Diablo Immortal is just the tip of the iceberg for Blizzard Entertainment’s new ventures in mobile.
After the reveal of Diablo Immortal at BlizzCon Friday, I had a chance to talk to Blizzard founder Allen Adham, who is currently the executive producer of incubation, about its newly announced mobile game and the possibility of other Blizzard franchises getting the mobile treatment.
No other new mobile games were confirmed by Adham, but he did not at the fact that the company is interested in creating more mobile games, even hinting at the fact that more unannounced projects are currently in production.
“We’re excited to imagine taking all of our IPs [intellectual properties] into this venue and bringing them to a full-on global audience,” Adham said. “I think in some cases they’ll be completely new games. You see this with Hearthstone — a total reimagining of an all-new game type using the Warcraft IP. In some cases, it might be — like we’ve shown with Diablo Immortal — a similar game type but different and unlinked from the core game franchise.”
Blizzard’s first foray into the mobile market was Hearthstone, which first landed on PC and Mac in March 2014, followed by iOS and Android in April and December of the same year. Diablo Immortal will be its second when it launches.
“We view this as another platform that’s special in its own ways”
Adham noted that as phones get better and better, there’s a possibility that its mobile games could connect with its desktop and console games.
“It’s also easy for us to imagine sometime in the future games that are directly linked with cross-play and maybe cross-progression,” he said. “I think you can expect over the years to come, many interesting things in the mobile space.”
The idea of Blizzard venturing further into mobile isn’t so outlandish. Although some may consider Blizzard to be a developer that primarily focuses on PC games, the company’s history shows that isn’t really the case.
“We’ve been making games for close to three decades now, and we’ve made them in that history across many different platforms,” Adham said. “In the early days it was Amigas and Commodore 64s, and then the Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis. We view this as another platform that’s special in its own ways.”
Of course, just because Blizzard is making mobile games doesn’t mean they’re done creating games for consoles and desktops. Adham made it clear that with Diablo specifically, there are multiple teams working on multiple Diablo games.
Part of the reason Diablo Immortal was revealed now is that smartphone technology has gotten to a point where it’s actually feasible to have a game like Diablo represented well on mobile. From the demo that I played at BlizzCon, Diablo Immortal plays very well and looks even better than 2012’s Diablo III.
Just look at games like Fortnite that are pretty much as good as they are on mobile as they on desktop and consoles.
Not only that, but more and more people are playing games on their phones. Blizzard developers are gamers too, and many of them are spending more time playing mobile games, so of course, they would be interested in developing something for mobile.
“Our pipeline is richer and broader than its ever been”
“Us internally, we kind of reflect our own audience,” Adham said. “Us as gamers, many of us have shifted our playtime from being purely either PC or console to now spending a fair amount of our time in mobile. I’m roughly 50/50 desktop and mobile, and so the idea that we can bring [Diablo Immortal] to that device, and as we’ve seen handheld phones get higher and higher fidelity, we felt a few years ago it was time that we could make an authentic Diablo experience that you could hold in your hand.”
As for how new games like Diablo Immortal come to be, Adham spoke about how Blizzard’s approach to design and its large teams can spin out into these new ideas.
Blizzard has five development teams in Irvine, each of them with 100 to 300 people, and within those teams, there is the opportunity to take elements of those teams and spawn new projects.
Adham name dropped World of Warcraft game director Tom Chilton and Heroes of the Storm/StarCraft game director Dustin Browder as a couple of folks working on new projects for Blizzard right now.
“We have, today, more new products in development and our pipeline is richer and broader than its ever been in our three-decade history,” Adham said. “But great stuff’s coming.”