Though it may be hard to believe, Blizzard has revealed that the success of Diablo 4 has not taken away from the popularity of Diablo Immortal, and actually ended up boosting it. As you might expect, the general (negative) consensus on Immortal sort of positioned it as the stepping-stone game for Diablo 4; something players were okay spending time with only while they waited for the proper Diablo experience.
That’s also what Blizzard thought would happen, as Diablo boss Rod Fergusson revealed.
“One of the things that we were kind of nervous about initially was that when Diablo 4 landed it would sort of cannibalise Immortal, and that everyone was just going to be, ‘Oh we’re just playing Immortal until Diablo 4 comes out’,” Fergusson told RPS at Gamescom.
But that’s not what ended up happening, according to Fergusson. “With each beta we did for Diablo 4, the more people started playing Immortal,” the industry veteran said.
“Then once D4 launched, the same thing. Immortal continues to be successful, so we found that because that idea of playing on my couch in my living room or at my desk vs I’m playing on my phone in the car or while I’m waiting for my coffee or whatever, there was a place for both games to co-exist and they co-exist well.”
The news certainly is a little surprising, particularly considering the reaction to the free-to-play game’s excessive microtransactions. While Blizzard always pushed back at the idea that Immortal is heavily-monetised, it’s clear player spending is required in the endgame – something that tainted its reputation further.
With that in mind, there’s certainly something to be said for games boosting the popularity of similar titles in the same genre/series. I know a number of people who were encouraged to buy Diablo 2: Resurrected after playing Diablo 4, and someone who even went back to finish everything they didn’t do in Diablo 3 and its expansions.