Blizzard and NetEase are developing Diablo Immortal jointly and the Chinese company recently posted a picture of one meeting between the two. Many expected pay-to-win elements, but also hoped that Diablo would somehow be spared. It wasn't.
One of the best indicators of how much fans hate the idea of a mobile Diablo game is the like to dislike ratio on the cinematic trailer for the game on YouTube. It's currently standing at 25.000 likes and 658.000 dislikes, which translates into a staggering 96.21 per cent dislike ratio.
The main reason is that Diablo fans are mostly hardcore PC population, hell-bent on earning their progress through hacking endless mobs in the game. When someone teased the next entry in Diablo series, only to announce it as a mobile device cash cow, fans rightfully got infuriated.
Blizzard and NetEase have unwittingly provided another justification for the fan outrage as the latter posted a picture from one of their meetings, discussing microtransactions. The picture was taken down quickly, but folks on Reddit dug it back up and re-posted everything.
Li Yang is the person holding the presentation, and he is also the producer of Diablo Immortal. The picture also clearly shows Wyatt Cheng at the table, the same one who claimed Diablo Immortal aims to bring families closer together by slaying demons.
According to the translation found in the Reddit post, Blizzard and NetEase are discussing some sort of a pay to win model for Diablo Immortal. Well, maybe emptying bank accounts into a mobile game will also bring families closer together.
In this particular case of pay-to-win, players will be able to upgrade their items in order to get better stats. The issue here is that an upgrade process can fail and all the resources players commit are lost if it does. Enter microtransactions. Companies behind such pay to win games offer items that reduce the chance of failure through the items bought from the in-game shop, with real-life currency. It's just paying for stronger gear with extra steps.
Blizzard's current official stance is that the company hasn't decided on the microtransaction model yet so it might change in the future. What really matters is whether the model will change from pay-to-win to selling cosmetics, which is unlikely on a mobile game.
The exact pay-to-win model may prove to be different in the final product, but then again, is it really much of a difference whether you have to pay to remove time gates or pay for a lower chance of upgrade failure? It remains to be seen whether Blizzard will have the pay-to-win model for both western and Chinese markets, as the former will likely shun Diablo Immortal even more if it happens.