Diablo Immortal has set the internet on fire with controversy. Every gaming website under the sun has an idea about how the microtransactions ruin the gameplay and how Blizzard was ruining fans’ cherished childhood memories diablo† The game currently holds the lowest user score on Metacritic† Even more Diablo fans feel like this just isn’t a game for them. And maybe they are right. Despite its mobile origin, Immortal grew wax wings and flew too close to the PC gaming sun. To a loyal audience that Blizzard had indulged in for years, that was considered unforgivable.
I get it. The monetization criticisms make sense, but the prospect of overspending isn’t always the real reason console gamers are so upset. The truth is simpler: mobile represents another front in the never-ending culture war for the heart and soul of gaming. But I have to wonder if it should be a war at all.
Before Immortal was announced, diablo fans could safely ignore mobile games as “cash grabs” that would never affect the premium games they wanted to play. But ever since Blizzard announced that the game would have a full diablo experience, these gamers have felt threatened by what they see as the mobile detriment of “legitimate” gaming. In fact, the game raised so many concerns that Blizzard’s community manager had to clarify That Diablo IV would not have “mobile style monetization”.
But it wasn’t enough for Blizzard to make promises to the fans. The press was also expected to be in line with “Immortal is bad.” On June 4, there was an incendiary tweet from a Twitch streamer criticizing journalists for saying that Diablo Immortal is… well, nice. I was not surprised, as I faced similar public animosity when I started writing about Genshin impact† If a journalist is “too positive” about a mobile game, a very vocal segment of gamers will dismiss it as a traitor to gaming and a business shill† For these players, the rise of F2P gaming is a virus that must be eradicated. Especially before the gaming in general “takes over”.
Despite all the background noise (or maybe because of it), I felt compelled to download Diablo Immortal and play a little. For context: I’ve never seen a . played diablo play earlier Immortal† The setting seemed too exaggerated for my taste, and I wasn’t sure how to process the knowledge from three games earlier Diablo IV came out. With so many games being released all the time, I’ve made peace with diablo one of those series that I would just never get into.
Diablo Immortal held my hand during the excruciating experience of being 25 years late in a widely loved franchise. The equipment interface told me which gear had the best stats and the footprints told me exactly where to go. The quests were structured in such a way that it was easy for me to stop playing and pick up the game again later. best of all, Immortal didn’t overwhelm me like I was a diablo fan. All the stories were completely self-contained and the world felt less intimidating about them. Immortal that’s how i learned to love diablo†
Like, I get it now. The villains may be monstrous demons from hell, but their designs are killer. The voice acting is fantastic and I got attached to the side characters I met along the way. I always had the impression that diablo is an edgelord game but Immortal is full of heart. Every character in the game was willing to make steep personal sacrifices because they wanted to fight against the suffering hell inflicted on innocent people. What’s not to love about that?
All of these factors probably played a large role in why Diablo Immortal has 10 million downloads despite a 0.2 user rating on Metacritic. There is a huge gap between the internet commentators who see themselves as the patrons of gaming and the actual audience that likes to play diablo like an F2P game. I’m not here to tell anyone to enjoy Diablo Immortal† I have friends who can’t match their brains on the live service loop, just like my brains bounce on certain types of puzzles.
Part of this problem is compounded by the way Blizzard has marketed the game. To cover for Diablo IV the studio needs more time in development and has announced that: Diablo Immortal is a “full-fledged” diablo experience on mobile.” They quickly learned that this may have been a big mistake†
I almost didn’t write this blog until I was at least level 60. I’d seen the backlash my colleagues got for writing about the game “too early,” and I wanted to avoid that fate. But I had such a relaxing time in ImmortalI just didn’t feel like rushing the content to prove myself diablo fans. Then I started thinking, maybe there’s something fundamentally broken about the way PC and console games are consumed.
In a PC or console game, the expectation is that you can sink a ton of hours into a game very quickly to become a divine merchant of death. That’s not the way to play a mobile game. Feels like any content time-bound or locked behind very low drop ratesit is because you are expected to play this game for year, not in the quick bursts between now and the next big AAA release. That means that the “wins” should also be less frequent. It took me almost a year to build a team good enough to delete an important event in Arknights† I couldn’t imagine telling a “traditional” gamer that they would have to grind for a year to erase important content.
Of course, the gambling factor is a legitimate concern. Diablo Immortal will not release in the Netherlands or Belgium because of their gambling regulations. Despite what haters might think about my Genshin blogs, I think federal governments should put restrictions on F2P games. At the very least, I don’t believe that children should be able to swipe credit cards in microtransactions. But the problem is, most critics of F2P games don’t really understand the community or the motivations of mobile players. Console gamers are often rightfully upset about the ignorant game discussions in the national media, but even game outlets don’t adhere to the same standards of nuance when it comes to mobile games. I’ve seen too many cases where mobile gamers have been reviled as “casual.” Considering almost all the furious reactions to Immortal Based on a vociferous defense of those prone to exploitation through in-game spending, where’s the empathy for the people that mobile critics care about?
There should definitely be a lot of discussion about the more predatory aspects of mobile gaming. But this cannot take place entirely from the perspective of a die-hard group of lifelong diablo fans are upset that their favorite franchise has reached a different audience. Ten million people downloaded the game because they wanted to, and while protecting the most vulnerable among their number is an admirable goal, it may not always be the real reason for the protest.
Immortal facing backlash for the same reasons that: the western public reacted so strongly to Genshin impact† It has a PC port and is high quality enough to disguise its mobile-first approach. But that doesn’t change the fact that these games are made for a very different gamer in mind. So PC and console players don’t have to feel threatened by Immortal† Blizzard is fishing for a much bigger fish – the mobile community that already represents the gaming majority†