‘Entitlement’ Goes Both Ways

The announcement of the mobile game Diablo: Immortal has been controversial to say the least. For those unaware, the basic gist is this: at BlizzCon 2018, Activision Blizzard decided to announce a brand new mobile Diablo game known as “Diablo: Immortal,” and it sparked a great deal of outrage among fans both in attendance at BlizzCon and throughout the internet. The publisher was put on blast from all sides by angry fans who felt betrayed by the announcement, with some demanding the project’s cancellation and most simply voicing their disappointment. Subsequently, major games media outlets and Youtubers started attacking the fan base, calling them entitled crybabies and saying that they should all just shut-up. Such a reaction is understandable to a degree; gaming fandom has indeed exhibited entitled behavior in the past. However, this is not an instance of fans acting like they’re owed something for nothing. If anyone was acting entitled in this case, it was Activision-Blizzard, not the fans.  Entitlement goes both ways, and large publishers are just as guilty of it as gamers are.

So how exactly is the shoe on the other foot this time? Well, the answer is easy to spot when one carefully examines the situation. First we must consider Blizzard’s traditional status in the gaming industry. Their name has been synonymous with quality for years, and they’ve thus enjoyed an unflinchingly loyal fan base for much of that time. For a great many gamers out there, Blizzard could do no wrong and it would take a naive person indeed to think that Blizzard wasn’t at all aware of that. No matter who you are, it doesn’t take very long to get used to being treated like virtual royalty; so it wouldn’t be too surprising if the publisher started thinking that their fans would eat up just about anything they announced.

Next, we must consider the status of the Diablo series and the hints Blizzard had been dropping in the months leading up to BlizzCon 2018. It’s been over 6 years since the last Diablo game, Diablo III, was released on PC. It’s had a couple of expansions since then, but it’s still basically been the same game all this time, and fans should be able to reasonably expect the announcement of a proper sequel after all this time, right? Well, earlier this year Activision-Blizzard had been dropping hints that there would be a substantial Diablo announcement later in the year, and then settling on BlizzCon 2018 as the announcement venue. Some fans took this to mean that they’d be announcing a Diablo II remaster, but most thought it would be Diablo IV, I mean what else could it be right?

So BlizzCon 2018 finally arrives and the schedule shows attendees that there will be a big Diablo-something happening immediately after the convention’s opening ceremonies. This is traditionally the time when Blizzard would make major game announcements, so fans were quite excited. The main man behind the Diablo series got on stage, all the pomp and circumstance surrounding major AAA announcements was there and…they announce a mobile game. A mobile-only game with no plans for a PC version. A mobile-only game that’s not even being developed by Blizzard itself. That’s it. No PC version, and not even a hint at Diablo-anything coming to PC any time soon.

This was the announcement made to a room filled with Blizzard’s most hardcore fans. Fans who’d paid a lot of money to come out and celebrate the developer’s games with with them. Fans who are all traditionally PC players, and who’ve basically been told that they don’t matter anymore. How exactly should a crowd that’s been slapped in the face like that react? Should they just go along with it and pretend to be excited because it’s Activision-Blizzard and they can do no wrong? No! Of course not. They and those watching on the internet did exactly what they should do: they called Blizzard out on it. Diablo fans (most of them) aren’t angry with Blizzard because Diablo: Immortal exists. They’re angry because Blizzard did the equivalent of telling them that they don’t matter and expected them to applaud and cheer the publisher for doing so. Tell me, who’s acting more entitled in this story: the fans voicing their genuine disappointment or the publisher who expected their fans to be enthusiastic for something that obviously isn’t for them?

To act entitled is to act as though you deserve something simply for being who you are. A fan base expressing their disappointment isn’t entitled behavior. It’s reasonable to expect a publisher to create things they think their fans would like, isn’t it? That’s the idea behind AAA game development isn’t it? Making things you’re excited for that you think your fans will buy? For Blizzard to get up on stage and present a mobile game of all things and expect their attendees to applaud and cheer, now that’s entitled behavior. No one is going to get excited for something that obviously isn’t for them, and a mobile game made in lieu of a proper Diablo sequel is the exact opposite of what a group of hardcore PC players would be interested in. Diablo: Immortal isn’t for long time Diablo fans, and they know it. Expressing anger and disappointment at such a situation isn’t being entitled. It’s just being honest, and it’s a sad day indeed when expressing those feelings gets you labeled as an entitled whiner.

What’s your take on Diablo: Immortal?