Diablo Immortal: From Booed to Beloved

black and white skull imageDiablo Immortal is a game that evoked a wide range of emotional responses – right from the start. When it was first announced, at BlizzCon 2018, the crowd viewed the game in a very negative way. Over time, people changed their mind about the game and many are looking forward to its official launch on June 2, 2022. 

How did Diablo Immortal go from booed to beloved? To fully understand what changed, you need a little bit of history. At the time, the Diablo community was extremely hopeful that the event would include the announcement of Diablo IV. Rumors started spreading about what what else might be announced.

On October 17, 2018, preceding BlizzCon, Blizzard wrote a post titled “Diablo at Blizzcon 2018”. It stated: “BlizzCon 2018 is almost here and we’ve seen a lot of rumors flying around about our plans for the show.” It continued, “We know what many of you are hoping for and we can only say that ‘good things come to those who wait,’ but evil things often take longer.”

The first Diablo panel was immediately after the opening of BlizzCon 2018. The focus was on a brand new game – Diablo Immortal. There was video of gameplay and a cinematic. Wyatt Cheng was the person who described where Diablo Immortal fits within the Diablo series of games.

A Q&A followed. The most significant part was a question by Lord Fluffy, who asked if there were any plans to make Diablo Immortal playable on PC – or will it be strictly mobile forever. Wyatt Chang responded, “The current plan is to be on mobile, both android and iOS. We don’t have any plans at the moment to do PC.”

That’s when the booing started.

I remember doing a ConBeforeThe Storm podcast with a mixed group of people (each focused on a specific Blizzard game) to talk about what was released. In short, as one of the Diablo-focused people on the podcast, I had to explain why PC players were so upset. They only played on PC, and the majority of them had no interest in mobile gaming. My impression was that this group was feeling very left out.

There was a Technical Alpha of the game in 2020, the Diablo Immortal Closed Alpha was announced in April of 2021. It was for Android – only, and included players from South Korea and Japan, and a few members of the Diablo community. It introduced the Crusader class, new zones and dungeons, and more.

This was the turning point where (at least some) of the disgruntled PC players started to change their mind about Diablo Immortal. The game had evolved into a robust world that felt like a Diablo game. Interest in the mobile game was rising, but there were still some PC players that didn’t want to play it on mobile.

All of this changed on April 25, 2022. There was an announcement video on YouTube about Diablo Immortal. I was among those sitting in the chat before the announcement started, watching people excitedly ask each other what class they were going to play. There was a push to remove the chatters who were asking for the game to be on PC. 

The video started, and it was revealed that Diablo Immortal would not only be on mobile, but also playable on PC. This was completely unexpected, and a wonderful way to make the PC players to feel included. As a result, a sizable portion of the Diablo community is super excited about a game that (some of them) found undesirable when it was announced.

How Microsoft’s Acquisition Could Affect What Games Go On Xbox

Microsoft announced that they agreed to acquire Activision Blizzard King. This information was posted on Microsoft’s Xbox Wire website, with a banner showing significant characters from several of Blizzard’s games, one Call of Duty character, and an image from Candy Crush.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those games will come to Xbox. For example, Diablo II: Resurrected launched on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S. (In addition to PS5 | PS4, Nintendo Switch, and BattleNet.) I’ve been playing it on Xbox S. Diablo III is available on Xbox  One, and Xbox Series X|S, BattleNet or Nintendo Switch. Those games are currently on Xbox.

Diablo Immortal is an app game that is currently still in testing. When it launches, players can obtain it through the App Store or Google Play. As far as I can tell, Diablo Immortal is intended to be played on a phone or tablet, so I don’t see it coming to Xbox. 

Candy Crush also makes app games that are on the App Store or Google Play. The King website notified players that Candy Crush Saga will no longer be available on the website as of March 31, 2022. I suspect this means King wants to focus on apps. Hearthstone is available on Mac and PC and also on phones and tablets as an app. But, that doesn’t mean there will be a playable version on Xbox.

Overwatch can be played on a PC (but not on a Mac). It also is possible to play it on Xbox. Overwatch 2 has been mentioned, but appears to be on hold for now.

What about World of Warcraft? The official WoW website tells me that WoW is available on Mac (which is what I play on) or PC. There’s no mention of consoles at all. If you do a search for “World of Warcraft on Xbox” you will see a bunch of articles that are speculating about the possibility of it coming to Xbox. But, that does not confirm that this will happen.

Activision’s Call of Duty games are on Xbox – but not necessarily on every type of Xbox console. Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War is on Xbox X|S, and Xbox One. Call of Duty: Vanguard is on Xbox One, Xbox X|S. Other Call of Duty games are not on Xbox.

There has been some concern that Microsoft will decide to pull all Call of Duty games from Playstation to Xbox. CEO of Xbox Phil Spencer has quashed that rumor in a tweet in which he stated that he spoke with leaders at Sony, and expressed desire to keep Call of Duty on PlayStation. 

In short, some of Blizzard’s games are already on Xbox. Some of Activision’s games are. We will have to wait and see if older “backwards compatible” games from these companies end up on Xbox consoles.

Diablo Immortal, Diversity, and Disability

Diablo Immortal is currently in Closed Alpha. I was fortunate enough to have been given access to this wonderful, creepy, addition to the Diablo game series. There were two things that stood out immediately. This game includes more diversity in character options than previous games. It also provided me, a person with physical disabilities, with a game that feels very accessible.

This version of the Closed Alpha focuses on the newly added Crusader class. The classes that were released in the Technical Alpha are still an option, but it appears that many players picked the Crusader this time around.

In Diablo Immortal, players pick a class and can choose to be either male or female. They then can decide what their character will look like based on three options: Black, White, or Asian. Each version of the female Crusader has scars across their faces (some more subtle than others). These are battle-hardened women who have seen some things and lived to fight another day.

This is noteworthy because it is the only video game I have played where all versions of the female character for a specific class have scars. In general, female characters in video games are designed to be pretty, and often look younger than the male version of the same class.

The other cool thing is that the default option was Black. The Diablo Twitter account featured the female Black Crusader in a video shortly before the Closed Alpha started. I chose to play as the Crusader I saw in that video because, to me, and to the Diablo team, she is the Crusader.

In Diablo III, players also have the option of playing a male or female character for whatever class they pick. There is only one race option per class. Crusaders in Diablo III are White; Wizards are Asian; Witch Doctors have dark skin, and a quick internet search reveals discussions about whether or not that class its portrayed in a racist way. Diablo Immortal provides an improvement by giving three customization options for each class.

Another great thing about Diablo Immortal is that it is very accessible. It is a mobile game, which gives players more options about how and where they play. My disabilities include chronic illnesses that often cause pain and exhaustion. It would be possible for me to play Diablo Immortal while I’m lying down and waiting for my medications to kick in. Mobile games give me the ability to play without having my hands hurt when I’m done.

I’ve noticed that Diablo Immortal has short quest lines (at least at the start) which are easier for people like me to finish in one go. There doesn’t seem to be a penalty for pausing after failing to kill a boss in a dungeon. The game lets you take a break when you need to, and starts you where you left off.