Stock in Activision has taken a hit following the negative reaction to the recently announced mobile game, Diablo Immortal. Fans hoping for an official announcement of Diablo 4 were left disappointed when Blizzard unveiled plans at BlizzCon to develop a mobile game instead of the next installment in the main series.
Diablo is one of the most successful franchises in the hack and slash RPG genre, though there hasn't been a new installment since Diablo III, which launched in 2012. A port of Diablo III was released for the Nintendo Switch last week. For the past few years, the fanbase has been eagerly awaiting word that Diablo 4 is on the horizon, but unfortunately this doesn't seem to be case, as Blizzard's focus is currently on Diablo Immortal, a game for iOS and Android devices that centers on multiplayer gameplay. So far, the response has been overwhelmingly negative.
It appears that Diablo Immortal has had an impact on the company's stock. According to Barrons, stock in Activision Blizzard dropped by almost 7 percent and closed at $64.34 on Monday, which is a significant change from Sunday's market value which was $68.99. Research film Cowen & Company links the drop to the response to Diablo Immortal:
Blizzard announced its first mobile-only title on Friday and to say the reaction was negative would be an understatement. Blizzard severely miscalculated how their fans would respond, which suggests they aren’t in touch with their players as maybe they should be.
On YouTube, the reveal trailer for Diablo Immortal has 16,000 up votes and 430,000 down votes, which is a shockingly high number. Some are even accusing Blizzard of deleting negative comments from dissatisfied fans on their trailers. According to Diablo 2 producer Mark Kern, Blizzard handled the announcement poorly. By hyping up the fanbase, Blizzard had many expecting an announcement for a PC game. Instead, Blizzard let them down with Diablo Immortal. Kern says the reaction is the result of Blizzard "not understanding gamers anymore".
One of the reasons why the move into mobile gaming is seen as a problem is in-game microtransactions. The company that Blizzard is partnering with to make Diablo Immortal, NetEase, has a reputation for implementing pay-to-win mechanics in many of its games.
The less-than-desirable reception to Diablo Immortal calls into questions Blizzard's plans for more mobile games. Apparently, Blizzard wants to create mobile games as part of a new strategy for many of their biggest properties. Aside from Diablo, this includes Starcraft, Warcraft, and Overwatch. It remains to be seen if Blizzard will learn from the fiery response to Diablo Immortal and begin rethinking the future of these franchises.