You have to wonder how Blizzard thought this announcement was going to go down with their extremely volatile fanbase. After waiting over 4 years since the release of Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls for a new game, fans are frustrated with the seeming lack of interest Blizzard is showing in one of their core franchises and desperate for news on the contrary. Whether Diablo 4, a remake of a classic Diablo title, or even just another character pack (like a Druid….) for Diablo 3 similar to Rise of the Necromancer, everyone just wants something so they know that Blizzard hasn’t forgotten about them.
So it should not have come as much of a surprise that bringing only a mobile game spinoff to Blizzcon, Blizzard’s premier event to discuss all current and upcoming titles, was not going to go over well with anyone. That regardless of any premise or quality of the actual title (the lack of which I’ll get to in a second), the fact that it’s been 4 years for a phone game instead of a proper title was going to result in nothing but indignant rage. Especially since every other game there had a fine showing, it was like salt in the wounds.
There was a lot of excitement surrounding Diablo‘s presence at this year’s event as well. Blizzard took to Twitter and released a video on YouTube hinting at big news for Diablo coming at Blizzcon, with multiple projects in the works. The rumor mill of course started running wild, ranging from theories about a Netflix show straight up to a Diablo 4 reveal during the opening ceremony. People were expecting big things, a large part directly in fault of Blizzard themselves. After being almost completely ignored at the last two events, doing so a third time would have annoyed people, but would not have been surprising. Instead they got everyone’s hopes up for a fleeting second that something was finally coming, only to have it all come crashing down in an Azmodan sized PR disaster.
If Blizzard truly had nothing big to show in even a concept state, it would have been best simply to wait. Maybe even just toss up a rough Logo to hype everyone up for something definitive on the horizon, with more details to come and leave it at that. It worked for World of WarCraft Classic, it would have worked here. After that if they still insisted, during a private panel far away from the opening, they could then have shown this off, making sure to make clear it’s a stopgap until the next real game got here. There would still have been major backlash of course, that was completely unavoidable, but there would have been a silver lining. As it stands the future seems even more grim for Diablo fans then it did when there was nothing coming.
As for the game itself, it looks pretty underwhelming. What you expect a Chinese mobile game to look like, but with Diablo monsters and classes. It might even have been a fun distraction in short periods, but is incredibly unlikely to replace Diablo 3 on the Nintendo Switch as the definitive handheld experience. But after this disaster, its immortality is in question.