Update: In a new statement, Blizzard denied a report from Kotaku (opens in new tab) that it prepared and scrapped a Diablo 4 announcement ahead of Blizzcon. The full statement reads:
“First off we want to mention that we definitely hear our community. We generally don’t comment on rumors or speculation, but we can say that we didn’t pull any announcements from BlizzCon this year or have plans for other announcements. We do continue to have different teams working on multiple unannounced Diablo projects, and we look forward to announcing when the time is right.”
Kotaku has updated its story to reflect this statement. However, the site maintains that Diablo 4 is in the works and a teaser video featuring studio co-founder Allen Adham was filmed. The discrepancy is whether that video was ever intended for BlizzCon – and again, Blizzard says it wasn’t.
The opening ceremony for this year’s BlizzCon concluded with an announcement for Diablo Immortal, a new mobile-only Diablo set between the second and third games. However, according to two anonymous insiders who spoke to Kotaku (opens in new tab), Blizzard originally planned on closing with an announcement for Diablo 4, but cut it from the opening ceremony at the eleventh hour.
Blizzard’s original plan, Kotaku reports, was to show Diablo Immortal and follow it up with a video of Blizzard co-founder Allen Adham teasing Diablo 4. But according to one source, because Diablo 4 has changed dramatically in the past four years, the team decided it wasn’t ready to announce anything, so the video was removed from the BlizzCon proceedings as recently as October.
Diablo Immortal was the only Diablo announcement at BlizzCon, and to put it mildly, many fans have responded negatively. The game’s cinematic (opens in new tab) and gameplay trailers (opens in new tab) were besieged with dislikes on YouTube, and the Diablo subreddit is awash with high-upvote posts calling Immortal “a slap in the face” (opens in new tab) and accusing Blizzard of being “out of touch with their fans.” (opens in new tab) During a follow-up Q&A (opens in new tab) with members of Immortal’s development team, one BlizzCon attendee facetiously asked if the game was “an out-of-season April Fool’s joke.” Others have called Immortal a rehashed version of Crusaders of Light (opens in new tab), another mobile action-RPG by developer NetEase, Blizzard’s partner on Immortal.
The problem, as many see it, is that while Blizzard did advise fans in October (opens in new tab) to temper their expectations for Diablo at BlizzCon, the studio has also been teasing “multiple Diablo projects” for months. As a result, many Diablo fans were expecting something meatier than a mobile game from BlizzCon, the ultimate gathering of diehard and overwhelmingly PC-focused Blizzard fans. It’s understandable that many people were disappointed by Diablo Immortal – as our sister site PC Gamer reports, Blizzard even said it was expecting some backlash, just not this much – even if some of the doomsaying has been blown out of proportion and some of the naysaying has been taken too far. Immortal is not going to detract from Diablo 4, Blizzard has not pivoted to mobile, and it’s entirely possible to express disappointment or disinterest respectfully.
If Blizzard had shared a teaser for Diablo 4 at BlizzCon, even a wafer-thin one like a GIF of a flaming “4”, Diablo Immortal’s reception may have been more positive. The knowledge that a full-fat Diablo game is on the way may have positioned Immortal as a snack to be enjoyed in the meantime, not unlike the relationship between Fallout Shelter and Fallout 4.
Here’s everything else you need to know from BlizzCon’s opening ceremony.