Experienced Points: The Last Bastion of PC Gaming Goes Mobile

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Nov 14, 2018

Filed under: Column 116 comments

My column this week is a breakdown of why the response to the Diablo: Immortal announcement was so negative. I tried to keep the outrage distant and abstract and just look at this from the point of view of a PC-centric audience.

Having said that, how bad was the outrage? The big meme-worthy moment was when one guy asked the presenters if the announcement was an out-of-season April Fool’s joke. Sure, that’s a little rude. But if I just spent hundreds of dollars to attend a convention focused on classic PC games made by Blizzard and the main event was a shallow phone game that wasn’t made by Blizzard, I’d probably be pretty miffed too. Where is this supposed outrage? The toxicity? To me it feels less like outrage and more like annoyance and disappointment. I’m sure we can go on Twitter and find some loony spewing personal attacks at the developers, but if that’s your standard for public outrage then literally everything is an outrage because there’s always That Guy.

I think it’s still a controversy worth talking about, simply because it shows a sudden shift of behavior in a major company. It’s also a pretty good example of a major miscalculation that seems obvious in retrospect.

So what happens next? Right now it feels like anything is possible and nothing is likely. Blizzard PR seems to be AWOL, but I’m guessing this caught them flat-footed and they’re scrambling to form a strategy. Will Blizzard double down? Will they backpedal? I’m curious what everyone thinks, so let’s do a poll:

You know what I’d love to see? A new MMO from Blizzard. I know that’s a pipe dream. If they put out a new MMO it would probably just cannibalize the World of Warcraft userbase and that’s the last thing they want. Still, I’d love to see a modern action-based MMO with the legendary Blizzard polish. Something like Black Desert Online except not terrible.

If you’ve got questions or suggestions for future columns, please do let me know in the comments.

 


From The Archives:
 

116 thoughts on “Experienced Points: The Last Bastion of PC Gaming Goes Mobile

  1. TLN says:

    There were a lot of upset people on places like the Diablo subreddit that maybe went a bit overboard, but generally regarding this stuff I find it much more weird (and slightly discomforting) that so many people come crawling out from everywhere to be outraged AT the people who are outraged. I must have seen hundreds of blog posts/articles/tweets by now from both random fans and games journalists, putting all their focus on stuff like the fact that the guy asking that question during the Q&A was rude and should have been thrown out, and that you shouldn’t be allowed to be disrespectful towards developers (on Blizzcon or just in general).

    And okay sure, if everyone is respectful to each other at all times on the Internet that’d be great, but if you’re going to extend that to even not being allowed to criticize a gaming company anymore, that seems crazy.

    1. Daimbert says:

      Yeah, that’s the strange thing. I’m a bit disconnected from mainstream games commentary — mostly only getting it here — but I only heard about the outrage at the outrage, and not about the outrage itself. Normally I hear more about that, even in the comment threads here.

      1. TLN says:

        And to be clear I think everyone who paid a lot of money to go to Blizzcon are entirely in the right should they choose to be outraged. Hell, even if you’re just an old fan of Blizzard reading the news on the Internet there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be upset, but just imagine if you spent an entire weekend and hundreds of dollars going to Blizzcon only to have this be the big reveal. Of course you’d be mad!

        Blizzard was a huge company even before they got acquired by Activision, at this point they’re a giant and nobody should feel like they need to ‘support’ them if they start putting out games you absolutely do not want or care about. People like to talk about how gamers aren’t entitled to be pandered to, but that goes both ways: developers aren’t entitled to your support just because you liked their previous games. I’ve played and liked mostly every game Blizzard ever made, but that doesn’t make them my friend any more than I’m friends with Nike because I like their shoes.

        1. Liessa says:

          Totally agree with this. Yes, the April fools joke question was (slightly) disrespectful, but it was equally disrespectful of Blizzard to hype up a third-party mobile game to an audience of hardcore PC gamers (who’d paid to be there!) and then expect praise for it. For the fans, it must have felt like being told “fuck you, you are not our target audience any more. So long and thanks for all the cash.” It would almost have been less insulting if they’d actually come out and said that; at least people wouldn’t be expected to clap and cheer for it.

          1. GloatingSwine says:

            People are saying that question was “rude” or “disrespectful”, but anyone who has worked in a customer service role for any amount of time will know that most actually rude and disrespectful customer feedback is nowhere near as restrained or witty.

            1. default_ex says:

              I can certainly attest to that one. Worked as a CSR and Delivery guy for a Pizza place. My fiance worked as an Assistant Manager at the same location. She was the go-to person when dealing with particularly rude and disrespectful customers because she handled it far better than anyone else. I was usually around when she was dealing with that kind of stuff. Majority of what she put up with, she would very likely have been excused if she hung up but she never did.

              The sort of snarky cynicism that comment displays would have been a very welcome reprieve from what we had to deal with.

          2. Well, also, the developer who was asked about it responded to the booing by saying, “what, you all have phones!”

            Yes, most people have phones these days. It doesn’t mean that they want to play games on a tiny screen when they have expensive gaming hardware with a mammoth screen that they paid for.

            I also, didn’t see much “outrage”, but it did come across as extremely audience-deaf, an assumption that “people will like this because it’s us and everything we do is awesome” instead of “how does this benefit them”.

            1. PPX14 says:

              I suppose I can understand this if from the developer’s perspective this reveal doesn’t mean no more PC games or no more PC Diablo, just that there is something additional for phones too. Every time I look at my Steam list on my phone I wish a few of them were playable on my phone somehow.

              If however, this is like releasing KotoR 3 as a purely mobile game, then I’d go insane. But maybe it’s just like releasing SWToR as an MMO. Okay that made me incredibly angry too as I’d been waiting for KotoR 3 and this meant it was dead.

              Not being a Diablo person I don’t know the context. Does this preclude Diablo 4 coming out at some point? Diablo 3 doesn’t feel like it was that long ago.

          3. guy says:

            To be honest, I think the question was actually not sarcastic. Blizzard has a long and honorable tradition of elaborate April Fools jokes and “we’re making Diablo for mobile!” followed by a lengthy explaination of why they’ve decided this is a good idea and how it will work with a completely straight face is 100% an April Fools joke they’d do.

            Like that time they revealed that the last Warcraft 3 faction was going to be pandas. No, really, Pandarans started as an April Fools joke.

        2. Echo Tango says:

          It’s been increesingly common, for people to be mad at any criticism of their franchise or games-publisher / -developer company. I guess they’re worried that any backlash will hurt the possibility of things that they enjoy? It still seems fairly stupid though, when they defend their company of choice from *any* criticism, and not just criticisms of a particular choice of genre. If you’re worried about other fans swaying the company to switch focuses to a different type of game, I think that’s reasonable, but defending the company from criticism of poor quality just hurts both groups of gamers (us/them, criticisers/defenders) in the long term, by encouraging the company to produce poor games.

          1. DeadlyDark says:

            There was that guy on youtube, Strat-Edgy (I know, the name), and he’s done a pretty good video (Resistance To Change), which (not from the beginning, it has few minutes introduction about Dark Souls, that’s a bit meandering) was about reading one scientific paper/essay, that shows few points that explain why people got attached for the franchises/companies like in that fashion (he gives his input, by applying these points to games)

            1. Echo Tango says:

              I think I’d have preferred the original scientific paper. His video was a failed attempt (in my opionion) at humor. :)

              1. DeadlyDark says:

                With this guy, it’s hard to say. But yeah, reading the original article would be a better option

            2. PPX14 says:

              Hey cool I came across him a few days ago for his video on Thief 4.

      2. Agammamon says:

        Mainstream game commentary is full of Knights. All over the place. White and Black.

        Take a look at the FO76 Reddit. Its basically a circlejerk of people complaining about people criticizing the game.

        For some reason, there are people who see ‘Fallout’ and swear this is the bestest ever game in the history of games and if you don’t agree it can only be that you’re an evil person trying to destroy the company. And God help you if there are near-competing franchises. Again – ‘FO4 is the bestest game of all games and FNV is complete shite’ no ‘FO4 was complete shite and FNV was the bestest ever’ was basically the content of the Steam FNV and FO4 forums for over a year.

        I do think though, that that is a product of our demographic skewing young. Like teenager young. Especially since PC gaming is basically an offshoot of console gaming now – console gamers make up the mass of us and the young ones (hi Vivian!) are the ones with the time to sit on forums fighting over hype.

    2. Mephane says:

      By the way, when the downvotes started coming in on the cinematic and gameplay trailers on Youtube, Blizzard quickly re-uploaded them, unlisted the reuploaded videos, and distributed links to those videos only, to gaming news sites etc. It was a very obvious attempt to mask the downvotes. I am wondering whether this might even violate some part of the Youtube TOS.

      1. Mintskittle says:

        There’s certainly something shady going on, as apparently comments were being deleted, and even downvotes being removed.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itBu7xfYekk

        1. Erik says:

          I think, but im not sure, (some) content uploaders have the ability to remove comments and downvotes from people who did not watch the (entire) video. So I think thats what someone at blizzard did.

    3. Benjamin Hilton says:

      I think this is also a good example of how making your point like a jerk-ass can hurt your cause later on. Sure you may feel justified in flipping out over a topic, but later on when other people have legitimate grievances, the defenders can point to the one crazy person and say “look this is just more unreasonable toxicity, ignore them.”

      1. Mark says:

        Problem is there will always be some crazy person somewhere, and in the age of the Internet it’s the work of moments to lift that crazy person out of obscurity and present them as the face of ENTITLED TOXIC GAMERS to an audience that’s already been primed for that narrative.

        1. Syal says:

          And if you can’t find one it’s the work of minutes to fabricate it.

    4. Fon says:

      I could be cynical, but I think it is just some sort of viral propaganda. You know, company paying or hiring people to pretend to be legitimate audiences, in order to sway the public opinion? One of their favorite method is launching personal attacks against all dissenters.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Nah. The anti-consumer attitude we’re seeing from journalists was developed during the culture wars. This is just how they think about gamers now; any complaint from those filthy neckbeards must be childish entitlement, and any excuse to attack them is good enough.

        As disconnected as Diablo: Immortal might seem, the bleedover is inevitable. They’re following the only script they know at this point.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          journalists…This is just how they think about gamers now; any complaint from those filthy neckbeards must be childish entitlement, and any excuse to attack them is good enough.

          Which would be a valid point…if I’d seen a massive media outcry about Blizzard’s fans.
          No, no, I’m sure you can come up with examples. Please don’t bother, it’s beside the point I’m trying to make, which is this: you do get the irony of this statement, right? If you don’t, try this:

          gamers…this is just how they think of journalists now. Any opinion you give that they disagree with must be a sign of lack of proper ethics, and any excuse to attack them is good enough.

          It’s exactly as true, helpful, and provable as what you said.

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            Your argument really only works if you refuse to acknowledge that there can be either a quantitative or qualitative difference in the respective examples being cited. The very fact that this narrative about “outrage” exists should raise the question of where it came from, or why it’s being talked about. If it wasn’t a pre-existing construct, it couldn’t have spread so quickly or easily.

            All you’re really doing is making your argument unfalsifiable, which of course also makes it meaningless.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              The very fact that this narrative about “outrage” exists should raise the question of where it came from, or why it’s being talked about.

              Well, sure – everyone’s got a narrative about how ‘the other side’ works and why they do what they do. My point isn’t so much about how ‘true’ any given narrative is as it is about the effect of, and reasons for, believing in it.

              So. There’s some evidence that some journalists are too close to the publishers of the games they review and then they hide behind excuses. That’s bad.
              And some gamers overreact to opinions they don’t like really, really badly – or are just using that as an excuse to be misogynist. That’s also bad.
              How widespread are these problems? How big are these sub-groups? Who’s lying? What do they really think?
              Good luck finding an objective answer to any of these, especially on an internet this partisan.

              Forget how ‘true’ a narrative is and ask instead: what do you (and not just you of course; everyone, including me) get by believing in it? Or by stating it?

              And how helpful is it?

              1. guy says:

                Well, I haven’t seen it around much, but I learned about Diablo Immortal because within the day the outrage spiked so high I heard about it on Law Twitter. But I think it vanished as swiftly as it arrived and Blizzard will learn the lesson that sometimes if you ignore a problem it will go away.

              2. Bloodsquirrel says:

                Forget how ‘true’ a narrative

                … no?

                I think that sorting out what is actually true and what isn’t should be the first step here. Anything else is just an invitation for open-ended recrimination. Equivocating between libelous accusations and factual reports of genuine toxicity rewards lying and enables misbehavior. The internet isn’t going to get any less partisan because we refuse to make an effort to sort it out.

                1. BlueHorus says:

                  What I’d ask is how much are your efforts going to make the internet less partisan, especially considering the difficulty involved.
                  And that this is one of the Internet’s many endless arguments where both sides have something invested in their point of view and so might not care about what’s true anyway.
                  And it’s all just about a computer game to boot!

                  But, of course, your time & effort are yours to spend as you will.

                  1. Bloodsquirrel says:

                    What I’d ask is how much are your efforts going to make the internet less partisan, especially considering the difficulty involved.

                    Things become “less partisan” when the truth becomes obvious enough to be generally accepted.

                    And I’m not convinced that doing right by people isn’t a worthy goal just because it’s “partisan”. Anything can be partisan when somebody decides to oppose it. Vaccinations have become partisan. That doesn’t mean we should stop giving them to people until everyone agrees to stop arguing about it.

                    And it’s all just about a computer game to boot!

                    Well, that’s the rub. It’s not just about a computer game. Just like everything else, it’s a potential battleground for the culture war. Which, while annoying, is inherent to the nature of the culture war, and it would be naive to act like it isn’t.

  2. Mephane says:

    I’ve seen the announcement live and for a short moment I thought yeah, I would actually like to play a proper Diablo game, developed by Blizzard themselves and free from all the P2W BS that 99% of all mobile games come attached with, on my phone.

    Then it became clear that Blizzard is not making this game, they’re merely licensing another company to do so. And the company that does, is known, infamous, for greedy P2W schemes, even hated among people who generally don’t mind these schemes per se, i.e. the very target audience for this new game.

    Blizzard essentially went the extra mile to make this debacle as bad as possible.

    Well, at least we got another meme out of this. Don’t you have phones is the sequel to sense of pride and accomplishment.

    Where is this supposed outrage? The toxicity? To me it feels less like outrage and more like annoyance and disappointment. I’m sure we can go on Twitter and find some loony spewing personal attacks at the developers, but if that’s your standard for public outrage then literally everything is an outrage because there’s always That Guy.

    To reuse the structure of a common saying: when you are used to fans cheering at everything announced at your convention, outspoken disappointment feels like outrage.

    1. Bookwyrm says:

      Blizzard essentially went the extra mile to make this debacle as bad as possible.

      Wait, so we’re still getting Blizzard level quality, even when they screw up? XD

    2. Mephane says:

      Small addendum: A few times over the course of the past few years I’ve had heard speculation that the next big Diablo title might be a full-blown MMOARPG. So when Wyatt Chang started talking about how the world is connected and everyone is online, for a moment I was 100% expecting he would announce D4 the MMO, Diablo Online, or something like that. I was certainly not the only one with such thoughts, so when it became clear this was only about a mobile game (that looked just like all the other mobile ARPG P2W shovelware titles), the realization hit doubly hard.

  3. unit3000-21 says:

    Yeah the outrage doesn’t seem that huge, just people being dissapointed. Arguably MovieBob stirred a bigger controversy with his kinda misjudged opinion on the roots of the reaction people at Blizzcon had. I think it’s because he’s a Nintendo kid and from the outside PC gamers can seem a bit douchey if you didn’t feel the effects of “PC gaming is dead” policy yourself.

    1. BlueHorus says:

      I was most amused to read that most of the comments over at Shamus’ Escapist article (when I looked) were comprised of a classic Internet Argument about MovieBob between two random people.

  4. Preciousgollum says:

    I haven’t seen much in the way of media criticism over outrage. In fact, I’m surprised how little there has been. I’d expected more of the ‘(X) fans are (derogatory) (gender) (expectation) (insult)’ types of articles than we actually got.

    Generally speaking, everything I have read has been mostly in line with critiquing Blizzard. If anything, it seems that the media couldn’t wait to criticise Activision-Blizzard for the perceived as poorly received marketing campaign.

    I suspect that this was a freebie on the part of the media (who probably don’t like that these company-designed fan-oriented events interfere with their job) and so interests align for a short time and we get media criticism of a company. Not very good criticism, mind you. Not much in the way of consumer advocacy. More the sort of placating towards fans that the media would otherwise criticise… (and as a result giving a mobile game a lot of extra coverage/advertising that it otherwise wouldn’t have got nudge nudge wink wink ?)

    If anything, a lot of the media that I have seen seems to set almost unrealistic expectations of what a company must announce around (insert venue conditions). It mIght have the effect of artificially inflating the egos of ‘the entitled’ who go to these events, so that they’re ripe for criticism later on. The narrative also has changed slightly over the past couple of days which sets up the ‘hardcore’/’privileged gamer’ as apparing to be the ‘gatekeeper’ of a franchise at the cost of an imagined ‘mainstream audience’ for (insert franchise).

    So, yea, over time I almost fully expect that the media will exonerate the side of (Activision)-Blizzard, but the media is currently taking a detour through the valley of fan appeasement. For now.

  5. Asdasd says:

    The idea of the entitled fan, for whatever reason, is a compelling one that takes on a larger than life aspect in the imagination. We find the idea of these outraged hordes so disgraceful that we are willing to believe in them without requiring much or any proof.

    I think the best example of this is the Smug Rick and Morty Fan. Everyone has the image in their heads: a fedora wearing, neck-bearded, sword-collecting, militantly atheist turbo-virgin who condescends to everyone while extolling the intellectual virtues of his favourite show (and by extension its audience), while decrying the lapse in standards among non-watching normies who couldn’t hope to understand its subtleties.

    But did anyone actually encounter one of these individuals? The best I can tell, the meme originated from whole cloth via a sarcastic reddit copypasta and some youtube videos of dubious providence. Maybe these toxic fans really do exist, and I just don’t frequent the right websites to run into them, but I think its a cultural idea that just finds a lot of currency because nerds are a group everyone loves to hate (even other nerds).

    [Disclaimer: I don’t actually like Rick and Morty that much. I find the show itself kind of smug and intellectually self-satisfied.]

    1. ccesarano says:

      I think the Rick and Morty fan thing saw a pretty big spike in condescension and distaste when the McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce thing happened. Even then, it’s going to be overblown like Black Friday incidents tend to be. I’ve gone to plenty of stores on Thanksgiving night and Black Friday because I am Part of the ProblemTM, but never have I encountered violence in any of the stores. So there were a number of different McDonald’s that ran out of the Szechuan sauce and saw a bunch of angry adult nerds riot like children, including the infamous one that yelled “I AM PICKLE RIIIIIICK!” or whatnot, and an assumption was made that this happened at EVERY McDonald’s and aren’t those fans such villains.

      Personally, I find the love of the show’s protagonist rather disturbing and am uncertain even the creators are aware their protagonist is no hero. Unlike, say, The Simpsons or even Futurama, where the whole point is that these aren’t role-models, Rick and Morty seems to celebrate its broken, narcissistic protagonist way too often. But I also imagine most of the show’s fans found out their local McDonald’s ran out of Szechuan sauce and thought “Aw man” and then got themselves a trash burger anyway.

      1. Lame Duck says:

        Morty literally has a line about that in season 3:

        “Well, he’s not a villain, Summer, but he shouldn’t be your hero. He’s more like a demon or a super fucked-up god.”

      2. Bloodsquirrel says:

        I think there’s been a change in season 3. Before then, Rick was as much of a fuck-up as a genius. But now the series is creeping closer and closer to falling in love with him and buying into the memetic bullshit about him.

        1. BlueHorus says:

          Really? I got the impression that Season 3 was making more of an effort to both make Rick more obviously pathetic/the bad guy* and show that the other members of his family are wising up and being less wiling to put up with him. I’d like it if he was less successful, but the show seems to be praising him less than it did before to me.

          Of course, whatever fans of the show are making of him is something else entirely. I don’t know either way on that.

          *I don’t think anyone writes that their character got blackout drunk, shat himself and then blacked out into said shit because you want to make him look good

          1. Bloodsquirrel says:

            It’s a subtle difference, but it’s creeping in.

            Season 3 treats Rick as being overall more competent, with him being able to take down both the entire council of Ricks and the galactic government in the first episode. In the previous seasons, Rick was more prone to ending an episode in a flat-out failure state. Rick, for all of his genius, lost at least as much as he won, and it was his flaws that caused him to lose. There was the infamous Cronenberg episode, or the episode that ended with him trying to commit suicide.

            More and more, though, Rick’s flaws are being treated as a way to show off just how awesome he really is. Instead of his flaws driving him into failure, he succeeds in spite of them. Rick gets blackout drunk and shits himself, but that doesn’t stop him from showing how much better he is than the Revengers while blackout drunk. Pickle Rick was an exercise in showing how Rick could be totally awesome, even after stupidly turning himself into a pickle. His flaws might be allowed to get him into trouble, but they won’t stop him from getting out of it anymore.

            I think the line about Rick being “a super fucked-up god” actually sums it up pretty well. Rick was a lot of things in seasons 1-2, but a god was not one of them. The quote purports to deconstruct him, but what it really does is elevate him to a place where he shouldn’t be.

            1. BlueHorus says:

              And of course the last episode is him proving at length that he’s better than the whole US military…and he only stops because his family makes him back down. Good points.
              And of course while in previous seasons you might ask ‘Wait, what?’ of his plans – and then be proved right when they failed horribly…
              …in season 3 he does quite a lot of smugly knowing everything, and then of course ending up being right.

              Hm. We’ll see what season 4 brings…

    2. Geebs says:

      I believe the best place to locate that sort of fan is at a Tool gig*.

      (* I love Tool, and I don’t own a sword or a fedora)

  6. krellen says:

    I just want to come down here to point out that Blizzard was not acquired by Activision. Activision and Blizzard’s parent company, Vivendi, merged, and the new company branded themselves “Activision Blizzard”. Blizzard isn’t a junior partner.

    1. Echo Tango says:

      That seems like splitting hairs to me. The parent company of Blizzard is going to affect its policies, regardless of how it came into being. The best we can hope for is that both child companies are treated separately and given lots of leeway in how to best serve their target audiences. The worst is that Activision holds the majority of power in the “parent” company, and that they’re using that power to negatively influence how Blizzard operates.

      1. guy says:

        You’re seriously underestimating the size of Vivendi. Apparently Activision Blizzard became independent in 2013, while Ubisoft was largely sold off this March.

  7. Hal says:

    I say this a lot, but if we’re wishcasting Blizzard’s next game, I’d like to see them make another Warcraft game*: A single-player, genuine RPG. Some place where you’re not sharing the spotlight with a million other players or the pet NPCs, where you can make esoteric decisions about gear and stats based on your preferred play style. Heck, if you could multiclass? That’d be something.

    Oh, I get exactly why it would never happen. It would most certainly be Blizzard competing with itself and WoW. It would be taking away story-telling opportunities that could go into WoW. Otherwise, it becomes a story with canon that isn’t compatible with WoW, and now people feel like the narrative of the new game doesn’t matter.

    Still, that’s what’s on my wishlist.

    * – On a related note, they’re remastering Warcraft 3, and all I can think is, “Based on the effort that’s going into this, why not just make Warcraft 4.” But same reasons as above, I suppose.

    1. Mephane says:

      * – On a related note, they’re remastering Warcraft 3, and all I can think is, “Based on the effort that’s going into this, why not just make Warcraft 4.” But same reasons as above, I suppose.

      This they have answered. They want the remastered game to remain compatible with the original, to the point where even multiplayer functions between the two versions. And as en extension of this, also want the same mods work of either game (e.g. the original DOTA mod).

      1. Hal says:

        That’s not a terrible motivation, to be sure; Shamus has talked about the difficulties of older games and their compatibility issues as the years wear on.

        Still, that’s only tangential to the existence of the remaster and not an explanation for why they don’t just make an entirely new game. When they made Starcraft 2, I suspect there wasn’t much hand-wringing about compatibility with Starcraft 1, despite its tremendous popularity. (Now if they’d said they were remastering SC1, sure, I could see that concern.)

        1. guy says:

          Well, if they made Warcraft 4 like they made Starcraft 2 it’d involve a lot of very meticulous level design work for a 120-mission combined campaign in four blocks (presuming they like how Starcraft 2 did; far as I know it moved units big time) and that’s not the same kind of work as engine updates and graphics revisions using existing plans. It wouldn’t actually be that weird to have the Warcraft 3 remaster this Blizzcon and then in 2021 the headlining anouncement is that Warcraft 4 has been under development for five years “At last, the time has come.” I mean, I’m not sure they’re doing that, but Starcraft 2 is done now and they’re devoting attention to a Warcraft RTS so it wouldn’t be out of character.

        2. Blake says:

          “Now if they’d said they were remastering SC1, sure, I could see that concern.”

          They did SC1 first, Starcraft Remastered came out in August last year, totally compatible with the original.
          They’re doing Warcraft 3 next, so maybe Diablo 2 remastered after that?

        3. Lanthanide says:

          The Classic Games team at Blizzard is on the order of 10 people.

          Starcraft 2 took way more than 10 full time people to make.

  8. ccesarano says:

    I feel kind of bad because one friend of mine is working on the Warcraft 3 remaster, and that announcement has been completely over-looked it seems. I also feel kind of bad because his brother is working on Diablo Immortal in some capacity.

    Reading your Escapist column, it suddenly occurred to me that even Nintendo has somehow managed to avoid an audience disconnect this drastic in recent times, even though they’re known for “not getting gamers” amongst the hardcore (though that may have diminished since the Switch proved to be a delightful platform). I know a bunch of people found the Nintendo Labo announcement weird, but I saw a lot of positive response to it as well. I don’t recall any Nintendo Direct spotlighting one of their mobile games more than any other project, with the exception of maybe the Animal Crossing direct dedicated exclusively to the phone game. Even then, it’s one of many streams that they do throughout the year.

    The closest to a controversy I can think of is when they dedicated an entire E3 to Breath of the Wild (understandably so, given they didn’t even announce the Switch yet and had pretty much nothing major in the pipeline due to being in Switch Dev Mode), and this year’s Smash Bros. Ultimate announcement taking up the majority of their E3 presentation this year. There were plenty of people upset in each instance, but each instance is still a game that they know will make a splash among its core audience, that they have greater ambitions for beyond that audience (you know they wanted Breath of the Wild to sell better than most of the entries in the franchise (and to sell the Switch), and you know Smash Ultimate has eSports aspirations (as well as selling more systems)), and that they’re still iconic forces in the games industry as a whole.

    I guess from my perspective, if even Nintendo can get something like this right, even if only in hindsight (I mean, last year they focused a lot on Super Mario Odyssey, which turned out to be a really smart move considering the game’s success), then you gotta be supremely tone-deaf at Blizzard to screw this up.

    From my end, I think this is simply all they had that was ready to announce. If they’re working on any other project it is simply too early to show. What do you do, then? Do you pull a Bethesda and highlight a bunch of logos that communicate nothing other than “we’re working on it”? Or do you bite your tongue because you know in X months/years you’re going to be able to announce Project Awesome and everyone’s going to flip their lid?

    Then again, I’m not entirely familiar with Blizzard or their cons, and the only way you’d get me to raise an eyebrow is 1) StarCraft: Ghost is back from the dead, or even better, 2) we retained the original Swingin’ Ape Studios staff we acquired years ago and convinced Activision to let them all make Metal Arms 2. Otherwise, it’s just Blizzard Blizzarding to me, so I have no comparison points regarding past spotlights and announcements.

    1. Christopher says:

      I think the big Nintendo mainstream sellout moment was the Wii, where millions upon millions bought the console and then proceeded to play nothing but Wii Sports on it. I haven’t done any research on this or anything, but in my group of friends the Wii is what pushed a lot of us to get a 360 or a ps3, what with most of its games being shovelware and the few great games being great largely in spite of the wiimote control rather than because of it(the few outliers being the games where say, a mouse would’ve been useful, like for aiming in RE4 or Metroid Prime 3).

      The Wii U and Switch have largely earned that respect back, they’re making better games with fewer gimmicks than in a long time.

      1. ccesarano says:

        You do have a point, though even then it was a bit different in execution. During the time of the Wii, Nintendo began to focus more on making games “accessible” for non-gamers by simplifying or becoming too obsessed with the motion control (in addition to, well, them being toy makers, which is basically how they continue to view themselves and why they seem to insist on “gimmicks” so often). For example, Mario Kart Wii became really bad with the blue shell because they wanted anyone to be able to win at any time regardless of skill level.

        This attempt to court the new audience and their traditional fans was a disaster, and they soon discovered by the WiiU that those new fans weren’t going to buy anything but Wii Sports, Wii Fit, and Just Dance. The WiiU had some of their best games for their respective franchises available, but sadly damage was done. Nevertheless, they still showcased games for different audiences. They wanted Other M more accessible, for example, but they knew their hardcore fanbase would want it more than the casual audience (until everyone played it and then it becomes one messy discussion).

        1. guy says:

          I don’t think the Wii was a mistake; the motion controller was unusual and all but Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Brothers Brawl were a pretty big hit with everyone I personally know.

          I think the WiiU was a mistake, and not because it had a gimmick. It was a mistake because its gimmick sucked. I mean, sure, it’s like the DS gimmick and that was a good gimmick though they kinda overdid it, but it’s a pain to be looking at both screens when one’s in your hands and the other is across the room. But the thing that made me say “this is a bad idea and I’m not interested in getting a WiiU” was hearing that you could only use one of the special controllers at once. Which is a big obstacle for couch multiplayer, and while I do play Nintendo single player games, it’s having friends over to play games that makes it Nintendo Time. Then the Switch came out and its gimmick was that it was a console that was also a handheld and I am trying to 100% Breath Of The Wild.

    2. Karma The Alligator says:

      is 1) StarCraft: Ghost is back from the dead,

      Ah, so I’m not the only one still interested in it.

    3. GloatingSwine says:

      I think it is mostly because Nintendo have, whilst they’ve been doing the more experimental stuff like Labo which is clearly not for most of the core audience, people also know they’re working on their core franchises.

      At E3 2017 they announced Metroid Prime 4 with literally just a logo and the number 4, but that was enough to say “we have not forgotten Metroid, something is coming”, and so the base was pacified.

      And that’s maybe all Blizzard needed. A logo and the number 4.

  9. Geebs says:

    I’m basically on board with Russ Pitts’ and Jim Sterling’s take on the whole thing.

    1) The people who attend Blizzcon are Blizzard’s über-whales. These are the people who have been totally OK with all of Blizzard’s previous monetisation strategies; they’ve paid thousands in subs for WOW for nearly a decade, they used the Auction House, they paid three times for Starcraft 2, they buy loot boxes in Overwatch. Hell, they even paid a couple of hundred dollars for the privilege of watching a bunch of advertisements in a room full of sweaty nerds. If these people can’t tolerate your new freemium game, you Dun Goofed.

    2) Not liking what mobile games have become is not entitlement. Not liking freemium games and loot boxes is not entitlement. Not wanting to play a game developed by a studio founded entirely on the manipulative tricks people use to reel in whales is not entitlement. Not wanting to be seen to encourage the general acceptance of predatory monetisation in games is not entitlement.

    3) The idea that Blizzard’s fans are are monsters for complaining about the creeping onslaught of monetisation and privacy infringement because one of the development team might have had their feelings hurt by some harsh – but not personally directed – questions in an open Q&A session is either batshit insane or some black belt level PR deflection. Similarly the idea that the project should be immune from criticism because “the developers worked really hard” is kind of a weak argument and, I suspect, not in line with anybody else’s experience of employment.

    4) Personal attacks at tangentially-associated low level company employees over the internet is bad and wrong, makes everyone look bad, and detracts from the argument. On the other hand the constant banging of the “entitlement” drum is completely tone deaf.

    Honestly, I think Blizzard’s games are rather bland and Diablo in particular is a real snorefest as far as I’m concerned. I used to buy their stuff, though, because they were one of the only software houses who produced Mac versions of games on the same CD, and I thought that was pretty cool of them. More of the carrot and less of the stick would be nice.

    1. Geebs says:

      5) I think MovieBob’s video about how this is an example of gatekeeping nerds not wanting other people to have nice things*, rather than people just not liking a thing and daring to express and opinion, says a lot more about him than it does about the nerds in question.

      (*given that we’re talking about freemium games, I guess we’re lumping in all of the countries who have recently updated their gambling legislation in with the party-pooping Blizzard fans)

      1. Asdasd says:

        Well we’re all eyeballs-deep in the culture wars now. You simply don’t pass up an opportunity to call the outgroup names, consequences be damned, and everyone is a part of someone else’s outgroup.

    2. Sourge says:

      To quote from another topic, and to support that opinion,y in regards to:

      “Similarly the idea that the project should be immune from criticism because “the developers worked really hard” is kind of a weak argument and, I suspect, not in line with anybody else’s experience of employment.”

      On the other hand, it’s important to keep in mind that just because you spent countless hours on it doesn’t mean it’s good. Many people won’t say a bad thing about it because they don’t know better, or because they’re nice.
      It can be easy to dismiss criticism as a product of basement dwellers, but really there’s just no filter on the internet and honest opinions will come out.
      And no one’s opinion is invalidated just because they can’t do it better themselves.

  10. Adam Souza says:

    Gamers are 100% right to be mad about this, the only question is how far they/we go. Death threats are a no-no. But then again, I haven’t seen any death threats, just a lot of pissed off nerds.

  11. tremor3258 says:

    I agree part of it is Blizzard being so tone-deaf on when and where to announce this. Blizzard’s supposed to pay attention. There’s definitely been some damage to their luster.

  12. Steve C says:

    Having said that, how bad was the outrage?

    Surprisingly bad.
    I attend a club with 30-50yr olds. They are not part of “gamer culture.” They aren’t the type to go on social media to complain about their outrage. They aren’t whales. Just regular Blizzard customers. Consider them insulated from the internet groupthink.
    They play Diablo 3. This announcement was the a primary topic of conversation for two separate weeks. They all knew about it via Diablo 3. They weren’t explaining it to people who did not know. (Except me, it was the first I heard of it since I don’t play Diablo.) They were outraged and venting. Hardly a statistical study, yet I believe it says something.

    I suggest flipping it around. Find current Blizzard customers that are happy (or at least neutral) about this announcement. If they don’t exist then this outrage is genuine and not a case of the internet eating itself.

    1. aradinfinity says:

      I’m mostly neutral about the Diablo Immortal announcement- it might be more accurate to say that I’m embarrassed for everyone there, but I did initially react positively to the announcement itself, if only because the thing is going to be giving us more lore. That being said, the plural of anecdote is not data, and I haven’t seen many other people reacting non-negatively to it.

    2. default_ex says:

      Well you can add me to the Blizzard customer that neutral. Have bought their games since the 90s, with the exception of World of Warcraft (at that point I experienced EverQuest PvP with maxed out stats, lost it’s fun at that point). Was I disappointed about the decision to produce a mobile game, of course. Am I pissed off, nope. More excited about Warcraft 3 Remaster. Between that and Starcraft 2 it hints they may be testing the waters to see how many Warcraft RTS fans are still willing to shell out money for the series. Gives me hope towards Warcraft 4.

    3. guy says:

      I’m peripheral; Starcraft fan through and through and while I will grouse about some plot elements if I had heard Starcraft 3 had been announced my response would still be “SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!”

      My reaction from that position was basically that this sounds like a bad idea but it is Blizzard, so maybe it’ll work out; keep me posted. Diablo 4 status? Okay there’s a Diablo 4 for the PC somewhere in the dread lands of Blizzard Time; no cause for alarm. (returns to iPad to play Six Ages Ride Like The Wind).

  13. The Rocketeer says:

    I’m sure we can go on Twitter and find some loony spewing personal attacks at the developers, but if that’s your standard for public outrage then literally everything is an outrage because there’s always That Guy.

    This cousin of strawmanning has a name: eggmanning, which is now anachronistic since Twitter doesn’t use the default egg avatar anymore. It’s a favorite of clickbait writers who know people will share articles with alarming titles warning of sectarian total war, but won’t click through to see that no one is quoted except three or fewer twitter accounts with less than fifty followers between them, though leading off with a tweet from a single larger account trafficking primarily in trolling/grifting/”sick owns” if available.

    1. Kestrellius says:

      In rationalist circles it’s sometimes called “weak-manning”. There was some discussion on Slate Star Codex a while back on renaming it “tin-manning”, on the grounds that “weakman” is a terrible name for a fallacy (and that “tin man” goes well with “strawman”), but I don’t think it ever really got off the ground.

  14. kdansky says:

    The backlash was justified. When you make your PC gaming fans pay to see an advertisement show, and then show them a mobile game that’s obviously going to be chock full of disgusting whaling tricks (because it’s made by a known Chinese developer of reskinned whaling games), you won’t get a good reaction.

    Considering people have paid for flights and hotels and a convention fee, I would not call it “entitlement” if they think the major announcement of the show was not for them at all, but for the Asian whaling market. They went there on the promise of a Diablo game, and then got bait and switched of the horrible kind. It’s like making an event for “Save the Planet” and get fifty thousand hippies to show up, and then announce your new product to be the biggest oil tanker ever made.

    And claiming that the people going to Blizzcon are not PC gamers is deliberate blindness. All the games that made Blizzard big, famous and rich are PC exclusives. Some got eventual ports (Diablo, Hearthstone), and only their newest game had a dedicated first-day console release.

    > it shows a sudden shift of behavior in a major company

    I disagree. ACTIVISION-Blizzard has been pretty shitty for a while now. They converted Heroes of the Storm into lootbox galore. They made Hearthstone, where opening packs is the best part of the experience. They made Overwatch, and buried it under loot boxes, making them main stream in the process. They made the Diablo 3 Auction House. They added DLC galore to Starcraft 2 (you can probably spend a thousand bucks on that DLC).

    They have been going slowly downhill for a while now, this is just a very prominent example.

    1. Agammamon says:

      . . . announce your new product to be the biggest oil tanker ever made.

      And when the hippies complain, stand there, genuinely puzzled, and ask ‘don’t you people have cars?’ – utterly missing the point that a hippie might use a car very differently.

    2. Drathnoxis says:

      > it shows a sudden shift of behavior in a major company

      I disagree. ACTIVISION-Blizzard has been pretty shitty for a while now. They converted Heroes of the Storm into lootbox galore. They made Hearthstone, where opening packs is the best part of the experience. They made Overwatch, and buried it under loot boxes, making them main stream in the process. They made the Diablo 3 Auction House. They added DLC galore to Starcraft 2 (you can probably spend a thousand bucks on that DLC).

      They have been going slowly downhill for a while now, this is just a very prominent example.

      Dang, pretty much all of that. I can’t think of anything else to add really.

  15. Cordance says:

    I feel like the only big thing you missed in your piece is the retirement of Mike Morhaime (CEO) was reaffirmed right before this happened. Passing of the torch was followed by the Diablo Mobile announcement. That is a fairly big sign that the weather vain of platform development has turned south. Other than that a fairly good summation of the “Anger”. Although blizzard games which where always on my must by list (dont feel bad about preordering) have started to drop off that level to watch closely and get after release.

  16. Roofstone says:

    Even China doesn’t want this game, funnily enough. Their forums are full of gripes about how Western developers think they can get away with anything “over here” and such.

    Blizz made a game nobody wanted and gave it the main spotlight. Has to be sting.

  17. Torquemurder says:

    I wish that people would stop calling the April Fools guy a jerk for asking that question. One of the problems with covering this controversy is that it’s being mostly done by people that don’t follow Diablo at all.

    The fact of the matter is that Blizzard made an April Fools joke about a Diablo mobile game in 2014. Nobody that’s talking about this realizes that that’s what he was referring to. There was a time when Blizzard realized that announcing a Diablo mobile game would go over like a fart in church. Apparently, that is no longer the case.

    1. Dan Efran says:

      Wow, that really puts all this in perspective.

    2. Dreadjaws says:

      Thank you!

      To add a little more into this subject, the first thing the guy did after the conference ended was to apologize in social media about what he said. He realized he had acted rashly out of passion, and he was basically taking it on a guy who wasn’t responsible for the decision and who was put there to take the heat.

      But, of course, everyone is taking it out on the guy anyway. He’s an easy target, and media loves their easy targets.

    3. Ander says:

      I had no idea. Thanks for linking the original post.

    4. Blackbird71 says:

      What amazes me is that Blizzard’s April Fool’s jokes have now become a roadmap for predicting their future products.

      If you don’t know what I’m referring to, look up the April Fool’s panda level and WoW’s Pandaria expansion.

      1. guy says:

        IIRC it was a panda faction. The panda level was a secret mission in The Frozen Throne and very tongue-in-cheek and got you a Pandaran Brewmaster bonus hero, which was simultaneously a joke and actually a pretty good hero.

        I consider Mists Of Pandaria to be the moment WoW officially and definitively jumped the shark and I stopped even attempting to care about lore updates.

    5. guy says:

      Wait that was a joke they actually made? I missed that one! I just assumed he asked that question because it is 100% an April Fool’s joke that they’d make.

      Mind, half the charm of Blizzard’s April Fools jokes is that they’re just barely plausible to start with, and then you scroll down…

      Robust, interactive storytelling allows every choice to matter in Happy Reaper. Will Malthael ascend to victory or fall into oblivion? Only you decide!
      New Tapright™ technology captures your clicks and taps better than ever, offering unparalleled responsiveness and absolutely no scapegoat for your imminent failure.
      An all-new, fully loaded soundscape stimulates your senses and helps you reduce stress, improve sleep, and lose weight *.

  18. Content Consumer says:

    I went with the “non-apology” option in the poll, because I couldn’t see some of the lower ones. I probably would have gone with the “combine 3, 5, 8” one if I had.
    I’m sure Blizzard will eventually (eventually meaning anywhere from days to years) make a big joke out of it. Heck, even Bethesda eventually got around to poking fun at Oblivion’s horse armor. And I’m sure mobile gaming will be a big part of the company’s strategy going forward.

    Probably “try everything on the list” is the most likely.

    BTW your results may be skewed somewhat – I can’t be the only one who didn’t see the other options. Unless that’s what the “Other” option is – someone writes in an option and it becomes part of the poll? That can’t be good, right?

    1. Agammamon says:

      . . . even Bethesda eventually got around to poking fun at Oblivion’s horse armor.

      The joke’s on us though – Creation Club is basically the same thing. People bitched about being charge $5 for a DLC item – and what is Bethesda doing now but selling DLC items for $5. And raking in money hand over fist.

      They’re not monsters, see. They’re just ahead of the curve.

    2. Shamus says:

      I expected “other” to be a catch-all for anyone that didn’t like the existing options, but it turns out it’s the opposite of that. It allows people to create endless additional answers that can’t be read because they’re too small and can never have more than one vote. Yuck.

      I’ll close the poll in a couple of days. When that happens I’ll see if I can clean that up and make a more useful chart of the results.

  19. Geoff says:

    As someone pretty distant from the controversy, I have found it pretty hard to understand. Your explanation makes sense and I hadn’t heard that was the “centerpiece” announcement.

    So what was the alternative?

    Say you were put in charge for the docket at BlizzCon this year, what would you have done differently? Looking at the list of announced items from Blizzcon, they mostly amount to minor expansions and character additions to existing games. maybe you could have rode the Warcraft III remake as the headliner, but would that have been much better?

    Assuming BlizzCon is a fixed thing (they’re not going to just not do BlizzCon), and that you couldn’t magically get Diablo IV further along in development and ready to be showcased at the show (which sounds to be its current state, in development but not ready yet) would it really have been better to just not headline anything? To showcase a remaster of an older title? Lead with some minor new character to an existing title?

    1. Shamus says:

      How I’d have done it:

      Start the show with a short announcement: “I know you’re all excited about Diablo 4, but we’re not ready to show that to you yet. But to hold you over in the meantime, he’s Diablo Immortal”.

      Then I’d make the Warcraft 3 remaster the big item. Sure, a remaster isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world. Blizcon 2018 would probably be remembered as a bit of a dud, but it’s something that could get some basic interest without stoking outrage and bafflement.

      EDIT: Okay, ACTUALLY I wouldn’t announce a stupid third-party clone-of-a-clone slot machine for preying on whales, but I’m assuming that one is mandatory.

      1. MechaCrash says:

        Blizzard has not said how the game is going to be monetized, so technically, we don’t know that it’s going to do the “pay to win glorified slot machine” thing.

        On the other hand, well, the Activision rot is clearly chipping away at Blizzard, and Activision is only behind Electronic Arts in bringing the sort of pay to win slot machine nonsense that caused phone games to be reviled to consoles and PCs, and when you factor in NetEase’s reputation? Yeah, this is going to be a disaster that makes all the money until some government or other steps in and says “you can’t control yourselves, so here’s some regulations.”

        1. Mephane says:

          There are two rather obvious indicators that this game will be monetized in the usual F2P/P2W style of mobile shovelware.:

          1. As you hinted at – Netease, the company making this game, are infamous for their overly greedy F2P/P2W systems, to the point where even people who are usually okay with such despise them. This is their specialty. It would be rather surprising for them to be hired to make something entirely different from their successful (from a business standpoint) model.

          2. People asked Blizzard how it will be monetized, and they merely said “this has not been decided yet”. I can’t believe the company doesn’t know yet. While it is plausible that they hadn’t chosen a monetization model when they started developing, it is unlikely they would not have done so by the time they are ready to announce this game to the world, especially since these days Blizzard’s modus operandi of announcing games is essentially “here is a new thing we are making, you can play the beta/demo right now”, so the game must be very far into its development cycle already. And even if the guy on stage didn’t know what the payment model would be, the suits more likely than not had already decided.

          3. Any announcement that it would not follow the typical F2P/P2W model of mobile game would have constituted a positive one. Especially after the negative fan reactions, Blizzard could have used that to appease the crowds. “Now I know what you’re thinking, so many mobile games are made not to entertain you, but drain your wallet. Not Diablo Immortal. You will be able to purchase the game like you are used to, and there will be new content DLC to buy. No cash shop. No strings attached.” You can bet that many fans (myself included) would probably cheer at that prospect. They’d think maybe this isn’t a cheap cash grab after all; maybe this is going to be a genuine Blizzard quality game; I should give it a chance. But Blizzard didn’t. When the need to bring forth something like that was the greatest, they didn’t.

          P.S.: Tragically enough, just this week Torchlight Frontiers announced their monetization model, and it is just a watered down mobile style cash shop. The usual boosters, some cosmetics (citing the most unexciting example imaginable, decoration for your keep; not armor skins; not glowing fire effects for your weapons; furniture for the keep you will probably spend only a tiny fraction of your time in), and even actual “relic items”. They could have ridden that wave of the Diablo Immortal backlash and announce with fanfares a Path Of Exile style system, but they didn’t. Oh well.

    2. Boobah says:

      They totally could just not do Blizzcon; they’ve skipped 2006 and 2012, so this year they were due to take a year off. Admittedly, in 2006 they may not have been sure Blizzcon wasn’t a one-off and in 2012 they just didn’t have time to run a convention, what with the end of the world coming up that December.

      1. Lanthanide says:

        Presumably they figured skipping 2018 would confirm a sequence of skipping every 6th year.

    3. Mephane says:

      Say you were put in charge for the docket at BlizzCon this year, what would you have done differently? Looking at the list of announced items from Blizzcon, they mostly amount to minor expansions and character additions to existing games. maybe you could have rode the Warcraft III remake as the headliner, but would that have been much better?

      If I had been in charge of Blizzcon, I’d not have announced the mobile game there at all. I’d have properly announced Diablo 4 with a minimalistic teaser like Bethesda did about Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield, and show at least some concept art. Something to wet the appetite without committing to any particular details about the actual game if those are not ready for the public yet. No talk about the mobile game at all.

      1. guy says:

        If I were setting up Blizzcon I would put the mobile game in there because we do this right or we don’t do this at all. Because Blizzcon isn’t really about the attendees; it’s about, well, us. I know Diablo Immortal exists because it was shown at Blizzcon and I hear about things at Blizzcon. From the corporate perspective Blizzcon is a giant ritual to cast Summon Media Attention.

        Now, assuming it isn’t the case that Diablo 4 abruptly canceled due to an onset of Blizzard Time and we need to pretend we meant to do that, I’d move it out of the primary spotlight. I want to make sure the visiting reporter from The Verge sees it, but the best we’re getting out of the regular audience is polite applause while they wait for us to get to something interesting. So we need to follow it up with something interesting. So I call the Warcraft 3 remaster team and tell them I want a video where we have the battle of Mount Hjal in Warcraft 3 and then it cuts to the battle of Mount Hjal in Warcraft 3 remastered. Yeah sure it’s not done; just get a Pit Lord model, a Thrall and Tyrande model, and grunt, ghoul, archer, and burrow models and give them to the video editing team and volia. Then we make that the last thing shown; it’s not as good as Diablo 4 but I’m sure we can sell it to the crowd here.

  20. I’d like to see you do a column about the “Grand Tour” video game from Amazon Studios and its somewhat weird connection with the ongoing Grand Tour show. I was scratching my head over that one, and I’d like to hear opinions from people with a broader industry view than myself.

    1. I’d also like to hear what you think about MIcrosoft buying Obsidian and their decision to treat the Xbox and PC as a “single platform” :

      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/01/microsoft-to-unify-pc-and-xbox-one-platforms-ending-fixed-console-hardware

      1. krellen says:

        I can tell you up front as Token Obsidian Fan Boy that I am extremely displeased by this and will probably no longer be supporting Obsidian.

      2. guy says:

        Wait they bought Obsidian? I, uh, am too confused by the fact that this has happened to form an opinion. Why?

        As for the single platform, ask me again if they actually finish it. It’s easier said than done. If it works, though, cool; no more Xbox One exclusives I can’t play on Windows. I’d keep an eye on whether they try to leverage this against competing games publishers but I expect that’s going to end up falling through if they ever do try and if not they’ll eat another anti-trust lawsuit soon enough and the courts will force them to stop.

      3. Mephane says:

        Well, I will treat UWP as a platform separate from PC. So anything they release exclusive to that, might as well just be a console exclusive in the first place. I might be willing to give their store a chance eventually, but not UWP. I wholeheartedly agree with this article here: https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2016/03/tim-sweeney-to-microsoft-universal-windows-platform-can-should-must-and-will-die/

        I am actually less concerned about the “only sold in the Microsoft Store” aspect because you have the same with stuff like EA’s Origin, but about the technical walled garden the platform establishes. For example, they had to implement the ability for games to have such fundamental basics as a VSync setting, because everything is closed off by default. Thanks, but no thanks.

      4. Karma The Alligator says:

        So, Games for Windows Live 3.0?

        As for them having bought Obsidian… I didn’t know and I’m sure I don’t like it.

  21. Socks says:

    Vote with your wallet.

    If there is no demand for re-branded mobile games, loot boxes, micro-transactions or pre-purchase gimmicks, the supply will quickly go away.

    We are in an age of extreme content, availability and diversity in gaming (and other parts of life) – support that with which you want to continue to grow.

    1. evilmrhenry says:

      (Looking at loot box games, as opposed to microtransation games or pre-orders.) The problem here is that these games are targeted at a small group of people who are willing to spend thousands of dollars on a video game. If I decide that LootBox the Video Game isn’t worth playing, that doesn’t matter, because I don’t have a gambling addiction. I can’t not play the game any harder than I already am, and these games don’t need that many paying customers to survive because of how much money each one pays. (Because they’re using gambling techniques.)

  22. guy says:

    I saw a report somewhere (gaming news site, can’t remember which) that the headline announcement was supposed to be a Diablo 4 teaser but Blizzard Time struck and they pulled it from the lineup too late to reschedule everything so they just made Diablo Immortal the centerpiece. Which strikes me as plausible because while Blizzard is chasing after money their marketers aren’t idiots. They had to have known that announcing a mobile game is not going to be a strong finish to the Blizzcon audience; that’s a mistake EA would make. While having a thing fall behind their internal schedule so they quietly drop it without making a specific announcement because their announced delivery date is “when it’s done” is the kind of mistake Blizzard would make.

    So I think the plan was originally that they’d end with the Diablo presentation, where Diablo immortal would be the opening act and the audience reaction would be “eeehhhh… I’ll think about it” and then the Diablo 4 trailer starts to thunderous applause. And then the more casual audience who does play a lot of mobile games (he types, playing a mobile game) would hear about it when they check their news sites for a summary of what went down at Blizzcon. And they they say, “well mobile Diablo sounds like a bad joke, but hey it is Blizzard, maybe it’s worth checking out.”

    1. guy says:

      Also I think Blizzard is savvy to the fact that internet outrage is not by itself a reliable barometer of total market opinion, especially when the target audience is people who aren’t as active in gaming forums because they just play phone games. If their PC games keep selling and Diablo Immortal sells too they’ll learn nothing from this because there’s nothing to learn. If they see their sales figures dip they’ll take a hard look at their plans. And then they’ll either shuffle mobile games into the lulls or they’ll go all mobile all the time depending on how Diablo Immortal does.

  23. Gautsu says:

    Having become pretty invested in the computer games played through the Blizzard launcher (SC 2, Diablo 3, HS, Wow, HoTS, OW, and D2) the outrage was real and everywhere. My youtube and reddit feeds are still filled with videos about Activision-Blizzard losing billions in worth. Part of the reason that the Diablo: Immortal announcement generated such anger was because Blizzard had hinted at MULTIPLE announcements regarding the Diablo franchise before Blizzcon, also hinting that the BIGGEST news would also revolve around that franchise. Getting only one announcement about a mobile game not developed by Blizzard kind of reasonably justifies some anger, but until the game comes out or they announce it’s going to cost as much as Hearthstone to play, the overall level of hate seems overdone. The announcement was tone deaf and in the wrong venue, but the level of hate people spew online goes beyond reasonable. Shit, someone up above me said they wouldn’t support Obsidian anymore because Microsoft bought them? Until they start cranking out shitty games they should be given some leeway. Diablo Immortal looks interesting enough to play on my phone, which unfortunately due to my work schedule is the platform I spend the most time on, since I can use it at work.

    1. MechaCrash says:

      I’m not going to say “I won’t support Obisdian because Microsoft bought them,” but my first thought when I heard the news was “stick a fork in them, they’re done.” Getting bought out by a bigger organization like this is usually good for the studio in the short term in that they can keep the lights on, but the question is how long they can keep being what they are before management from the parent company starts micromanaging and destroying the very qualities that made them want the studio in the first place.

  24. Mr. Wolf says:

    It’s one thing if a developer does something that’s not for you, but it’s another if they take something you loved and turn it into something you hate and end up discovering a larger and more lucrative audience in the process.

    And thus are series ruined FOREVER! A lot of people say that one bad entry doesn’t spoil the entire series, but I suspect they’ve never had to deal with their favourite title being overtaken by an MMO of the same name.

    It’s actually amazing how many trends Blizzard has spearheaded. Starcraft has really pushed e-sports. Warcraft 3 spawned MOBAs. WoW produced a glut of imitator MMOs. Hearthstone got everybody and their grandma making card games. Some of these were intentional, some were serendipitous, but all of them leave me wondering not “what do they know?”, but “what do they know, that we don’t?”.

    1. guy says:

      What Blizzard knows is to set a release date of “when it’s done”. Shamus has frequently discussed the importance of polish, and Blizzard polishes games until they shine like mirrors. Also generally they have competent people who do good work, but it’s the polish that sets them above their imitators. Even when they have a bad idea they execute it with precision; Diablo Immortal had a top-notch mobile game teaser trailer.

  25. Zaxares says:

    I think it’ll be a combination of 3 and 4. Blizzard will put out a half-apology about how the PC fanbase is still their favourite son, and they may make some announcements and release some media to show that Diablo 4 is indeed being worked on (if it’s available), but they won’t stop the mobile train, for all the economic reasons you’ve mentioned.

    1. guy says:

      I think a key mistaken assumption is that Blizzard cares what their PC fans think about their mobile games. Blizzard is trying to sell them PC games; mobile games are for people who want to spend money on mobile games.

      So from that perspective this is a minor misstep and someone’s losing their bonus and there’s going to be a big department post-mortem but there’s no reason to revise their strategy. The only thing that sticks is that it’s driven their PC announcements out of the headlines so don’t do that next time. When they release Diablo 4 eventually, the people who were mad Diablo 4 wasn’t announced instead are still going to buy Diablo 4.

      1. Bloodsquirrel says:

        I think a key mistaken assumption is that Blizzard cares what their PC fans think about their mobile games.

        I’m not sure that can be called an assumption, let alone a mistaken one, when Blizzard made it their big announcement at Blizzcon.

  26. Sannom says:

    OK, show of hands : who here was a big enough fan of the first Witcher back in 2009 to remember when they made the exact same blunder with the announcement of the console version? The outrage wasn’t quite as big because neither the series nor the developer were huge back then and it was only a timer, not an event with a ticket sold dozens of dollars, but my reaction was still the same : why would you think it was a sensible idea to hype your existing audience for this?

    Not that it mattered in the long run anyways, the thing was cancelled.

    1. Mr. Wolf says:

      Interesting comparison, but I can’t help but think of Valve announcing their card game last year. Listening to all that hype deflate in the last second of the announcement trailer never stops being hilarious.

      1. Sannom says:

        Yeah, it seems that Valve and Blizzard take their fanbase for granted perhaps a little too much.

        But at least in Valve’s case you kind of got the impression years ago that they weren’t interested in making games anymore, so if one was pessimistic enough, they could see it coming. The Witcher thing just feels stupid enough to become silly and the Blizzard thing is the same.

  27. The Nick says:

    A lot of the problems with the Blizcon presentation are a result of big name companies in the game industry going into it with the expectation that all of their customers will love anything they produce. “They’ll just sit there and clap,” or, as somebody somewhere famously said, “Shut up and clap!” is the expected audience reaction to anything developers put out.

    After all, the way the game industry reviewers are right now, everything is “Great”, no matter what.

    “Game was trash. Graphics suck. Installation literally formatted my hard drive. I wrote a bug report and I think a game dev came to my house and killed my dog. 7/10.”

  28. GTB says:

    social media sites erupted in game developers calling users “entitled” and bitching about how no matter what you do there will always be people who dislike your games and how these kinds of attitudes were ruining the industry and the whole time i’m thinking: “Uh huh. Ya’ll got some mobile shit on the way and you’re hoping like hell this blows over before your announcement, and you’re wondering what the impact of this will be and you’re hoping you didn’t just waste a year making some horrible cash grab gambling simulator in the husk of a franchise everyone liked.”

Thanks for joining the discussion. Be nice, don't post angry, and enjoy yourself. This is supposed to be fun. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*

You can enclose spoilers in <strike> tags like so:
<strike>Darth Vader is Luke's father!</strike>

You can make things italics like this:
Can you imagine having Darth Vader as your <i>father</i>?

You can make things bold like this:
I'm <b>very</b> glad Darth Vader isn't my father.

You can make links like this:
I'm reading about <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Darth_Vader">Darth Vader</a> on Wikipedia!

You can quote someone like this:
Darth Vader said <blockquote>Luke, I am your father.</blockquote>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *