Be forewarned, this is more rant than much else.
I think it’s fair to say that Diablo 3 would not be here today without Wyatt at the helm. He took the junk that Jay Wilson delivered and somehow managed to give us Reaper of Souls. Seasons, real legendaries, Kunai’s Cube, sets that mattered, balanced skills, adventure mode, nephalem rifts, GRs, drop rate changes, and the removal of the auction house.
At no point does anyone question Wyatt’s devotion to the Diablo franchise.
The people who Wyatt works for… those are the ones that put him on stage this weekend.
It exists and I honestly thought it would be a great April fool’s joke when I posted earlier. I have tried a few dozen ARPG games on mobile – all of them follow the exact same formula. The best ones are fun for a week or two, never past that point. It’s the limitations of the medium. Certainly it supports the infinite grind. Mobile is all about infinite grind. What’s missing is the controls. (and the monetization, but there’s no details on that so I’ll skip it)
Controls from the perspective of people who will sink hundreds of hours into detailed and complex builds. The quick info that I’ve read from the demo that proves that point with gusto. The Barbarian build works due to whirlwind being a caster-centered AE attack. The Monk struggles a bit more since you need to aim some attacks. The Wizard doesn’t work since you need to aim almost everything, and some attacks have such a large wind up time that the creatures are dead before you get the cast off. Will the game make money? For sure. Will the playerbase be those that went to Blizzcon? No way.
And that is entirely the problem.
Head in Butt Syndrome
There’s a problem in large companies where people are conditioned to believe that they are correct and the client is not. In most cases, those companies are taking advantage of a specific customer base and ignore both their feedback and the trends, while making disastrous decisions with long term impacts.
Kodak is right up there. US automakers are a group that nearly everyone was impacted by. At the ground level, the people who are helping the customers see the extremely boneheaded decisions. Their feedback is either ignored, or so filtered that it’s near useless when it reaches the people who make the actual decisions. Marketing seems to run all. It takes a heck of a management team to course correct, or tell the execs that they are wrong… and great execs to demand that type of team.
I think we’re at the point now where it’s pretty clear that gamer-first culture is gone at Blizzard. The ridiculousness of WoW’s BfA work. The tone deaf responses on Hearthstone until M:TG launched. HotS which still can’t seem to find forward progress. Overwatch is one space where it seems to have something positive going – this from Kaplan.
Does it make sense to make Blizzard Immortal? From a business perspective, 100%. They should have a ton more presence in mobile. Does it make sense to have people PAY to come see you and decide to launch a product you KNOW they don’t want? In what world would you run your own convention and get booed? Wyatt knows this. Everyone that has ever set foot at Blizzcon knows this. That they decided to make this the item of discussion for this year is insulting to everyone involved – both fans and developers.
All Could Have Been Avoided
Blizz built the hype, which was pretty clear after 6 years that people were looking for something. They tried to douse expectations, but that ship had clearly sailed. Instead of just dropping this with nothing else (and no release date), they could have pitched a new D3 class with a TBD date. They could have announced a D2 remaster, with a TBD date. They could have just had a D4 trailer with pure cinematics, and a TBD date.
Or they could have simply waited to announce Immortal until a PAX-like event, or in Asia where 95% of the playerbase is going to be anyhow (like they did with Starcraft 2). Hearthstone wasn’t even announced at Blizzcon – it was at PAX. That makes sense since CCG games were already at PAX.
Blizzard is a billion dollar company, with some of the most hardcore fans on the planet. It dwarfs all competition in terms of self-run conventions (EvE would likely be 2nd). The company knew what it was doing. Any possible defense to the opposite would mean that someone needs to be fired for incompetence. A 10 minute google search would have told you that. A 10 second visit to any fan forum would have made that super clear.
And to be again quite clear, none of the people that were on stage deserve any personal attacks. They do however deserve every snarky comment. They are the face of the company, just like any help desk agent would be. For every ovation a presenter may get, it comes with the risk of heckling and boos.
Someone isn’t toxic when they disagree with you. They are toxic when they focus on the personal aspects rather than the business decisions. There’s plenty of hyperbole. The world is ending nonsense. But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to say, LoL chat.
What really sucks here is that clearly the fans and the developers are highly invested in the franchise. A near 25 year relationship. The players are looking around at things like Path of Exile, or Torchlight:Frontiers and wondering how their BFF Wyatt can improve on that model. There is a still an opportunity here for dialogue.
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