The announcement of Diablo: Immortal along with the controversy that has followed has demonstrated the extensive division between the industry and community.
Disclaimer: This topic has been very divisive and its understandably that people are gonna get very emotional. That being said, under no circumstance is it acceptable to threaten anyone with harm for having a different opinion. It adds nothing to the argument you’re making and creates an unnecessary atmosphere of fear.
Blizzard Entertainment announcement of Diablo: Immortal during BlizzCon has been one of the most talked about topics in the gaming community (and not in a good way). The announcement of a mobile version of the iconic RPG / dungeon crawler has fans either concern over the future of the series or frustrated of the possibility the game might be a poorly made freemuim title.
The announcement has once again demonstrated the sharp divide between the fans of major franchises and the industry. Fans have been quick to voice their dislike or concern about the game while several industry insiders who are supportive of the game have been quick to attack critics as “entitled”.
Fans and Commentator Perspective
For the most part, fans are more concerned about the future of the series than upset. Being a mobile game, fans worry that what has made the game great will be lost or that the micro-transaction system will be either imbalanced or predatory.
Almost every major commentator has had a video up by the weekend trying to explain the backlash along with their concerns about a mobile version of Diablo. Most notably: Jim Sterling, Jeremy Hambly of TheQuartering, YongYea, and ReviewTechUSA all expressed a series of similar concerns they had regarding Diablo: Immortal.
The biggest concern that has been noted is the fear that the game will be a generic freemuim titles that will lack anything that is devoid of the depth that has made Diablo an icon. They have pointed out how the game is being co-developed by NetEase (which is known for several mobile games that are similar to Diablo), creating a fear that it’s just going to be a reskin. In regards to the fears of predatory monetization practices, most of them have pointed out to some of Activision (owned by Blizzard parent company) actions in the last few years in regards to the Call of Duty series. Also not helping Blizzard case was Wyatt Cheng insulting the fans by asking “if they have phones”.
I highly recommend checking out their videos for yourself to have a better understanding on their perspective:
Industry Defense and Public Backlash
Several of the commentators I follow have made note of an ad hominem fallacy about the backlash being the byproduct of toxic masculinity because mobile games are more popular with women gamers. This could be attributed to a series of Tweets by Will Powers, a prominent marketing and communications leader in the gaming industry.
His first Tweet on the matter was one that looked as if he was going to share his professional opinion on the matter. However it soon erupted into a major firestorm with the following Tweet:
Here’s a hot-take:
The people that bash on mobile gaming are an offshoot of toxic masculinity. They get off on hating something that they’ve traditionally associated with a heavily female audience.
— WillPowers™ (@WillJPowers) November 2, 2018
Many of course were quick to point out the fallacy of his argument (or the fact that he did the one thing that no PR expert should do). Many did voice their disagreement in a civilized manner while a few felt insulting him was a counter-argument. In response to the Tweet, a good number of women gamers did call him out on his statement:
As a woman who games, and by games i mean not playing sub par mobile games i mean playing REAL games. go fuck yourself, not wanting a good game to be made into a crappy mobile game is not toxic masculinity, get your head out of your ass.
And you don’t speak for female gamers 🙂
— Emmy (@emmyfeline) November 2, 2018
This! Toxic masculinity 🤔? I don’t think that’s true. Speaking for myself, as a female gamer, Diablo Immortals looks like a really good game but I’d prefer it on the pc/console. Even though I have a “gaming phone”, personally I’ve never been into mobile gaming.
— Chloe (@halibearish) November 3, 2018
I’m female. Been playing playing gaming since there has been video games. I bash on mobile gaming because they are hugely responsible for the deterioration of non-mobile SP gaming in general and they have turned the focus of a huge % of gaming to monetization via microtranactions
— 🍂 Autumn Witch 🥧 (@Dragon_Age_Fans) November 3, 2018
i work in mobile game advertising, am a gamer and also a feminist. this def aint it chief, it’s reaching
— Yohosie @ DH ATL (@yohosiefgc) November 3, 2018
I’m a female and I play mobile games on the toilet or when I’m about to crawl out of bed before work. -I- didn’t want diablo to be on a mobile platform. You’re a male and you’re telling me how to think! Now that’s toxic!
— Lae (@Laellana) November 3, 2018
Powers may have posted the most talked about response but other industry insiders have decided to just go straight for the “entitled gamer” insult. Adam Rosenberg and Kellen Beck of Mashable each wrote an article about the game in which they branded concerned fans as being “entitled”. Other industry insiders have decided to just out right call critics of the game “entitled” on Twitter.
In response to so many in the industry using the “entitled gamer” excuse, Mark Kern (Producer of Diablo II and Warcraft 3) was quick to defend the community while also pointing how Blizzard actions only demonstrated how out of touch they are with the fans.
Blizzard gamers are not smugly “entitled.” Nor are they toxic, and they most certainly are not made about a mobile version of Diablo because they hates the wemyzn (the craziest blue-check theory I’ve seen so far).
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) November 4, 2018
This isn’t a toxic gamer issue, it’s not an entitlement issue. It’s just bad PR handling and …a bad culture on the part of Blizzard I’m sad to say. It’s a culture that says “we know better” and fits right in with “you think you don, but you don’t.”
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) November 4, 2018
The Middle Ground
Despite the backlash, those who did get the chance to play it have stated that Diablo: Immortal is either good or isn’t as bad as many have feared. One of the most common critics has been the problems of playing it on a touch screen or that most of the core gameplay has been lost in the transition to mobile. However since the game is in development, these problems can be fixed before launch. Here some Tweets from those who have played it:
Unfortunately i remain of the opinion that diablo inmortal is not the game core fans wanted or asked for. Even after seeing gameplay it seems to he a sub par game. It wont be as bad as i feared. But far below expectations and hopes.
People got a little TOO mad tho imho.
— Boogie2988 (@Boogie2988) November 4, 2018
I tried Diablo Immortal and it isn’t nearly as bad as it’s being made out to be.
With that said, if you aren’t a fan of touch controls, I’m afraid this may not be for you. https://t.co/ecG3MmVLWA
— Ozzie Mejia @ #BlizzCon2018 (@Ozz_Mejia) November 3, 2018
Shame, I would’ve been down for some sort of experimental or innovative Diablo phone game but Diablo Immortal sounds like a real snore https://t.co/jsX9lTo8xo
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) November 3, 2018
Fans who were hopping for news regarding Diablo 4 or an HD remake should wait and give Immortal a chance. At the same time they could actually help the development team by giving their feedback while also speaking up against predatory microtransactions.
The Unacceptable Threats
Given the controversy of the announcement, Blizzard employees along with industry insiders who have defended the game have been the receiving so many death threats that they’ve had to make their Twitter account private. Will Powers has noted that several trolls have threatened to kill his dog while one person has been harassing the social media accounts of his employer. Even if the statement is a really bad one, responding with threats of violence and rape is not acceptable.
It’s ok to be upset but under no circumstance is it acceptable to threaten anyone with harm for having a different opinion. It adds nothing to the argument you’re making and creates an unnecessary atmosphere of fear.
What are your thoughts on Diablo: Immortal? Do you think it might add value to the lore or offer a new experience? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and please keep it civilized.