Blizzard faces huge backlash for Diablo mobile game, fans call it a 'slap in the face'

Blizzard is facing severe backlash following the reveal of its massively multiplayer Diablo Immortal mobile game at Blizzcon yesterday, with fans calling the announcement a "slap in the face." Most of the anger stems from Blizzard stating in August that it had "multiple Diablo projects in the works," fuelling speculation that it would announce Diablo 4, or a Diablo remaster, at Blizzcon. It later clarified that it wouldn't "be ready to announce all of our projects," but many players still believe that building all that hype and then unveiling a mobile game is "disrespectful"—especially to those that paid to attend.

The game's cinematic trailer, above, has received more than 200,000 dislikes, compared to just 7,000 likes. The top comment, which user RedPill Shark claims has been deleted eight times, says: "'No King Rules Forever My Son.' I have played your games for the last 20+ years and will never forget my first encounter with Thrall... Goodbye. You have changed old friend."

The two most upvoted posts on the Diablo subreddit call the mobile game "worse than nothing," "a slap in the face," and accuse Blizzard of "spit[ting] in the faces" of the community.

Another posts points out how uncomfortable the silence was at Blizzcon following the reveal, and a clip from a Q&A at the event in which a fan asks if the announcement was "an out of season April Fools' joke" has gained traction on social media.

The fan who asked the question later posted on Reddit as user Dontinquire (h/t Eurogamer), saying he felt "terrible" for Diablo principle designer Wyatt Cheng, who had to field the comment on stage. "I think he does an excellent job. The issue is that in a large organization, every team member represents the business," Dontinquire said. 

"I don't want to humiliate any individual developers. I'm a hardcore Blizzard fan for over 20 years. I was just so incredibly disappointed by the way Diablo fans have been treated on all fronts. This game should be cancelled and Blizzard should be ashamed of it."

Fans have also claimed the game is a reskin of Crusaders of Light, another game by NetEase, which is partnering with Blizzard on the development of Diablo Immortal. You can see some similarities between the interfaces in the clip below.

Blizzard has responded to this accusation. Speaking to IGN, Cheng said: “We’ve been working with NetEase Games from the beginning as a partnership to create everything in Diablo Immortal. We have artists on our side, they have artists on their side, and we work together as a team, as a partnership to create everything about Diablo Immortal. The environments, the characters, the skills, the story.”

Cheng also addressed more general criticism of the reveal, saying: “I don’t think mobile should be a dirty word."

"When it came to looking at making a new Diablo game, and this opportunity to partner with NetEase to make this—the technology is there, where our mobile phones are more powerful than ever, and they’re capable of top tier gaming experiences," he said.

Samuel Horti

Samuel Horti is a long-time freelance writer for PC Gamer based in the UK, who loves RPGs and making long lists of games he'll never have time to play.