What we learned from the disaster of Blizzcon 2018


Blizzard’s namesake conference has come and passed with much to talk about. Plenty of announcements were made and the reactions to the conference have been mixed to say the least. There were some very high highs, such as the new Overwatch content being released, the Overwatch World Cup being full of surprises, and Warcraft being remastered. However, there is one moment in particular that outshines all of the rest, and it was quite possibly one of the worst moves Blizzard has ever made.

The Diablo series is one that is steeped in tradition and controversy. Diablo III famously turned much of the fan base off of the game because of certain choices that were made to differentiate it from Diablo II and make it more modern. While ultimately proving to be a successful risk, as it helped to grow the fan base rather than keep it true and please the hardcore crowd. Divisive though it may be, it wasn’t nearly the controversy that this weekend produced. After years of waiting and rumors swirling about new games in development, the stage was set for a dramatic return from the Diablo series. However, what we got, instead, was a mobile game. Personally I am indifferent to the series generally, I played Diablo III with friends when it came out on PS3 but that is the extent of my experience with the game. Personally, I think the game idea seems cool, having a hardcore dungeon crawler accessible from anywhere is a pretty good idea, however, there were some major flaws with how the game was presented, and it falls into many of the traps we’ve seen major companies fall into recently.

The biggest mistake made here is not accompanying the mobile game with a bigger title. The gaming community doesn’t see a mobile game as enough of a draw to consider it a satisfying announcement. Mobile games need to be the cherry on top of an announcement, how it is first presented largely determines how it does at launch. Fallout Shelter was highly praised because it also came out along with Fallout 4. Metroid Prime Federation Force, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, and now this new Diablo game have all found it much harder to find stable footing in the market because the expectation of the game shifts from being a cherry on top to becoming the main attraction when there is no way a mobile game can meet the expectations of an entire community.

The rational person is not upset the game itself, they are upset with the idea that the company was not transparent enough to lower fans excitement. When rumors start and there is no official denial, it is seen as an admittance of truth from the gaming community. This raises expectations because the game then is assumed to not be a question of if it will be there, but how it will look. People start anticipating multiple steps ahead and get their excitement beyond what it should be, because they were working under an assumption. Blizzard didn’t do themselves any favors, however. Saving the announcement of a mobile game for last in a conference in 2018 feels like a setup, audiences are so used to having a “One more thing” moment that it is commonly talked about as an announcement in every press conference. At E3, journalists will ask what they think the “One more thing” moment will be. Having that setup with the consequences surrounding the Diablo series, with no payoff can be extremely upsetting. Often severely damaging a company’s reputation. Doing little to quell the speculation about whether or not a new game would show up severely hurt the conference as well. If audiences knew to expect less then there wouldn’t have been such a negative push back.

Overall as always the quality of the presentation in what was delivered was there. The new Overwatch cinematic was great, Heroes of the Storm got its first original character, and Warcraft III has been remastered. The biggest flaw in making this a successful presentation would have been working harder to be more transparent with what to expect. It is important to keep a certain element of surprise, but there also can’t be false hope given when there is no plans of a major announcement.

But, that’s just what I think though. Tell me what you think in the comments. Were you happy with the Blizzard conference? Are you going to give Diablo Immortal a chance? Let me know down below! And make sure to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more BYOG.

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