It's impossible to ignore mobile these days, and Blizzard is diving in with aplomb. Fret not: they have many development teams and they're not all dedicated to mobile.
Last week’s announcement of Diablo Immortal for mobile is only the start of Blizzard’s new approach to mobile gaming.
Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham has promised there’s more to come in regards to mobile from the company. Speaking at Blizzcon last week, Adham said some of these games will be made with external partners like with Chinese company NetEase, who are working on Immortal.
“Many of us over the last few years have shifted from playing primarily desktop to playing many hours on mobile, and we have many of our best developers now working on new mobile titles across all of our IP,” he said in the video (via USGamer). “Some of them are with external partners like Diablo Immortal. Many of them are being developed internally only, and we'll have information to share on those in the future,”
For anyone looking forward to a true Diablo IV, this likely isn’t music to your ears. While it’s a given that the game is in development (going by reports and what was heard during the show by our managing editor Amanda Farough) - in fact, Adham made sure to point out there was several projects in the series in the works for that set of fans (“For our diehard PC fans, we will say though, we still have multiple Diablo teams working on multiple unannounced Diablo projects. So we haven't forgotten about them.”) - this won’t assuage fears that Blizzard is moving away from its ‘core audience' to mobile players.
But considering the mobile market in NetEase’s home country of China, Blizzard has made a smart and strategic decision, and the two companies have history together already considering its previous efforts to bring its games to China, particularly World of Warcraft. But as already pointed out, the money made by mobile gaming (especially in China) is kind of bonkers.
Analyst firm Newzoo said the Chinese gaming market is worth $37.9 billion with a large portion of players in the country (76 percent of which are men and 66 percent being women) playing mobile titles. And globally, $70 billion of the worldwide market value of the industry this year of $137.9 billion - roughly half of the market - comes from mobile.
If you’re part of that hardcore group of series fans, you may not like the decision that Blizzard has made and you may not like how Blizzard ended its BlizzCon keynote with the announcement, but given the changing climate of the market, the Blizzard can no longer ignore the mobile sector.
That’s not to say Blizzard was tone deaf to the reaction given last week. Last night, during Activision Blizzard’s latest financial results for Q3 2018 and in his first call since taking over from co-founder Mike Morhaime as CEO, new boss J Allen Brack promised “a very authentic Diablo experience” that’d also help bring in a new audience, but said the company had “seen some interesting reactions” in light of Immortal’s reveal (via PC Gamer).
“I think that it's clear that there's a lot of players who are eager for more Diablo PC and console content. I think that came through loud and clear from BlizzCon. Frankly we feel fortunate to have a community that cares so much about that franchise."
He added: “Taking a game like Diablo onto that platform in a way that is really reflecting our quality standards, it can open that franchise and other franchises to a global audience, including people who don't have PCs, or especially in China, where Blizzard is a very, very strong Western brand.”