Ignore All Complaints, Rake In Money

It’s been three weeks since the launch of Diablo Immortal, the new mobile version of the game that marries a surprisingly effective portable Diablo experience to one of the worst monetization systems in the entire industry.

Usually when a game debuts with this much fan pushback and flaming, there’s a little dance we all do. The game pushes everyone’s limits, players complain, the press reports on it, the developer says “we’re listening” and walks some of the worst stuff back, but not all the way. Repeat this process until some sort of middleground is reached.

Blizzard, with Diablo Immortal, has done exactly none of that.

The silence surrounding Diablo Immortal since release is just… eerie. Following any of the developers or the game ‘social accounts or the forums and there’s just… nothing at all about any of this. It’s like this massive ball of anger doesn’t even exist. Outside of director Wyatt Cheng tweeting a few times a few weeks ago arguing that the game doesn’t “sell gear” because powerful legendries gems are not “gear,” there have been no further conversations, no apologies, and no changes to the game itself toning down any of its extraordinarily aggressive monetization.

Blizzard’s position appears to be that they truly, truly do not really care what angry, long term fans think about Diablo Immortal. If the monetization makes you mad? The game isn’t for you, and you can wait until Diablo 4, but they’re not changing anything. This is the way mobile games, especially in Asia, makes literal tons of cash by encouraging gambling trends and offering paths to pay hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for power. So they’re going to do it too.

And it’s working, so far, both in the US and abroad where Diablo Immortal is likely already approaching $ 30 million in revenue by last estimates, if it hasn’t surpassed that already, with the biggest chunk of that from the US, not Asia. Diablo Immortal’s biggest concern right now does not appear to be responding to fan anger about the franchise, but getting the game released in China, where some sort of unknown issue has caused an indefinite delay, and there may be some need to placate the government there . Arguing with or apologizing to fans doesn’t generate revenue, but launching your game full of pay-to-win loot boxes in China? That generates lots of revenue. And so, here we are.

If this sounds cynical it’s because well, it is. Blizzard, with its reputation already at an all-time low, does not seem to feel the need to even bother trying to argue with fans about Diablo Immortal so it’s just going to wring all the money out of it that it can, wherever it can . The idea is that fans who are mad now will still return for Diablo 4, which I mean is probably true.

It’s a weird situation. I’m just so used to almost all developers embracing feedback and criticism and having open conversations with their playerbase to facilitate changes that work for everyone that seeing Blizzard just slam the door entirely and be content with earning money with zero changes to the controversial system is so brazen it’s surprising. It’s working, for now, but I’m wondering what the longer term consequences of this might be.

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