Diablo Immortal - The one that showed everyone unfairly still hates mobile games

Diablo Immortal - The one that showed everyone unfairly still hates mobile games

You just know that Blizzard's PR and community team knew they were in for a bad day when the company decided to announce a new mobile entry in the Diablo franchise

Prior to this year's Blizzcon, the firm had been very open about the development of a new mainline entry in the demonic franchise. The company had even said we wouldn't be seeing anything from this new title for some time.

So come November 2nd, when Diablo Immortal was announced to the world, all hell - pun intended - broke loose. The fans were up in arms that their favourite franchise was getting the smartphone treatment rather than a brand new all-singing-all-dancing PC or console iteration.

It shows that there is still a massive stigma surrounding the mobile games space. Indeed, the early days of the App Store and Google Play marketplace did see some rather, um, lacklustre ports of 'traditional' titles to a mobile format. Companies like Rockstar and Square Enix released direct version of the likes of Grand Theft Auto 3 and Tomb Raider to iOS and Android - complete with virtual joysticks - which did not go down too well.

Yet times have changed - though try telling gamers that - and now triple-A franchises are getting the love they deserve on mobile platforms. We have to look no further than Square Enix Montreal's Go franchise, which brought IP such as Hitman, Tomb Raider and Deus Ex to the small screen. Oh, and then there's Hearthstone from none other than Blizzard which proved that the formula works.

But of course we got the same outrage we always do.

The fact that Blizzard has teamed up with Chinese publishing giant to launch this game shows who this market is for, despite the company's strong denials. Mobile is the dominant platform in that part of the world, and this region is becoming increasingly important for the global games market. So it stands to reason that Blizzard, a company that already has a strong following in China thanks to Overwatch and World of Warcraft, should try to capitalise on this.

As has written before, Western gamers are becoming less and less of a focus for triple-A companies as they try to attract the growing and lucrative Chinese middle class. It's not just Blizzard either; Ubisoft, too, has made its intentions for China very clear, making some ill-received changes to its flagship tactical shooter Rainbow Six: Siege.

Whether Diablo Immortal is any good is yet to be seen, but one thing is certain - a game maker with the calibre of Blizzard should have the confidence of its fans because time and time again the firm has smashed it out of the park.

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.


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As a person who’ve been hoping Diablo would come to the mobile market since the release of Diablo 3, I can say this: Immortal is a huge disappointment. Certainly there are out-of-this-world mobile titles out there, like Vainglory, that even PC gamers dream of having them on a PC, but these game are really RARE, and only make about 1-2% of the App/Play Store.
There are already tons of shitty, copy/pasted Hack’n’Slash games on mobile stores. And the MMO genre has gained itself a very questionable reputation on the said mobile markets. Yet, Blizzard seems to not try hard or make this release unique, compared to other existing title- seen by how “original” Immortal’s gameplay and UI are. Sure, Blizzard has a good reputation, but right now, Immortal just seem to feed and leech off of the franchise’s name.
I really hope PC gamers would give mobile gaming a chance, but looking at what Blizzard has been teasing us with- Immortal looks half-assed, half-baked and shows little integrity. I want ACTUAL PC games, but on a mobile device, not a discount or Lite version (I have devices strong enough to handle intense graphic, so...). I want real touch control and not this joy-stick gimmick, and would much prefer a Pay-Once-And-Play approach ($19,99 seems fair) and not the F2P/In-App Purchase bullshit. Judging from how game engines can’t change over-night, what we saw in those teasers might be the end result...The only thing Mobile games have better than PCs is frequent update, let’s hope Blizzard is sober enough to lead Immortal in the right direction.
Henry Hurndall Analytics director at SIS
I agree with Emile on the fact that Blizzards complete disregard for it's long time fans and those who recognise diablos potential on pc rather than mobile/ focus on monetary gain which is disgusting to begin with. I feel blizzard have to tread carefully as we have seen with EA what fans boycotting game companies cam do if they are riled up, with examples such as Battlefield and Battlefront, though I'm sure Blizzard would ultimately survive should stocks plummet in any way due to this effect.
However, I also believe that eastern influence is ultimately unavoidable, and while implementing a strong mobile presence makes sense, it is a stupid idea to prioritize mobile as a platform for diablos series, this move I would likely attribute to the new staff who likely have complete disregard for long time fans. A much better move would be to carry on the series using pc as a platform, since if as you mentioned overwatch is popular, surely they have desktops to begin with? I'm not against them using mobile as a platform for games, on the contrary it's a wonderful idea. But it SHOULD be a spinoff or a side game, NOT a continuation of the main series, this I think would be the best move and hopefully Is the actual plan of the publishers, though I doubt that is the case, if It was they would have announced they were developing it after receiving backlash. One can only hope it really is just an out of season April fools joke.
Emile Kassa NUNYA
While I can't dispute the inherently dismissive attitude people have to mobile games I feel that reputation is well earned. Predatory business models and a distinct lack of quality control and respect for licenses are abundant. The examples you gave of good licensed games are considered exceptional and even then there is debate around hearthstones business model. Just a month ago you specified in an article that blizzard saw the chinese mobile oriented market as having a lower set of standards. If developers treat the market with so little respect why should anyone else?
Henry Hurndall Analytics director at SIS
Emile Kassa NUNYA
I mean if someone wants to play these games thats on them but seeking validation is just as foolhardy as finding meaning in review scores.