Would we have Diablo Immortal if the Activision Blizzard merger hadn’t happened? That’s the speculation former Diablo producer Jay Wilson has opened up with a recent talk at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo.
Wilson made comments about the Activision acquisition and that company’s impact on some of Blizzard’s priorities. As quoted by PCGamesN, Wilson says that, “Activision’s effect on Blizzard was like a frog in a boiling pot of water; early on, it felt like nothing. But later on the products that were newer and making money had enormous amounts of pressure on them to produce”.
As the lead producer on Diablo 3, Wilson says that production as a full box price release was unaffected. He claims that later games’ teams did feel a push on the emphasis on lucrative business models. One of the impacts of this was that “they wanted a free to play Diablo really badly”. Wilson left Diablo, and Blizzard behind in 2016, and as we all know, Diablo Immortal is now in players’ hands.
Diablo Immortal did release with a heavy amount of controversy over its monetization model, mostly with regards to some gated features and the high cost to potentially max your character. Monetization criticism with regards to F2P games is hardly anything new, but when some investigated how much it would cost to fully max a character and found that this could be over $100,000 (or more), the criticisms got very sharp.
Yet, the launch was a big success, which Blizzard has acknowledged. Mike Ybarra defended the release, stating that their goal was to provide a free, whole Diablo experience, and they have done that, with continued updates.
Whether or not Wilson’s claims fully hold, it could give potential insight into why Blizzard is heading more fully into mobile, including announcements of additional projects.