Diablo Immortal exists because 'China really wants it', says Blizzard dev
“The reaction inside the company to Immortal is very different than the reaction outside the company. Part of the thinking on a lot of these is, people want to work on smaller projects. Smaller projects in mobile tend to make sense.”
- An anonymous developer at Blizzard Entertainment discussing Diablo Immortal.
Kotaku recently published a piece examining the history of Blizzard Entertainment's Diablo franchise, which recently came under fire after the announcement of Diablo Immortal, a mobile game being developed in tandem with China-based studio NetEase.
Players were confused as to why the company chose to reveal Diablo Immortal as opposed to Diablo IV during this past BlizzCon. If Diablo IV supposedly exists and is currently under development, why is Blizzard choosing to keep silent about its progress?
“In terms of unannounced games, so much can change over the course of development based on how we’re feeling about the progress and direction of the project,” Blizzard explained.
“We try not to share details about unannounced projects before we’re ready. Our preference is to have a clear announcement plan with some concrete details and hopefully a playable demo of the game when we announce. That applies to our Diablo projects and our other games as well.”
A current Blizzard employee echoes the statement above, explaining how a majority of the Diablo team is (understandably) a little paranoid about announcing things too soon. "The Diablo team is very paranoid about saying something too soon and then getting stuck in a loop. They don’t want to show the game until they have a trailer, a demo.”
With a lack of Diablo IV news, attention shifted toward its mobile counterpart. The game is partially being developed by NetEase and a small group of Blizzard employees working under the company's new "incubation" department.
The incubation department was created to help cultivate new creative projects for the company, with many veteran developers moving there to work on smaller games-- and in this case, smaller meant mobile.
It made sense for Blizzard to collaborate with NetEase after their partnership to bring Diablo III as a free-to-play game in China, where it was very successful.
“Essentially it exists because we’ve heard that China really wants it,” revealed a current developer. “It is really for China."
"The quality bar in the Chinese market, especially for framerate, is extremely low,” said another anonymous dev. “You can release something that’d be considered alpha footage here and it’d be a finished game there.”
In a statement, Blizzard said that Diablo Immortal had been developed for both Western and Eastern markets but was vague on whether the game was originally planned to launch in China first.
“One of our core values is ‘think globally’ and our history has shown that we strive to make our games in as many languages as possible so more players can enjoy them,” a spokesperson said. “With that in mind, we quickly knew that we wanted to bring Diablo Immortal to the global audience.”
Be sure to read the entire piece over at Kotaku, which dives into more detail around how Blizzard's canceled projects affected current projects. It's well worth it.