablo Immortal, as it's called, is set between Diablo 2 and 3. It's being developed and published in part by NetEase, a China-based internet services company that publishes Blizzard games (Hearthstone being a prime example) in its home country.

The announcement went over like a brick thrown on Jupiter. If Blizzard had locked the auditorium and forced BlizzCon's attendees to listen to the Deckard Cain Rap on repeat for three hours, they probably would've emerged in a better mood than they did after the Diablo Immortal announcement. One fan even famously (or infamously, depending on your viewpoint) asked if Blizzard's announcement was an "out-of-season April Fool's joke."

The Diablo Immortal controversy flared for about an hour, then died out quickly. Just kidding. Social media quickly overflowed with hot takes and angry opinions, and at the time of this writing, there's still plenty of outrage to go around. Some of the backlash is nutty, and even if you use Poe's Law to discount the more unbelievable responses, gamers have justifiably earned themselves a reputation for losing perspective and abusing developers in the name of "criticism."

Those instances of abuse might be the reason why another popular response to the Diablo Immortal debacle is, "Don't complain. Diablo Immortal isn't for you. Stop being whiny and entitled." People's determination to protect Immortal's staff is admirable and understandable: As we unfortunately know by now, developers who work in the trenches for billion-dollar corporations already deal with enough hardships, and don't deserve additional abuse over business decisions they have no say over.

That said, don't roll your eyes at fans who are expressing a reasonable level of disappointment over Diablo Immortal. People aren't entitled for simply calling out Blizzard (not individual employees working on the game) on what's honestly a bad PR move. Much as I loathe the term "hardcore gamer," nobody who shelled out to attend BlizzCon did so to see a mobile game get top billing. I'm not paid big bucks to organize events, and even I know Blizzard is funny in the head for even thinking a fanbase starved for Diablo 4 wants anything to do with an announcement for Telephone Diablo.

One BlizzCon attendee even tried to put a hopeful spin on the mobile announcement by asking (rather shakily) if Diablo Immortal might be playable on PC. When lead designer Wyatt Cheng confirmed the game is mobile-exclusive, the crowd booed and Cheng fired back, "Do you guys not have phones?" which of course immediately diffused the fans' irritation and made everything much calmer.

There are twenty billion terrible things going on in the world. Even though Diablo hasn't seen a proper new installment since 2012's Diablo III, disappointment over a video game of any kind must be kept in perspective. But if I pay to have a pepperoni pizza delivered to my place and I receive a garden salad instead, I'm going to be pissed. If I call the pizza place and ask where my pizza is, and they tell me "What, don't you eat veggies?" before hanging up, I'm going to be even more pissed regardless of whatever tragedies are unfolding outside my kitchen. If you happen to be in my company for my pizza tragedy and you tell me "Stop being an entitled baby," my irritation will merely escalate, and I'll probably snap at you. But if you pat my shoulder and tell me "That's rough, those guys are being dicks. I know you were looking forward to that pizza," I'll calm down and get over the disaster after a small sulk.

Social media is a powder keg, and sometimes—not always, but sometimes—de-escalation is the name of the game. Regardless of whether you think someone's being a bit of a whiny toddler over a mobile game, it's not always a bad idea to put away your flint and steel while they vent.

As someone who watched Capcom release terrible Mega Man games for mobile after cancelling Mega Man Legends 3 (to say nothing of putting Breath of Fire VI on mobile), I'm not going to begrudge Diablo fans their disappointment over Immortal. The reveal was bad, the "Don't you have phones" line was bad, and Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham tells Kotaku Blizzard is honestly surprised at the backlash, which is also bad. I'm surprised Blizzard would be (or would pretend to be) so clueless. I enjoy mobile games and I accept free-to-play Gatcha mechanics for what they are, but I also understand why those mechanics are heavily mistrusted, especially in loot-based games. I used to play quite a bit of Dungeon Hunter, a Gameloft series that's a mobile Diablo in its own right. The games are fun and well-built, but there was always that background question of "How much loot am I being denied in hopes that I'll pay up?" The latest game in the series, Dungeon Hunter 5, has in-app purchases for Gems (the game's hard / purchasable currency) and item / Gem packages that "Let you get your best start!" Some of these purchases have a price tag of $99.99 USD. I'm not surprised Diablo fans are cranky.

Dungeon Hunter gives us a peek at what Diablo might be like on mobile, for better or worse.

It bears mentioning Blizzard hasn't confirmed microtransactions are part of Diablo Immortal, but NetEase specializes in free-to-play games. Go ahead and hold your breath while waiting for Blizzard to announce Diablo Immortal has an up-front fee and no microtransactions but be warned: You will pass out, bang your head on the coffee table, and probably die.

Worse, publishers keeping trying to pitch mobile games like Diablo Immortal as "fully fledged!" entries in PC- and- console-based series. Nobody falls for it, and the sooner publishers stop saying it, the happier we'll be. There are myriad reasons why some people don't like playing games on their phones, and not all those reasons have to do with the trappings of free-to-play games. Saying "Do you not have phones?" isolates fans who are still toting around iPhone 6's with cracked screens. It isolates fans who dislike touch-based controls. It isolates fans who use their phones all day for work, and don't want to sacrifice the battery life necessary to run an online action-RPG. Personally, I can't afford to buy what's new and hot in the world of mobile phones: I take whatever upgrade my provider hands to me for $0. Yes, everyone has phones, but for many people, gaming on phones doesn't reach beyond Pokémon Go and Candy Crush Saga—low-resource games tailored for touchscreens.

What's funny (though not ha-ha funny) is Blizzard could've followed Bethesda's example on how to reveal a mobile entry for a series that hasn't seen a new installment in a long time. When Bethesda announced the free-to-play Elder Scrolls: Blades for phones, it "tempered" the news with a visual promise Elder Scrolls VI is coming. Yes, all we got is a sweeping shot of some mountains and the words "ELDER SCROLLS VI," but it's a commitment. Blizzard can say "We have multiple Diablo projects in the works" until the cows come home, but as far as fans are concerned, a series is "DEEEAD" until the publisher presents offers evidence that it's working on the next installment. Seeing is believing. Look at how much goodwill Nintendo restored by simply giving us the words "METROID 4" on a screen. Is it silly? Sure. But it's how fans are fueled in this hype-based market.

It's all about reassurance in an uncertain world.

When I was in grade school a lot of my teachers were ex-hippies, so we endured multiple viewings of the feel-good entertainment project Free to Be You and Me. Though cheesy, Free to Be You and Me has numerous lessons that are still worth listening to. One of the most important lessons, delivered on acoustic guitar by ex-football player Rosey Grier, states that it's OK to feel sad and disappointed over things. It really is! It's even OK to feel disappointed when a publisher whose work you love lets you down! People express elation and disappointment about albums, movies, and TV series; why shouldn't they be allowed to say "Shucks, that's rotten" about a game?

If you're amongst the Diablo-disappointed, however, there is zero excuse for lobbing any kind of abuse at Blizzard employees, particularly anyone who's working on Diablo Immortal. Please gripe responsibly.

Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Field of Hopes and Dreams (Deltarune)

Big Blizzard Drama isn't the only thing that happened this week. Toby Fox, creator of the hit indie RPG Undertale, released a follow-up called Deltarune. Or is it a follow-up? That's for Toby Fox to know, and for us to find out…someday.

We can be assured of this much: Toby Fox still knows how to compose a soundtrack. Though Deltarune only has a chapter available, that chapter is stuffed with some amazing tunes worthy of the Undertale mantle. Field of Hopes and Dreams is a bopping world-travelling tune that takes its name from Undertale's best track—and, thankfully, lives up to it. Listen closely to other Undertale homages, including Snowdin Town. Ain't nothing chilly about Field of Hopes and Dreams, though. It's guaranteed to keep you moving.

News and Notes

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Comments 23

  • Avatar for nimzy #1 nimzy 7 days ago
    That is a remarkably even-handed take.

    Personally I think the announcement of Diablo Immortal (coming hot on the heels of Fortnite) has brought us to a watershed moment for mobile gaming. The industry treats mobile games as serious business (and I hope they would, mobile games are wildly profitable). But their prospective audience sees mobile games as little better than time wasters. There's no "complete experience" to be had, and no traditional gameplay loops you'd recognize from console or PC titles. And obviously touch controls are still holding it back. But now we're starting to get games we're used to seeing on other platforms -- in other words the heavy-hitters are thinking about putting big titles out there for phones.

    I submit the new generation of phones released this month as evidence. My Razer Phone 2 is almost as powerful as my actual custom-built gaming PC. The hardware is nearly at parity with consoles. Several companies are currently competing to see who can build the best portable gaming controller for your smartphone. We're real close to seeing smartphone gaming in a whole new light.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #2 Number1Laing 7 days ago
    @nimzy I appreciate your well thought out response but I think you're missing a big factor here. We are seeing the start of a massive generational split in the gaming audience, where younger people who grew up with cell phone games their entire life are going to be totally, 100%, absolutely fine playing these games on mobile while those of us who are older are going to continue to recoil in horror. It reminds me of the endless arguments about pad and mouse/keyboard in the early 2000s, but much bigger.

    Anyone who thinks Immortal will in the long run be bringing more people to "traditional" Diablo 4 or 5 is mistaken. I don't think Blizzard will be able to convince people who have been playing Diablo on PC or console for 20 years to get used to a touch interface and MT model. I just don't see it happening. Despite a decade of trying I still can't find myself getting into cell phone games, and I doubt I'm alone.

    I think that best case scenario you have different games with different mechanics and different economic models serving different audiences. I don't think more capable phones or more polished games will get "traditional" gamers into that fold, and I think people comfortable with stuff like Diablo or Fortnite on their phone simply have no reason to pick up a console or PC game. What that means in the long-run for either market, I have no idea, but I'd probably put my bet on the mobile side if I'm being honest.Edited 1 weeks ago by Number1Laing
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #3 Funny_Colour_Blue 7 days ago
    Great article guys, I can understand the anger. Diablo has been marketed solely as a PC game, since 1996 - There have been a few ports over the series, like Diablo 1 on Playstation and Diablo 3 on PS3,PS4,Xbox360 and Xbox One and now switch. But your main demographic, are devoted PC gamers.

    It seems like a giant misstep to suddenly bring the series to mobile platforms, when most of said audience may not even have the right phone to play it. It just doesn't seem like there was a lot of thought put into this announcement.

    I can understand the anger, but I don't condone abuse or harassment though, that's just awful guys. :(Edited 1 weeks ago by Funny_Colour_Blue
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  • Avatar for link6616 #4 link6616 7 days ago
    @Number1Laing Agreed.

    These audiences are different. But, if you ever take a look at the android gaming subreddit, there is a constant continuous request "is there a diablo like game for mobile (That isn't awful)."

    Lots of people know and want a diablo experience, but can't currently fit it into their lives, and presumably don't want to get a new piece of hardware into their lives.

    And of course, getting the young folk is also important. I work at elementary schools, and a lot of children are shocked that I play games that cost money.
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  • Avatar for docexe #5 docexe 7 days ago
    The way I see it, it's OK to vent online if you are disappointed or exasperated by these kind of announcements, to criticize the decisions made by a videogame company, or heck, even to call a particular game a piece of trash.

    But once you cross the line to actively harass the developers or other people involved with the game, you are objectively acting as a terrible person and should stop, take a step back and reevaluate things.
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  • Avatar for docexe #6 docexe 7 days ago
    @link6616@Number1Laing An "audience divide" is definitely at play here, and really, the primary cause of the problem.

    I don't doubt there is a sizable audience for games like Diablo on mobile, but plainly speaking, that's not the kind of audience that attends events like Blizzcon, and said audience tends to have a very adversarial view on mobile games (regardless of whether such point of view is warranted or not).

    It was simply a major mistake on Blizzard's part to not take that divide into account. Even worse if there was indeed a trailer for Diablo IV but for whatever reason they decided to pull it at the last second.
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  • Avatar for riderkicker #7 riderkicker 7 days ago
    Reaction to a mobile version of Diablo is why you don't deserve Diablo 4, is what I got from the Schreier news. I'm finding more enjoyment of netizens making demons out themselves than I would with the game.Edited 1 weeks ago by riderkicker
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #8 SatelliteOfLove 7 days ago
    The opportunities to be disappointed and dismissive without being caught up in stupid ugly arguing is so very valuable and rare nowadays.
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  • Avatar for Drachmalius #9 Drachmalius 7 days ago
    Well said, I never play mobile games for two of the reasons mentioned here. I hate touch screen controls and I don't want to drain my phone battery playing a game when I have portable devices like the switch for that purpose. I can't believe Blizzard thought this would go over well, they saw Valve boo'd for announcing something the audience didn't want right? At least that card game (forgot its name) is on PC, tons of people just don't want to play a game on their phone.

    Personally, I'm not mad but won't be playing it and the frustration is totally understandable. People just shouldn't be sending death threats obviously but griping on twitter is warranted here to express disappointment.
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  • Avatar for link6616 #10 link6616 7 days ago
    @docexe Yeah, that's incredibly fair. I do agree that blizzcon maybe wasn't the right place to announce it.

    But I think that's why they picked it. They wanted to give immortal the high billing, the honor of a big stage announcement to show they were serious about treating it like a "real" game of theirs. And hoping their fans would see that elevated mobile phone game.

    Mistake yes, but if they annonced this without the honor of the stage it just makes the game look like more of a little side knock off. (which given it's being liscened out to another company to make.... it kind of is... But that's another issue)
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  • Avatar for docexe #11 docexe 7 days ago
    @link6616 Mmmm... I can see what you mean, but then, like the article states, they really should have accompanied the announcement of this game with a more traditional Diablo game for PC/consoles.

    Some people would still have reacted negatively to Immortal, but the whole thing wouldn't have escalated to the degree it got.Edited 2 times. Last edited 1 weeks ago by docexe
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #12 WiIIyTheAntelope 7 days ago
    What holds mobile gaming back isn't lack of power on phones, or even lack of physical controls. A skeleton clicker like Diablo could fairly easily translate to a touch screen with little loss in playability. It's 100% about the monetization schemes that mobile games use.

    As long as mobile games rely on constantly badgering you to give them just another $1.99 every few minutes it's never going to be taken seriously. And let's face it, nothing with an upfront cost sells on mobile. Publishers don't even bother releasing the $5-$10 ad-free, microtransaction free, etc. versions anymore. If you want to play the game, you're gonna be dealing with constant ad spam or seeing the "you've run out of energy, give us 99 cents to play for another 10 minutes" screens.

    That's why it's seen as a second class citizen, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #13 Funny_Colour_Blue 7 days ago

    I think this comment is really interesting, cause I always thought mobile games were the spiritual evolution of arcade and web/internet games of the early 2000 = except that, instead of paying 0.25¢ cents or $1.00 upfront, they make the restrictions for free content so incredibly high, that it's equivalent to the amount of time of holding down a day time job. (It's not fun it's not cool, but for those who are itching to play something, it's there)

    I just think it's weird that Blizzard would pull back on announcing Diablo 4. Cause I remember Dungeon Defenders, it was this really cool tower defense game for a multitude of platforms; but the entire time I was playing it, I was thinking of Diablo. What if the next installment of Diablo was on a portable systems or mobile phones? What if I could play Diablo at home on my PC and continue on my lunch break through a cloud save my mobile phone? - This is not a new concept, it's 2018. it's been done before. Keeping these two titles separate - one mobile version and Diablo 4, just feels like a huge missed opportunity.
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  • Avatar for NotCarolKaye #14 NotCarolKaye 7 days ago
    Nadia, I found this article to be toxic and entitled. Please check your privilege and stop transgressing against my emotional sensibilities.

    Remember, I have the right to never be offended and to take offense at anything. As such, your writing is wildly inappropriate.
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  • Avatar for 0xDEADBEEF #15 0xDEADBEEF 7 days ago
    Has anyone actually been harassing or sending death threats to any Blizzard developers over Immortal?
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  • Avatar for WiIIyTheAntelope #16 WiIIyTheAntelope 7 days ago
    @Funny_Colour_Blue I personally never was a believer in the todays mobile is the modern equivalent of yesterdays arcade. Other than the small amounts of money they deal in, they're a world apart. Arcade games were always about 2 or 3 notches above anything else. They were the absolute top of the line, either with much more powerful hardware, crazy cabinets ala the Afterburner machines, or unusual control schemes. Things that you could never quite replicate at home. Whereas phone games are the least powerful of the available hardware with the worst possible controls for 90% of the popular genres.

    I see mobile as being more of the evolution of the Wii audience. Players are attracted because there's very little barrier to entry (Wii being the cheapest console of it's time, mobile requiring only hardware that you already have anyways, etc.) The poorest hardware and controls that limit and/or downright hurt the games on the machine. And the players seem to have the same crazy aversion to actually paying an upfront cost for a game (the amount of amazing games on the Wii that nobody ever bought is staggering.)

    Apparently now Blizzard is saying they never had any intention to announce Diablo 4 at Blizzcon, the reports are wrong. Which would make this even more curious as to why they would truly believe that a mobile phone game that they aren't even the ones making would satisfy a room full of people that spent $200 to be there in hopes of hearing the words Diablo 4. They're honestly lucky they didn't get booed off stage.Edited 6 days ago by WiIIyTheAntelope
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  • Avatar for ericspratling56 #17 ericspratling56 7 days ago
    Thanks to Kat for finally pointing out that the sneering "well, it isn't FOR you!!" counter-response sounds pretty darn dumb considering Blizzard chose to announce Immortal at freaking BlizzCon. And with a lot of forced enthusiasm on their own part, too-- they quite clearly expected, or at least wanted, their hardcore audience to think it was "for" them.

    And even if that response was accurate, it would still be a non-sequitur: you can still criticize something you're not the target audience for. Logan Paul isn't "for" me, but I'm still pissed off that he exists.

    But people don't stop to think about these things when they want to indulge in one of the world's oldest past times: Sneer At The Nerds.
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  • Avatar for Number1Laing #18 Number1Laing 7 days ago
    @WiIIyTheAntelope Yea, mobile gaming is unfortunately the complete opposite of arcade gaming. Arcade gaming was about the best technology, optimal controller interfaces, the best game designers, the best game designs, etc. You had to design a game that hooked a person immediately yet had a very high skill ceiling and challenge level to keep them playing. If a game sucked, or was broken or unfair, you can just step away. It's a very difficult problem and it's why the best arcade games are some of the best games ever.

    Mobile games are not any of this top to bottom. I remember enjoying Bubble Witch 2 until it was obvious they designed the levels to make it impossible without buying cheats. Into the trash it went. Of course, you may say, that is a King game, it's what they do... except Diablo is being made by Netease, which is in the same business.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #19 NiceGuyNeon 7 days ago

    Nah and I'm kind of disappointed that an article like this is on USG, I'm still team it isn't for you so calm the hell down. Disappointment is one thing, what we're seeing is not disappointment but the usual entitlement of I expect all things to be for me and about me at all times. A lot of it is downright toxic and inappropriate behavior.

    Was it disappointing? Sure, it's not exactly the Diablo game people expected. Was it maybe a little tone-deaf of Blizzard? Sure, in that venue of mostly PC gamers it probably wasn't going to be a celebrated announcement. And you can express your disappointment in ways that aren't toxic or inflammatory and then just not buy or play the product.

    I'm a Diablo die-hard and I probably will not touch Diablo Immortal, and that's OK because it isn't really for me. There's no controversy about the game, the controversy is in the shitty community.Edited 6 days ago by NiceGuyNeon
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  • Avatar for Funny_Colour_Blue #20 Funny_Colour_Blue 7 days ago
    @Number1Laing Yeah, that picking-up-rare-items-from-dead-enemies is a crucial game mechanic in the Diablo series It's arguably the heart and soul of the series. I remember years ago, I'd spend a friday night farming Act 1 Bosses with my girlfriend in Diablo 2 just to get some really cool items to sell.

    Yet so many Diablo clones seem to get this idea wrong. Like, in Diablo, you'd get into situations where you find like a +1 Club or a Club with a faster hit rate. It's almost like instinctive trying on a new pair of shoes in a video game; you try them on and sort of have to feel out which Club is the better one. Because often, it's that one Club or Sword that you're going to carry with you throughout the rest of the game - I never realized how crucial equipment choices were in that game till I finished the PSone port of Diablo 1 years later.

    Like, it just feels weird - the series was sort of built around, putting in a certain amount of time, learning how the game works and then being rewarded with some really great loot. I don't know how they're going to do it, but throwing in monetization into the series, feels kind of dishonest and cheap.
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #21 nadiaoxford 6 days ago
    @NiceGuyNeon "Was it disappointing? Sure, it's not exactly the Diablo game people expected. Was it maybe a little tone-deaf of Blizzard? Sure, in that venue of mostly PC gamers it probably wasn't going to be a celebrated announcement. And you can express your disappointment in ways that aren't toxic or inflammatory and then just not buy or play the product."

    I'm afraid I'm not clear where I said otherwise, or somehow encouraged gamers to riot and freak out.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #22 NiceGuyNeon 6 days ago
    @nadiaoxford actually you deserve an apology, I'm sorry. I misread part of the original post when I read it first and took your response about people responding with "it's not for you" as a criticism of that response as well, but re-reading that paragraph you didn't do that. My mistake, I thought your conclusion included those people being wrong which was my disappointment, but I am not disappointed in this article and you are correct. Sorry again!
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  • Avatar for nadiaoxford #23 nadiaoxford 6 days ago
    @NiceGuyNeon No problem! Thanks :)
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