When I take a look at the recent controversy surrounding Blizzard’s Diablo: Immortal announcement and the fallout that followed – the phrase that immediately pops up in my mind is: crime doesn’t pay.
Of course, I’m not talking about a real crime – more like a professional crime. The crime of a developer becoming too out of touch with its fans – a.k.a. the people who put money in their pockets. This has become all too common a practice in an era where large companies tend to forget the customers who helped raise them to a lucrative level of success and begin pandering to people outside their realm of expertise. In a lot of cases, big companies can disregard the wants of their larger customers base or even demonize them, as what has happened to the Blizzard fanbase.
The second phrase that springs to mind when I take a look at this whole affair is: Get Woke Go Broke. A phrase that refers to big name franchises pushing far left-wing politics in hopes of proving how right and moral they are with big returns, only to be met with dismal failure. While the backlash Blizzard is facing isn’t concerning “getting woke,” the main reason is similar: they gave their audience something their audience hated.
Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Marvel comics, all cornerstones of entertainment in their genres. All of them represent the foundation of sci-fi or comics. But when they decided to start lecturing you on politics and social issues rather than tell a good story – not even these financial giants could make this nonsense work. Because the only people supporting these franchises being saturated with crazy political lectures are people obsessed with crazy politics and Hollywood celebrities riddled with guilt over the skeletons you know they have stashed away in their closets. (honestly, the louder a celebrity screeches against Trump, the more vile acts I assume they have to hide)
This is all about ego. Big names have been abandoning their established audiences to appeal to people who will like their tweets, but never buy their products. (just look at Marvels increased decline.) To put it plainly, the reason why getting “woke” makes you go broke and Blizzard’s Diablo: Immortal caused such a huge outrage is because in both cases, these companies produced products the company wanted and not what their customers wanted. I call this the “woke effect” – when companies stop caring about their audiences and start caring more about themselves.
So how did the Woke Effect hurt Blizzard?
Blizzard’s stock dropped about 7% on Nov 5 to Nov 6. In other words, the backlash against the game was so terrible that the company to a 3.7 Billion dollar hit in one day. Why? Because Blizzard, just like several big names before them, stopped caring about their audience and became too self-absorbed for their own good.
I think the lesson here is – if you create a successful company and want to keep it successful, keep your focus on your customers, and less on yourself. They are the foundation of your success.