Diablo was dark fantasy before dark fantasy was cool. And not only did the franchise bring to life one of the most brutal worlds under the belt of Blizzard Entertainment, but it also became the gold standard of the hack n’ slash dungeon crawl RPG genre. Each of Blizzard’s big three money-making franchises, Warcraft, Starcraft, and Diablo, have their own dedicated fanbases. So when Diablo fans traveled to the 2018 Blizzcon expecting a new expansion for Diablo III or the long-awaited announcement of Diabo IV, they were understandably disappointed when the big announcement turned out that Blizzard had sold the franchise’s soul to mobile gaming with Diablo Immortal.
Mobile gaming is a popular and growing platform for the growing audience of casual gamers. Diablo, however, has cultivated a community of hardcore gamers. They spent hours finding the right character builds, farming the right bosses for the right gear, and taking on harder challenges for great rewards. Of course, they were upset. But that’s not where it ends. This is just the beginning.
Turning a franchise into a mobile game is like turning Teen Titans into Teen Titans GO! You’re watching a beloved franchise get turned into a joke. In other words, Diablo had been the equivalent of fine dining until Blizzard turned it into fast food.
This move was so stupid that the Blizzard creative team was asked if this was an out of season April Fool’s joke. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
So how did Blizzard handle this immediate and vicious backlash spurned by their own idiocy? Did they apologize and take the complaints of the loyal fans who helped make them the successful company they are today?
Of course not…
Instead, they followed the protocol of what I have deemed the Social Justice business model. A.K.A. the “it’s not us, it’s them.”
Blizzard immediately went into damage control mode, starting with deleting negative comments left anywhere open to comments. (YouTube, Twitter, etc.)
Gaming outlets started blaming the toxic gamer community, and Blizzard started responding with the old: Don’t like, don’t buy.
Eventually Mark Kern, a former developer for World of Warcraft and producer of Diablo 2 chimed with some epic truth bombs.
This is an era where gamers, men, boys, and pretty much anything male dominated has come under relentless fire for being toxic and fueled by hate. So you have Marvel calling their loyal fans Nazis. You have gaming news sites calling their own audience man-babies and bullies. And now you have left-wingers calling Diablo fans entitled losers. It’s become common practice for big companies to publicly and actively insult their own fanbases in order to appease a new audience that will applaud their efforts – but never buy.