Episode 30: Diablo Immortal or Diablo Immoral? Discussing the Monetization Controversy Behind Blizzard’s Latest Mobile Game

Mobile GameDev Playbook podcast by GameRefinery

In this special episode of the Mobile GameDev Playbook, our host Jon Jordan discusses the popular but controversial game Diablo Immortal with Erno Kiiski and Wilhelm Voutilainen, Chief Game Analysts at GameRefinery, a Liftoff Company.

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We discuss the franchise’s background, what separates Diablo Immortal from its predecessors, the player experience, the monetization controversies surrounding the game, and whether they are justified.

Topics we will cover in this episode:

  1. Introduction
  2. The success of RPGs
  3. IPs in mobile games
  4. How Diablo Immortal fits into the Diablo franchise
  5. Diablo Immortal’s monetization model and controversy
  6. Developing Diablo Immortal for a Chinese audience

Read transcript


[00:00:00] Jon Jordan: Hello, and welcome to the Mobile GameDev Playbook. Thanks for tuning in for another episode. This is the podcast all about what makes great mobile games, what is and isn’t working for mobile game designers, and all the latest trends. I’m your host John Jordan, and today we have a special episode. I think it’s the first time we’ve ever done an episode specifically about one game. That game is Diablo Immortal, and we have two experts in the scene to discuss that in great detail. Welcome, Erno Kiiski and Willhelm Voutilainen, from GameRefinery. How’s it going, guys?

[00:00:36] Erno Kiiski: It’s going great. Nice to be here. It’s been a while, actually, since I’ve been on the podcast. Nice to talk around again.

[00:00:43] Wilhelm Voutilainen: Good. Definitely nice to be here. It’s been a while for me as well, but yes. I am doing really well.

[00:00:51] Jon: Well, I think we’ll get a problem shutting up today. By the sound of things, I think there’s a lot to talk about regarding Diablo Immortal. Not many mobile games, I think, have generated as much interest just by their announcement, let alone the ongoing development. Before we get really stuck into the details of this game, should we have an overview of what’s been going on generally in the mobile RPG market because that’s where Diablo sits? As a franchise, it’s one of these seminal RPG games on PC, but how does it fit in terms of what we’ve seen with other mobile games up to this point?

The success of RPGs

[00:01:29] Erno: Yes, definitely. Well, we start thinking about, especially Diablo Immortal. It’s only launched at the moment in the West. They postponed the China launch because of some weird controversies that may be happening on their social media. Maybe we’re going to talk about it later. At the moment, it’s only in the West. If you look at the Western market on mobile, on the RPG market, what we can see, is the distribution of what kind of RPGs there are. Pretty much 95% of those games are turn-based RPGs.

First and foremost, pretty much every single successful one is a character collector RPG. The whole model, the whole core loop, is based on collecting characters. 

If we look at some games that have been successful in the Korean or Chinese mobile market, there are more MMORPGs based on singular characters. That type of game hasn’t really found success in the West, even like action RPGs haven’t had much success in the West until Genshin Impact. In Genshin Impact also, if you look at the meta side of the game, it’s a character collector RPG, and that’s how the game is monetized.

In that sense, Diablo sits in this category that hasn’t been successful on a bigger scale of things in the mobile market in the West. That is one interesting point. Then, something also quite interesting that we noticed is that everybody knows, especially on the iOS side, the ATT and the difficulty of scaling games and difficulties, especially scaling games for more niche audiences everybody is talking about. It’s definitely affected a lot of companies, a lot of massive dips in almost all gaming stocks, stuff like that.

If you look at the new entries, like the past 180 days, in the US charts, we have found that eight games have been released in the past 180 days are among the top-grossing 200 games. It is really interesting to me. Actually, six out of eight are RPGs because, especially if we are thinking about RPGs, they are not as widely appealing. If we think about the whole ATT thing that targeting and finding your specific audience is more difficult than ever, but there are those games that have entered the charts. A lot of them are actually RPGs.

Actually, if we look at the bigger scale of things, seven out of eight are mid-core, and one is a sports game. In the past 180 days, there isn’t a single crossover game that has been able to scale as a new game to the top-grossing 200 ranks in the US. About those RPGs, there are new RPGs. If you look at, we, of course, have Diablo, then we have Dislyte from Lilith, a turn-based character collector RPG. Then we have Ni no Kuni, which is also an MMORPG, but more like a classic MMORPG type of game.

IPs in mobile games

There was a game called Bloodline, which is more like the traditional action turn-based RPG than, for example, Disney Mirrorverse, which just launched, I think, last week. Again, that’s a game that mixes action RPG elements to this character collector meta. Also, if we will look at those games, three of those games have an IP. That’s, of course, a big thing in scaling these games and getting organic downloads in the current marketing landscape.

If you look a bit wider, I mentioned we have eight entries in 180 days in the top 200 charts and six across the genres, and all the categories have some kind of IP. There is Diablo, Ni no Kuni, and Disney, and then there’s the new MLB game from Glu. There’s Apex Legends, a shooter again with the PC/console one. In terms of new games, only two in the past 180 days have been able to scale to top-grossing 200 without an IP. 

[00:06:14] Wilhelm: Yes. We’re in quite a rare situation in the US market, which is usually a bit more casual-games-dominated. I’m not seeing any new casual games and only RPGs. It’s quite interesting. We’re in a really interesting situation. It feels that the RPGs are really back in the US mobile market.

[00:06:34] Jon: Interestingly, you point out that Apple is changing how people can market directly to players. You can’t really do that anymore with these ATT changes. Broadly, that does play into things like having big brands that you do not have to market directly to specific individuals, but you have a more organic approach. Certainly, I guess with Diablo Immortal, a game that’s been in development or been announced for a couple of years. There was just an enormous amount of interest around that, both positive and negative. 

I think they had up to about 30 million pre-registrations across iOS and Google PlayStore, just for people who were like, “When this game’s out, let me know,” sort of thing. It doesn’t really matter what UA – they’ve got 30 million out the blocks. I guess the other thing to point out, and I think we’ll touch on it as we go through, is the game is also available as a PC game. It’s interesting. The history of Diablo is a seminal PC game with three games released over the years.

Diablo Immortal is the first free-to-play one, but you can play it on PC, and you can play on mobile. It’s the same game. Probably an additional audience is playing on PC. Okay, cool. Where should we start? One of Diablo Immortal’s criticisms was that it will be a free-to-play mobile game, which PC players who like to pay for their games and play them on PC don’t like from the get-go. The other thing was there was a concern that it would be watered down and full of microtransactions.

From a very broad state, how do you think the Diablo Immortal fits within the Diablo franchise. If you’re playing on PC, would it be a very different game, or do you think it’d sit nicely within the current franchise?

How Diablo Immortal fits into the Diablo franchise

[00:08:24] Wilhelm: Yes. I have to say Diablo is a classic premium PC RPG. We had Diablo I, II, and III, and now we basically have this monetization-wise, completely different, so to speak, free-to-play MMORPG, and it’s on mobile. That way, it’s completely different from the older PC titles, but I have to say the gameplay itself because it’s made so well, it feels like this authentic Diablo III experience. 

[00:09:08] Erno: Yes, definitely. I would agree with that. We come to the big, big problem that it’s never easy to bring an old premium series known for ages and had always been premium with no microtransactions at all. How you transform that into an actual free-to-play model it’s not an easy task, especially for that audience, the fan audience that has always existed for those games. It can be hard to sell to that specific audience that is used to paying something up-front and not having any microtransactions. 

If you look at the mobile market and these games with the PC/console IPs that have come, pretty much shooters are the only ones that have been able to find big success on mobile. One thing is that that model has also found success on the PC/console side. We already have War Zone and Fortnight, and that type of cosmetic model seems to be or at least doesn’t generate as much backlash as games with free-to-play models that allow you to pay for progression or a pay-to-win type of a situation.

[00:10:42] Jon: I’ve just played a couple of hours. I’m not a big Diablo fan. It’s not the sort of game I would play. To me, I felt that it was a surprisingly good experience. Maybe I’m a cynic and expected it to be a bit more ‘not so good’, but it certainly felt like a PC game. From that point of view, that was different from what I expected. It was very smooth from a user experience. Obviously, it’s a big download, but they handled that in the background quite nicely. I felt the first experience was very well-crafted.

You knew what you were doing at any period of time, and it was all those typical things you like to see. You run around, you feel really strong, you’re killing loads of bad vampires, and you’re just leveling up all the time. It was great, and obviously, I’ve not played that much of it, but I felt the user experience was really good, and obviously, the monetization doesn’t come into it at that point. There’s certainly not a hard sell into it. To me, who’s not a big Diablo fan, it felt very authentic, which is a word I think you use too, Wilhelm. 

[00:12:00] Wilhelm: I have to say, first of all when you start the game at empty stats, you will play through the main campaign. I have to say that it felt like a AAA console experience. It was so well-made. The controls, smoothness, and response of when you use your skills, I would say pretty much comparable to Genshin Impact. Similarly, they were able to find it. On top of that, at least for me, I have not played too many Diablo games before. I don’t know about the store that much, but it was really well done. 

Honestly, it was just a good experience, all the effects on the bosses and everything; it felt really good. About the controls themselves, I have to say it’s similar to Genshin, when you have this action/MMORPG, at least in the US mobile market, that has these super smooth controls and that being more of this core game-play-focused game instead. There have been lots of action RPGs and MMORPGs in the Western markets, but they have not been able to find that much success. 

For example, one of the newest ones was Marvel Future Revolution. I feel those games have been more meta-game-focused where the core gameplay, at least in the Western market, should be more of a focus, has not been at the same level as in Diablo or Genshin. In those games, you usually just put autoplay on and grind it. Then you focus on the metagame, but on Diablo and Genshin, it’s the other way around. 

[00:13:56] Jon: I think, as you say, that is a real focus for a developer who’s spending an enormous amount of time just honing that gameplay software. As you say, mobile games are basically “here’s an auto button.” It doesn’t matter. You’re collecting, leveling up, or whatever you do. When I was playing the game, I was only going to play for half an hour, and two hours later, it was like, “Oh, it’s time to go to bed,” sort of thing, which never happens with me with those action games. Okay, it’s very early on. Just running around and shooting things was really good fun; probably 10 hours in it, maybe it becomes a little less fun. 

The other thing I guess that Diablo is known for is you’re basically getting all this gear all the time. You’re killing some enemies and getting some cool gear. It’s not as if it’s even better gear than I already had in leveling up. That was an ongoing, probably slightly hectic experience to get people into the game, but I felt it worked. The criticism people, I think, originally had about the game was that it was going to have really heavy monetization and be a really bad version of Diablo for mobile games. It was absolutely not. I felt it was actually top-notch. Also, Blizz is the publisher, and NetEase, a Chinese company, did most of the development as far as I understand it.

I think that was another concern: “Oh, it’s going to be a Chinese version of Diablo.” That’s the game side of things. Should we get into monetization? This is the biggest concern people had: monetization. I never bought anything in the game. I didn’t feel I needed to. How does Diablo Immortal compare with other mobile games, RPGs, or monetization and to other free-to-play RPGs?

Diablo Immortal’s monetization model and controversy

[00:15:49] Wilhelm: First of all, the monetization, of course, it’s completely different than the Diablo PC games before us. They had no microtransactions. But, compared to other mobile games, especially RPGs, it’s similar in terms of its pay-to-win as other RPGs. However, as Erno mentioned, they’re more just character collector RPGs, while Diablo is more single-player-focused, where you have your own one character. You’re developing that true gear and everything. 

I’m not going to go too deep into the different monetization elements because I could spend one hour explaining them. Basically, in short, you have two different premium currencies, eternal orbs, and platinum. Then eternal orbs are the leading premium currency. That can only be gained through purchases with real money and is used for different things in the game, like cosmetic items and materials to reforge your gear, awaken your gear, and so on. You can also purchase this platinum with that as well.

The main thing, actually, and I would say this is probably one of the things that caused some controversy in the monetization, especially for the hardcore Diablo fans who are not used to this microtransaction mobile monetization. The biggest thing and I would also say the main monetization mechanics in the game, are the legendary crests that you purchase with the eternal orbs. What you do with the legendary crests then is that you use them to enter this Elder Rift gacha.

This Elder Rift is a quick and easy dungeon you enter into. You basically cannot fail there. Let’s say you somehow manage to die there; then you get your legendary crests back, though. Those Legendary crests are these gacha tickets like in usual RPGs. Anyway, you complete the Elder Rift dungeon, and then basically, in the end, you kill the boss, and then they gacha. The loot that you would normally get from opening a gacha in an RPG game, that loot is the end loot of the dungeon. If you inject the Elder Rift with those legendary crests, you get one of the main meta things in the game. 

One of the biggest things that affect your character’s powers is these Legendary gems you inject into your gear. The main way to get these legendary gems, especially the highest tier legendary gems, and again, this is one of the things that caused some controversy: the only way to get these highest tier legendary gems is through purchasing these legendary crests. In short, there are legendary one-star gems, two-star legendary gems, and legendary five-star gems. The legendary five-star gems are incredibly powerful. They do not just, for example, give you passive boost and passive practice skills. 

They also increase your stats, but the game has a resonance system. What that does are the legendary gems you have in your gear. Of course, the better legendary games, the more they do increase your resonance. The resonance then basically increases that stats from your equipment items. It doesn’t matter how good equipment items or anything you have after the game, but you have to have as high a return as possible. Those get boosted by your legendary gems. The big thing here is that the only way to get these legendary five-star gems is to purchase eternal orbs and then use them in the Legendary Crest.

They are not really available for free players. That’s the main monetization of the game. Of course, there’s the platinum premium currency, which is then used to purchase items from other players in the open market. There are some other use cases for that. There are also lots of these different monetization mechanics, these really trending ones that they have been talking about for years. Like, as you have your pedal pass, succession plans, paid progression plans, and these kinds of bundles. Still, the biggest thing, if you want to increase your player power, you want to be purchasing these legendary crests to run this Elder Rift to get those big legendary gems. 

[00:21:12] Jon: People who have looked into the game, as you probably understand, it does get quite complicated. I read that in a whole bunch of different materials. I think once you get into it and start playing the game, it becomes a bit more clear. Before you’ve played the game, there’s a bit abstract. You got orbs, platinum, stones, crests, gems, and gear, and somehow it all comes together. As you say, there’s been a lot of focus on these rare high-end items that boost you the biggest. 

A lot of focus for people like YouTubers and influencers has been to focus on that because that’s the leverage they get to their audience who don’t like monetization. Then they’re saying how much money they have to spend to get them, then destroying them and deleting the game and all this performance art stuff, which is fine. Do you feel these very expensive, rare, random items are in the game for a normal player? Do you think that reduces their enjoyment that there are these things they’re never going to get? Or does a normal player just go, “Well, I’ve got a Toyota; I’ve not got a Rolls Royce in the world. Nice to have a Rolls Royce, but I haven’t got one. That’s fine, and my Toyota is fine.”? Does it impact us apart from when people try to use it as a stick to beat Blizzard? 

[00:22:34] Erno: I will start with that being a no. Not like a normal player not yet in the end game. Yes, definitely one thing that separates Diablo Immortal from most of the rest of the mobile game market is that depending on your player type; if you’re just a casual player, you want to play through the story, you can do it without spending, and that’s an exceptionally high-quality experience. But, of course, for the hardcore audience, for the big, big Diablo audience, the end game is where the actual game is.

It’s when you complete the story; that’s just the start. The actual initial experience, I don’t know how long it takes like 20, 30 hours to complete, something like that, you can get a lot of value. But if you are that player who wants to go for the endgame, that’s where the monetization kicks in. I understand the controversy, especially players that have been coming from the old Diablo games, because then it becomes this pay-to-win game because the competition kicks in. You’re not able to compete at all against those who are spending a lot of, lot of money. 

It depends a bit on your player type and, I would say, how it affects the experience. For the more casual player, I would say Diablo immortal. Compared to at least many of the other mobile games, it gives quite a bit of value, but for the long run, for the endgame, that’s where things really, really kick in and start to affect the experience. Then if you’re similarly going into the endgame than with the old Diablos that I’m going to be able to compete, that’s not going to happen, and that’s going to piss a lot of people off.

If you are playing the endgame with “Okay, I’m not looking to be the best, I’m not looking to be on the top of the leaderboard, or so on,” I’m sure you can find the enjoyment there as well. Something that’s, well, we’re going to talk about the future maybe a little bit later on. But if we compare Diablo Immortal’s monetization to some of the other games like Genshin Impact, that also has a lot of value for the free player for just playing through the story, enjoying the world, and so on. 

Diablo’s monetization model focuses a lot on the high-spending users because it’s all about improving, getting those gems and getting those better, better stats, and so on for the individual character. There isn’t as much value for the low spender; why would I spend anything if I’m not going to be spending a lot. I don’t feel the sense of progression that much, or I don’t feel a lot of gains compared to, let’s say, Genshin Impact, which I think has a bit wider spectrum for different types of players in terms of monetization.

First, there isn’t that much competition, even in Genshin Impact, but some events tap into that. Anyways, if I had everything, I would have to spend a lot, but if, let’s say, I just want to get one new character, then I start to grind that up and so on. Again, as a low spender, I feel the value; I can get this new cool character that I want, and I can spend a little bit and get something.

In Diablo, it feels more that you need to really spend a lot to feel the sense of actually getting something for your money. That’s one of the key issues at the moment that I see for Diablo in the future and will be. Of course, they haven’t ticked in the live operation. That will be interesting to see where it goes. To wrap up my thoughts on that, the initial experience was really player-friendly, to be honest. If you are that casual player just looking for the story, play through that, but then the endgame, but then the endgame, it supports that whale player quite a bit.

[00:27:22] Wilhelm: Yes, I absolutely actually agree with Erno. I can open up the endgame. My thoughts on that, I’ve actually, because I’ve played the endgame quite a bit already. Absolutely accurate, Erno. For a casual player who just plays them through the main story, you do not need to spend any money because the game is relatively easy to complete while still being fun. Still, I will say then, when you get to the endgame, as Erno mentioned, it depends on your player type. 

For free players who just want to play the game for fun, who do not care about making their character as strong as a whale’s character, they will have a really good time. There’s so much stuff to do for free players. You always get to broker something, and you don’t feel you need to pay. But then the thing comes if you are competitive, let’s say you like the PvP a lot, you play in the battlegrounds, there’s going to be a lot of whales who are going to be so much stronger than you because they have those high Legendary gems and high resonance increasing their gear that you are not able to get as a free player.

I would say there are no better/best plans and lower price points for quiet and mid-spenders once you get those nice cosmetic skins and everything. That can be enjoyable for those too, but let’s say you are a low spender and still competitive. You’re going to get demotivated when you realize that the only way you’ll get those highest-tier Legendary gems is by spending a lot of money.

That’s when I would say the player experience might lack a bit. Of course, for the whales, if you want to spend a lot of money on the game, you can do so. Also, there is this, I’m not going to go too deep into it, but there’s this immortal system, which has spots for 100 ‘highest’ or the ‘coolest’ players on the server and just highlights the whales even more. If you’re a whale or a non-competitive low-spender or non-spender, you will have a good time, but in the middle, it might feel like an unbalanced experience. 

[00:29:58] Jon: Diablo III is a PC game. I think it sold about 30 million copies. In a couple of years, $1.5 billion of revenue, broadly speaking. Suppose you think Diablo Immortal is an expensive project, if not more. If you’re looking just to raise that amount of money, then, as Erno pointed out that it’s where you place those monetization pain points. You can try and monetize the entire audience. Roughly, it’s always going to be more towards the end. You can try and get a bit of monetization out of people. 

It seems like they very much maybe because of the controversy they’ve had about making it free-to-play, “Let’s just not worry about the majority of players, obviously, about battle passes and stuff, but let’s really focus it on those people who can spend, and let’s make that very competitive.” The idea of having 100 slots, if you got 101, you’re like, “Oh.” You get to spend a bit more to get in there. Broadly speaking, in commercial terms, that’s what they have to do.

Do we have any idea how it is monetizing at the moment? I think I saw some numbers saying about 24 million in the first month. That’s an estimate, I think. That seems pretty competitive for the first month? Do we think it will be a billion-dollar game in its first year? That’s the highest level, isn’t it, that we would look to for like a Genshin Impact, which did a billion dollars in its first year? 

[00:31:25] Erno: At the moment, of course, we don’t know yet much about how the game is going to be, actually, live-operated, how it’s going to evolve. I mentioned earlier the big difficulty for that model compared to Genshin. If you look at the revenue models of Genshin, always, there’s a big, massive new event, new characters, then a new gacha, which then monetizes. There’s always a massive spike, which keeps the game alive. The live operations are insane, how MiHoYo is putting in from their level and operating, the quality of the events, new types of stories, and everything, which keeps the players engaged.

It will be really interesting to see. For example, as I said, at least all of the other games in the West have been character collectors. If you play Genshin, there’s always an event story when they bring a new character into the game. They also get that emotional connection to the characters, which makes you more likely to purchase it. 

Or like Marvel Strike Force, when they bring a new character, of course, in this turn-based RPG, there’s the power creep to give a reason why especially for the high spenders, want it instantly because it’s a really strong character that then comes into the meta. It’s really important for those, bringing this new character. It will be really, really interesting to see how well it can sustain. If you look at Diablo revenues, it comes together with the downloads, but both are going down. The trend is already going down.

But, if you look at the revenue per download metric, it is still quite steadily rising. In the US, based on our estimations, it’s about $4.5 at the moment in terms of revenue per download. I would say I was a bit, maybe, even surprised. I was expecting, perhaps, a little bit lower. It’s doing quite well. If you compare, let’s say, Genshin was about $6 in one month after the launch. Then, as I said, we talked about, or Wilhelm mentioned, Marvel Future Revolution, the MMORPG launched last year. They had only $0.9 after one month of the release.

I would say at the moment; the performance is surprisingly good. The model has what kind of game it is and what kind of the end game loop is compared to all the other games in the market. I’m a bit hesitant to predict that it will sustain. I’m expecting a shark fin type of craft, but we’ll see. The live ops will tell us because that’s how you keep the game engaging, alive, and keep the player spending. At the moment where the game is, without knowing how they’ll operate it in the future, I will say it’s going to be more of a shark fin type of entry, but what we’ll see. 

[00:34:50] Jon: As you’re just saying, they don’t introduce new characters, so you don’t have that easy, “Oh, I want that new character.” It’s hard to sell around, “Get better gear.” It’s just a different monetization. We’ll have to see if the monetization is coming from the whales, then the live events stuff will have to focus on the whales and keeping them engaged in new things. One interesting point, when you start the game, you choose a character class to play through. You can go back and choose a new character class. 

For people just playing the game without paying, you can almost play it several times by using different character classes and playing through it again. It’s interesting from that point of view. 

[00:35:33] Erno: Yes, actually, one thing about the multiple characters also, Wilhem mentions, it’s quite interesting that, at the moment, they don’t have any connection or account-wide stuff. When you start a new character, it’s always just the new character. It doesn’t combine into anything else. Even these single-character games usually have connections and benefits for leveling up the other characters and incentives. Wilhelm can correct me if I’m wrong, but there is no alternative ecosystem account-wide built into the game.

[00:36:07] Wilhelm: It was common in other mobile RPGs to have more account-wide stuff. Suppose you want to try or start a new class over. Even Elder cosmetics, you must purchase them again, the legendary gems, and everything. It’s going to be really interesting to see what they will do from now on. Because there have been lots of feedback about the legendary gems being too powerful, will they balance them out more? If they would bring their power down, it could appeal more to the medium spenders, as you’re required to try to get the highest legendary gems. What live ops will they do in the future? Because there’s no way, they can start bringing new classes in the same amount as for actually Gensin and is bringing new character. Will they, maybe, like to try to call it let’s say, the World of Warcraft rules where they bring in really big expansions. It’s going to be really interesting to see what they will do. We will be following that closely here at GameRefinery. 

[00:37:29] Jon: There’s a certain amount of visibility on the mobile side, but we can’t really see what’s going on for the PC side because that’s all, obviously, on Blizzard’s infrastructure. We have no idea whether mobile players’ monetization is higher or lower. Also, there’s a big unknown around that. Cool. Okay. We could talk for a bit longer, but we’re ending. What are the headline takeaways? Broadly, for me, I think it’s been a successful launch. I think it’s a very exciting product.

I imagine it will probably be, at the top of many best mobile games of 2022, maybe even in the best game lists, I would think. I’ve been quite surprised about it. Any other things you want to highlight before we finish?

[00:38:19] Erno: My viewpoint would be that, like I said, as a free-to-play mobile game, it gives an exceptional campaign type of experience that we rarely see, even for the free player and so on. Then, as a second point, I would say, the longevity of the end game, longevity of the game, how well it can sustain, how well it will be able to monetize in the long run, with that type of model that they have, that’s a big big question mark, to me at least. Those would be maybe the two. It combines two birds because we have that almost AAA core gameplay-focused experience with Genshin. 

When Genshin came out, when I started to play, it was exceptional how good it felt, how much they had put effort into the core gameplay side, how that feels, and the production values of that. I think Diablo goes into this category that, in terms of core gameplay, it stands out how enjoyable it is to play. As Wilhelm said, most games have this meta-focused, just grinding simulators, where the enjoyment comes from the slow progression and getting further all the time. But now, the core gameplay is, really, action RPG-focused. Those are my viewpoints. I don’t know; what do you have, Wilhelm, to add?

[00:40:00] Wilhelm: I would just like to add that I feel that they are considering the challenge of bringing this PC title to mobile. For example, getting Gensjin, like Genshin didn’t have any PC audience, would be like, “Oh, there are microtransactions.” There’s not going to be as much controversy in, let’s say, Genshin’s microtransactions as Diablo Immortal’s. That’s a huge challenge, first of all, bringing its IP to mobile. On top of that, as it’s not a character collector RPG either, it definitely is not an easy case.

Considering those two factors, they have already managed to pull it off well. All in all, I think it’s a fantastic game. Absolutely. It will be interesting to see where it will go from here.

[00:40:56] Jon: I guess you mentioned it at the start; the big unknown is if and when it gets released in China. It’s developed mainly by Chinese company NetEase, one of the enormous great Chinese game publishers, and you’d expect it to double its player base, if not more.

Developing Diablo Immortal for a Chinese audience

[00:41:14] Erno: I would also say even more about knowing the Chinese market. Not an expert on that, but of course, we have people here in the company. When it launches in China, I believe it will be like 70% of the revenue, though I don’t fully know. It will be big in China. It is developed with China in mind. Yes.

[00:41:42] Jon: Also, it goes to prove I think what we’re saying is the excitement of it as a product is one that it’s had to cover a lot of things. It’s had to take a PC premium franchise beloved in the West, make it free-to-play, give everyone a good experience, and cover the Chinese market, which is quite different from the top end. It is much more a play-to-win than western markets, I think, in general. Thanks to NetEase and Blizzard for coming up with such a great product. Thanks, guys, that was good.

[00:42:16] Erno: Thank you.

[00:42:17] Wilhelm: Thank you.

[00:42:18] Jon: Thanks to you for listening and watching in the various forms in which you consume this podcast. Every time we talk about the mobile games industry, by far the biggest sector in gaming and the fastest growing. I think it’s always great to see genre-defining products and maybe even market-defining with Diablo Immortal. If you haven’t downloaded it, you know what to do. Go and check it out, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Other than that, please subscribe to the podcast. Thanks for tuning in, and see you next time. Goodbye.

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