The backlash that followed the 2018 announcement of Diablo Immortal—a mobile game—was truly furious, beyond even what Blizzard expected (opens in new tab). Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham tried to put a positive spin on it, saying the reaction merely reflected the "passion" that fans feel for the games, but complaints like "they just spit in our faces (opens in new tab)" speak for themselves pretty well.
However you want to look at it, it doesn't sound like Blizzard, or its parent company Activision, are planning on rethinking their mobile strategies. In fact, Activision Blizzard CFO Dennis Durkin said during the Q&A section of today's quarterly financial call that the success of Call of Duty Mobile, released in October 2019, is proof that Activision is on the right track with its mobile strategy.
"There's a lot more to come on mobile too. CoD Mobile is off to a really great start, but we're just scratching the surface of what that franchise can be on mobile, and then integrating the experiences across multiple platforms, we know is just an incredible opportunity for the franchise," Durkin said in response to a question about how Diablo Immortal might be impacted by CoD Mobile.
"But to the early successes [of Call of Duty: Mobile], they do represent incredible proof points as to your question of how the franchise strategy is really working. And it certainly applies to a lot of other franchises that we have. We see that our current players really want more ways to engage with their favorite IP, be it through mobile or other platforms, and that offering authentic and really deep experiences on new platforms can drive much much higher engagement. And this quarter's results really shows that."
The addition of free-to-play games on mobile and other platforms is not "cannibalistic," Durkin noted: "Free to play coexists with other business models and can be meaningfully additive to a franchise."
"So these proof points are relevant across our portfolio," he said. "And to your question, it's not just Diablo, but it's also across all our franchises, and our teams see an opportunity to drive a greater reach, engagement, and player investment, greater than ever before, across our franchises."
Activision said that Blizzard plans to expand its internal testing of Diablo Immortal with a company-wide playtest in the coming weeks. There's still no sign of a release date, however.