A toast to Blizzard, they're just gamers. Like us.
There's this moment during the now immortal Blizzcon 2018/Diablo announcement, where lead designer, Wyatt Cheng, looks... Bewildered. Confused. Utterly surprised.
It’s the look of a man who put time and effort (and some of himself) into a product, that he genuinely expected to please the crowd.
The face of a fellow gamer who just realized that..
- His entire audience are platform racists
- If he is not supportive of their racism, he is by definition against them
- Gamers don't play on mobile, only n00bs and children and old women and girls play on mobile and it's not a gaming platform at all
- Even the peaceful and gentle whale-sized fanbois, the guildless winners from the $199 Blizzcon ticket race, who beached themselves at the Anaheim Convention Center for two days to stand in lines and buy fanboi swag... Have a line.
The Blizzard community, as loyal as it may be, isn’t dumb. Once the Blizzcon crowd understood that Diablo Immortal was a mobile game, the majority also instantly understood just how disgusting and anti-consumer the monetization will be.
They all paid $199 + travel cost to sit there.
Believe it or not, I am posting this in support of Wyatt Cheng and his two senior minions. Don’t know any of them personally, but seeing their presentation and their script for this announcement, I am convinced that these guys are just passionate gamers. Who like to create games. On whatever device and platform is made available to them. Obviously a game designer doesn't decide what game Blizzard makes, his job is simply to make the games as good as possible.
Mr. Cheng is old enough to have played the entirety of gaming; 8bit games, 16bit games, 32bit stuffs, whatever the N64 was. He played his way through an era of gaming where the technical limitation of a device never determined the quality of gameplay. As a creator and designer, he would look at mobile and see potential and challenge. Most creatives would.
Mobile only, very racist, so sellout, probably never occurred to Mr. Cheng.
Explains why "exclusive to mobile" doesn't even come up for 28:02 minutes.
When I ran marketing in SteelSeries years ago, we spent some time developing this pocket-sized controller for iOS, in the end I was actually a little proud of how much controller we squeezed into the little thing.
The gamer (and nerd) in me was really excited. Grand Theft Auto on iPad with our controller, really felt like a PlayStation3 game. We had succeeded in creating a super precise mini-controller, that basically upgraded any iPad to a console.
So I was completely caught by surprise the day we announced the product, that was the first time it felt like there was more community negativity than community feelsgood coming our way. A PC Gaming brand announcing mobile products in 2011-2012 was heresy. Sellout. Of something. Or smth.
Our core audience saw us as a true esports brand, blissfully unaware (or ignoring) that we also released branded products for PS4, Xbox 1, Mac, World of WarCraft, Call of Duty, Medal of Honor, Guild Wars, The Sims, and much more.
My marketing team launched and coordinated licensed products, so over the years I've worked with many people and teams from Blizzard. I offered thoughts about mice and input control to the newly formed Diablo console team, tackling Blizzard's first game without mouse and keyboard.
The console port of Diablo III actually scored higher on Metacritic.com than the original PC game, Blizzard expertly tackled their first console port.
As I am listening to Mr. Cheng’s cringy executed Apple-esque product introduction, it strikes me that to him this situation is no different than “doing a console port of Diablo”, with “player control” still the most significant issue to tackle.
That’s the battle he prepared for. He walked onto that stage, believing that his job was to sell his understanding of Diablo to the crowd. He just had to not be Jay Wilson.