One of the greatest qualities Blizzard had as a video game developer was extraordinary ability to tune into the needs of their fans and take a creative direction that will appeal to them, even before receiving their feedback. And even when there would be some space for corrections, Blizzard would always take their well-meant critiques into consideration and find the very best way to reconcile the desires of the fans and their own creative vision, thus almost always creating something special.
But now, it seems that arrogance had apparently settled amid the ranks of Blizzard management because they have been totally oblivious to the wishes of their primary audience – PC gamers – and the way they’ll react. Not only that they foolishly did that, but they’ve also been tampering with the dislikes and repeatedly deleting negative comments concerning Diablo Immortal, in the painfully obvious attempt to create the false image that fans are actually approving what they’re doing. Naturally, that caused an even greater backlash, which is something that even the best developers can afford, especially in the delicate moment when they’re obviously trying to branch out and expand into the mobile market.
Fans are still waiting a proper explanation from the Blizzard management. However, at least we got an interesting and insightful comment by a former Blizzard employee called Mark Kern. As any spymaster would tell you, the best information is insider information, and Kern during his time at Blizzard was Team Lead on World of Warcraft and, more importantly for this topic, producer for Diablo II. All of that makes him extremely qualified to share his views and adds a tremendous weight to his words. In an extensive Twitter thread, Kern had discussed at length everything that, in his opinion, is wrong with the current creative and publishing politics of his former company.
According to Kern, at the heart of the problem lies the fact that “Blizzard is not understanding gamers anymore.” In his opinion, it’s perfectly all right that Blizzard announced mobile-exclusive Diablo game at BlizzCon. However, since they’ve already previously hinted that they’ve been working on multiple Diablo-related projects, they’ve failed to honor PC audience who had been anxiously waiting for Diablo IV for at least several years. In other words, Blizzard “should have dropped a teaser for their PC based project alongside their mobile announcement” if they are really working on multiple Diablo projects and one of them is, in fact, Diablo IV.
Kern also recalled how things worked in his time: “Blizzard never used to have to ask, because it was made up of hardcore 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.” Kern admitted that he was hugely disappointed because of this whole incident with Diablo Immortal and Blizzard’s unfair and arrogant treatment of the fans, saying that his former colleagues have “bad culture” and that they’ve “lost touch with gamers” and “are now in some billion dollar a year ivory tower.”
In the end, Kern drops a couple of appropriately apocalyptic references on companies such as Nokia and Blockbuster Video, (which obviously don’t exist anymore), hinting that’s the ignoble destiny that awaits Blizzard if they don’t mend their ways in time and start listening to the wishes of the gamers again. Obviously, this isn’t the case of “sour grapes” and the man knows what he’s talking about 100%. Hopefully, Blizzard will take some of the things fans and Kern had been saying into the consideration and will be back right on the tracks of their former glory.
From Kern’s comments as well as all the things that fans said, it’s obvious what Blizzard needs to do if they want to make amends to the fans – simply start treating them with due respect again. They also must deliver all that they’ve explicitly promised or hinted so far – and that means truly new and original Diablo mobile game (no recycling of old content, artwork, and engines from other mobile games, Blizzard!) and that Diablo IV finally sees the light of day in some reasonable time.