If you spent any time on the Internet this past weekend, odds are you found at least one message board, YouTube video, or blog post criticizing Blizzard for the Diablo Immortal announcement. The game has attracted the ire of just about every fan of the dungeon crawling, loot-centric franchise, as well as the producer of Diablo 2, Mark Kern. He took to Twitter to criticize Blizzard’s handling of the Diablo Immortal fiasco, and boy oh boy does he have a lot to say.
“Blizzard gamers are not smugly ‘entitled,'” begins Kern’s series of posts. “Nor are they toxic, and they most certainly are not made about a mobile version of Diablo because they hates the wemyzn (the craziest blue-check theory I’ve seen so far). Since I was producer of Diablo 2, a lot of people have been asking for my thoughts on the whole “Diablo Immortal” fiasco. I hate to say it, but what you are seeing is Blizzard not understanding gamers anymore.”
Kern isn’t completely negative though. He thinks the concept of a mobile version of Diablo is a good idea. In fact, he wants one, but he believes Blizzard went about the announcement the wrong way. He is surprised management didn’t (or couldn’t) predict the criticisms.
“But what is really telling is that this *surprised* them,” continues Kern. “They were expecting backlash, but they didn’t have a plan for it. They didn’t predict the wave. Any Diablo gamer could have simply TOLD you what would happen if you asked.”
Kern claims Blizzard could have mitigated at least some of the backlash had the company premiered a teaser for another of its Diablo projects alongside Diablo Immortal. However, he also believes this fiasco is the result of Blizzard losing touch with its core audience, and he boldly claims the Blizzard he used to work for would never have made this kind of faux pas. As Kern puts it, “[Blizzard] was made up of hard core gamers from top to bottom. We used to say we were our own harshest audience for our games. I would have had a line of devs outside my door telling me this was a bad move.”
However, Kern isn’t just blaming Blizzard. He also points accusing fingers at “mainstream game journalists” who “ARE blaming gamers,” as well as “know-nothing devs in mobile and indie.” Kern ends his Twitter tirade with the following statement, “Be prepared to lose a lot of customers and money. Because it’s never right to blame your customers for your own PR blunders and learn nothing.”
Even if Diablo Immortal turns out to be a good game, its reputation is eternally tarnished by this PR nightmare that might as well have been hand-crafted by the Lord of Terror himself. We will just have to wait and see if Blizzard can ever recover from this not-so-little blunder.