How different would the BlizzCon reaction have been had we seen that Diablo 4 announcement?
Diablo Immortal, Blizzard's foray into mobile action RPGs was supposed to have a safety net at BlizzCon. Unfortunately, Diablo 4 just wasn't ready, leaving the mobile game and its developers at the mercy of angry gamers hoping for more. The Diablo Immortal announcement was messy. It ruffled a lot of feathers, even among the most devoted Blizzard fans.
Blizzard founder Allen Adham remained steady during his conversation with GameDaily when we chatted about the absent Diablo 4 announcement. While I personally lamented a lack of core Diablo news as we were gearing up for a longer conversation, Adham was empathetic.
Adham knows how passionate Blizzard's players are, especially the ones that attend BlizzCon year after year. When the BlizzCon opening ceremony wrapped with a mobile game, instead of a core game like Warcraft 3 Reforged (or Diablo 4), those core fans were "letting us know what they want us to be working on. Loudly."
But Adham doesn't begrudge the fans, no matter how loudly they shout their anger. Instead, his focus is on educating those core fans and reminding them of how frustrated they were with Hearthstone back in the day. These days, Hearthstone has cracked 100 million players. And with a potential tournament payout of a quarter-million dollars, it's no slouch in esports, either.
"Hearthstone was met with same sort of skepticism, and a little bit of confusion," Adham noted. "And I think we've proven over time to that audience, to our audience, that Hearthstone is an authentic Blizzard game, in a different way than our other games. And this comes up over and over. We have a long history of sort of innovating in new genres, if you look back to our early days, from racing games and puzzles games, and the adventure platformers, and then fighting games, and then strategy games and action RPGs.
"We don't sit still, so we're always trying new and interesting things, and so this is just another one in a long line. For almost three decades, the skeptics have eventually come around to loving the new thing we try, and we think this is just another one of a long line of us doing cool new interesting things that maybe are a little unexpected at first."
Regardless, Adham and the Diablo team "tried" to bring that Diablo 4 announcement to BlizzCon, but that's not how things shook out. Blizzard remains mum on the reasoning behind why that was, but based on the BlizzCon pattern of announcing during the opening ceremony and allowing for a playable vertical slice on the second day of the con… it's highly likely that the demo wasn't ready.
Everything announced at this year's BlizzCon was playable on the floor during the second day, including Warcraft 3 Reforged and World of Warcraft's Classic servers. During BlizzCon 2015, Blizzard announced that it was stepping into the crowded shooter landscape with Overwatch, effectively broadening its horizons. And, as per Blizzard's usual pattern, 12 Overwatch heroes (of the 21 available at launch) were ready to play on the floor during the second day of the convention. While there's no way to know for sure if a delay in a demo build was the reason Diablo 4 was ultimately absent from this year's BlizzCon, looking at Blizzard's patterns... it certainly makes that a possible explanation.
With Adham's confirmation, we know that Diablo 4 isn't going to be out of sight for much longer. After the Diablo Immortal fracas blows over, hopefully fans will remember what Blizzard told them in that fated pre-BlizzCon blog post.
"'Good things come to those who wait,' but evil things often take longer."