Activision Blizzard's stock prices fell yesterday following this weekend's BlizzCon 2018 event which can be best described as a marketing disaster, at least in the short term. After confirming that multiple Diablo projects are in development and teasing an announcement, they revealed Diablo Immortal, a mobile game that attendees and long-time Diablo fans weren't looking for.
Hopes were high for a Diablo 4 reveal instead, despite Blizzard (and us) warning fans that this wouldn't happen at BlizzCon this year. The internet being what it is, we now have countless memes and clips of the awkward keynote presentation and Q&A dominating Reddit, social media, and Blizzard's on social media accounts. See for yourself here.
The negativity is extreme, if exaggerated, and it's all around bad for the brand. It's something that will be tied to Blizzard forever, the same way online passes and loot boxes are to Electronic Arts.
In the first hours over 100 thousand dislikes vanished from one of the Diablo Immortal trailers, and while that could be Google/YouTube accounting for bots as some suggest, reports indicate comments were being deleted too. It gets really awkward because online, devs and community managers cannot and are not speaking on the topic due to the toxicity level. Not a post can live on the Diablo or Blizzard Twitter or Facebook pages at the moment without attacks related to Immortal.
In an effort to reduce potential backlash and comments (especially on Facebook where users can directly comment on the image) that last night they reverted the social media profile avatars back from Diablo Immortal to Diablo 3.
Screen Rant's games team shared their thoughts earlier on the Diablo Immortal reveal at BlizzCon 2018, how it could (read: should) have been handled better and how some of the reactions certainly cross a line. Still, fans who pay have a right to voice their displeasure and consumers absolutely should be the voice to enact change. It's the only reason Xbox One went from the awful product it was first announced as in 2013 to a console that's in the best position for the next generation of gaming platforms.
Blizzard perhaps should not have teased the community in the way they did and they could have shared the same Diablo Immortal announcement had they just prefaced it differently. Or, just go ahead and announce that long-term, there will be a Diablo 4 (it was reportedly going to be announced at BlizzCon 2018 at one point). Fans are willing to wait and there's something to be said about transparency, especially in this case when everyone is talking about the obvious.
Now that Diablo Immortal is a reality for Android, iPhones, and iPads, more information needs to be revealed. There's no release date yet for the mobile game, but the larger concern comes from the title being farmed out to Chinese developer NetEase who has a history of predatory and anti-consumer monetization practices in their past mobile games.
Hiding social media icons doesn't address that.