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‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

MMO | Diablo Immortal Hands-on
Blizzard Entertainment

Blizzard unveiled Diablo Immortal at Blizzcon 2018, an upcoming mobile game that acts as a prequel to Diablo II and Diablo III — and it was clear this wasn’t what the player base wanted. The announcement was met with an overwhelming backlash. The response was so negative, in fact, that Blizzard admitted it did not expect the reception to the new game to be so bad.

Though Blizzard released a statement prior to the annual convention hinting that any announcements scheduled for BlizzCon 2018 would not be Diablo IV, players still wanted a new Diablo game for PC. And while the amount of hatred being directed at Blizzard is inexcusable, it’s not hard to see why a fanbase established primarily on PC and consoles would be upset about a mobile game.

In our interview with Dan Elggren and Allen Adham, Adham made it clear that Blizzard has more mobile games planned. Concerned players have expressed their discontentment with mobile games due to their reputation for wonky touchscreen controls and gameplay that pushes microtransactions at every turn.

Barbarian | Diablo Immortal Hands-on Review
Blizzard Entertainment

Those issues certainly exist in many mobile games but they are not isolated problems for mobile. With bugs, half-baked design, and microtransactions rampant on console games as well — many of which you still have to pay full price for – it’s clear that these issues are here to stay for now. For better or worse, gamers on all platforms seem to be putting up with these problems.

Follow the money, follow the gamers

According to a report by newzoo, mobile revenue makes up more than 50 percent of the global games market. While China and Japan contribute heavily to that result, the United States is the second largest market for mobile games. We’re already playing mobile games, and we’re doing a lot of it. Those numbers are expected to climb over the next few years with forecasts predicting an annual growth rate of at least 10 percent into 2021.

Why not target the device that’s on your person nearly 24 hours a day?

Developers like Blizzard are aware of the numbers. They understand that a mobile phone is the easiest way to reach the largest amount of people. 77 percent of Americans own a smartphone, so why not target the device that is on your person nearly 24 hours a day? Companies such as Samsung, Apple, and Razer have all noticed which way the wind is blowing.

During its 2018 iPhone keynote, Apple highlighted its latest A12 chip, and said it was made for high-end gaming. The company underscored that with exclusive gameplay from an upcoming Bethesda mobile game, The Elder Scrolls: Blades. Razer, a gaming hardware company known for high-end gaming laptops and accessories, has released a smartphone specifically for mobile gaming alongside the slogan, “If it’s not 120Hz, it’s not a gaming phone.” Samsung even partnered with Epic Games for the Galaxy Note9 and Tab S4 releases, offering up an exclusive Fortnite skin to players that purchased the devices.

Even Nintendo entered into the business in 2016 with Miitomo, followed up by Super Mario Run, Fire Emblem Heroes, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp, and Dragalia Lost, with the latter three games having tremendous success. And it appears that Nintendo has no intention of slowing down. The company just announced Mario Kart Tour, a mobile game to the Mario Kart series, for March 2019.

Epic Games, meanwhile, released Fortnite on both Android and iOS this year. It was such as success that the mobile game alone earned 25 million in its first month — and that’s before it was available on Android. Square Enix also brought Final Fantasy XV to mobile with its Pocket Edition, which was well-received … and in some cases, favored more than the original.

 With mobile gaming in the picture, everyone wins

If the Diablo Immortal announcement is anything to go by, it’s clear that there’s a core group of gamers out there that aren’t sold on the idea just yet. Still, these gamers should take some comfort in the knowledge that expanding a game franchise to mobile is often a boon for its popularity.

You’ll share the love you have for games with more people because access won’t be limited

Mobile games offer access to everyone. It’s an entry point for people that have never owned a dedicated gaming device, and soon, you’ll be able to share the love you have for those games with more people because access won’t be limited to those with the time and money to play.

Maybe the backlash over Diablo Immortal was warranted to a degree, but with confirmation that Diablo IV is still in the works, and PC and console gaming still a core staple in gaming, there’s no reason to a blow a fuse over the industry’s focus on mobile. It only means more people can enjoy video games, and developers get to keep making them. That’s a cause everyone should get behind.

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Felicia Miranda
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Born in '89 and raised through the 90s, I experienced what I consider to be the golden age of video games. At an early age, I…
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