Taking to Twitter to share his thoughts on the Diablo: Immortal backlash Blizzard received during BlizzCon 2018, Kern referred to the game’s situation as a “fiasco.”
“Since I was producer on Diablo 2, a lot of people have been asking for my thoughts on the whole ‘Diablo Immortal’ fiasco. I hate to say it, but what you are seeing is Blizzard not understanding gamers anymore.”
Diablo Immortal was announced during Blizzard’s event as a mobile-only Diablo game with no plans to bring to the PC or other platforms. Pre-event hype for a Diablo announcement led attendees and Blizzard fans to expect a larger announcement, speculatively something for the PC, despite Blizzard tempering expectations before the show. Kern’s issue wasn’t with Diablo Immortal itself with the producer saying he would have enjoyed a mobile Diablo option, but he said the way it was presented following the buildup felt like a “bait-n-switch feeling moment.”
There is nothing wrong with having a mobile version of Diablo. In fact, I would have wanted one as an option. But the way it was hinted at, and presented, and the failure of Blizzard management to predict the backlash caught me my surprise. Blizzard used to be really gamer driven— Mark Kern (@Grummz) November 4, 2018
Kern’s lengthy thread continued to say much of the backlash could’ve been avoided had Blizzard chosen to tease a PC-based project along with the mobile game announcement. Others commenting on the announcement over the weekend brought up Bethesda’s E3 presentation as an example where it showed off the mobile game The Elder Scrolls: Blades but still teased The Elder Scrolls VI and Starfield. Kern acknowledged that Blizzard said they’d expected some backlash, though not quite as much as they received, and said that had Blizzard asked Diablo fans what they wanted, they could’ve been more prepared.
Blizzard has said now, that they are working on multiple Diablo projects. They really should have dropped a teaser for their PC based project alongside their mobile announcement if that's the case.— Mark Kern (@Grummz) November 4, 2018
The Diablo 2 producer went on to say that the Diablo Immortal situation isn’t a “toxic gamer issue" nor is it an issue of entitlement. He said that Blizzard has perhaps “really lost touch with gamers” and said developers need to constantly talk to gamers to connect with their audience.
Kern's full Twitter thread about the Diablo Immortal reveal and fans' responses can be seen here.