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‘Diablo Immortal’ aims to be a breakthrough hit for AAA mobile games

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THE WASHINGTON POST – In 2018, longtime Blizzard game designer Wyatt Cheng announced Diablo Immortal for mobile devices. An irritable audience booed, unhappy with the decision at the time not to release the game on PC. “You don’t have a phone?” Cheng, who is the game director on Immortalretaliated.

The moment was immortalized in memes and mockery, much of which was rooted in disappointed public expectations: Fans attending BlizzCon 2018 were hoping Diablo 4 new. But it also comes from a lingering stigma around mobile gaming in the West, where adoption of smartphones as a gaming platform has been slower than in the rest of the world.

Since, Diablo Immortal cemented its reputation, as alpha and beta testing proved the game to be a classic full-throated Diablo experience. (It helped that Blizzard decided to bring the game to PC). The Diablo is one of the most influential in modern game design, popularizing gameplay loops centered around acquiring random “loot” to make your roleplaying character more powerful. Diablo 2which was recently remastered, cemented this loop, while Diablo 3 which Cheng also worked on, simplified it and evolved it.

While 2018 was a tough time for Cheng and the team, he said it only strengthened their resolve to prove Immortal a game worthy of the game. Diablo series, as its free launch on mobile brings the franchise to its largest potential audience yet.

Cheng’s enthusiasm for the project was palpable in a recent interview. “I believe Diablo Immortal is going to change a lot of people’s minds about what they think of as a mobile game,” Cheng said. The Washington Post. “That was one of our goals from the start. Let’s raise the standards of what people can expect from a mobile game.”

Screenshots from “Diablo Immortal”. PHOTOS: BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT

According to Global Industry Analysts, the global mobile games market is expected to reach $139.5 billion by 2026. Currently, China leads this market, although it is saturated throughout Asia.

“I have three kids and they’re all teenagers and they don’t make the same distinction between console, PC or mobile,” Cheng said.

“They love playing on all kinds of different platforms.”

The game launched simultaneously on PC with full keyboard and mouse and controller support, as well as cross-progression and cross-play with mobile enabled at launch.

This decision came from beta testing when game content creators expressed that they would need to emulate the game to showcase it on their streams, the Diablo franchise general manager, Rod Fergusson.

“The idea of ​​not having native support for PCs and content creators didn’t sound great to me,” he said.

Work soon began to bring parity from mobile to PC, ensuring the game works exactly the same with user interfaces and control schemes outfitted for desktop warriors. Ultimately, 2018’s questions about why the game should even exist turned into fans asking when the game launched – and begging for a PC port.

Diablo Immortal also offers a variety of quality of life features to suit any potential playstyle for a mobile gamer, said the game’s lead designer Joe Grubb.

“If you log in and want to do that quick three to five minute jump into a dungeon, you’ve thought a lot, OK, where were you? Where do we want you to be? Do you need to be near a social center? said Grubb. “When you log into Westmarch, our main social town, there are portals in town for Elder Rifts and Challenge Rifts.”

The average session playing time, Grubb said, was actually much longer, around 45 minutes, and repeated throughout the day. That’s when the team knew they were hitting a good balance between fast play sessions and racing long enough to justify parking in front of a PC.

The game is basically a live service. This means the team is planning a slew of free updates, said executive producer Peiwan Yao.

“The updates will include dungeons, story quests, bosses, gameplay features, and new classes,” she said, adding that she couldn’t specify what those plans are yet.

Cheng said he remains confident in the vision to bring the Diablo serial to mobile. On paper, the idea makes sense, especially since there are countless Diablo clones available on smartphones. The traditional and historical comfort that the Diablo brand brings to the genre is a powerful factor in its favor.

“Just because it’s on a small device or a small screen doesn’t mean it’s a small project,” Cheng said, adding that it was the studio’s most ambitious Diablo project to date. . “Team, effort and resources are just as important to Immortal as they have been to Diablo 3 and Diablo 4.”

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