Last week, Diablo Immortal came out with a new gameplay trailer highlighting the assets of the game. While it lacked favorite pieces of the game (RIP Witch Doctor), it did add new abilities and has plans to bring back fan-favorite enemies like Baal.
However, Diablo Immortal isn’t Blizzard’s only Diablo property in the works. They are also working on the heavily anticipated Diablo 4. It’s the successor to the initially buggy Diablo 3 that eventually became a fan-darling. Despite the fact fans have long-awaited 4, the buzz around it isn’t anywhere near the noise around Immortal. People outside the Diablo community know little about the upcoming new sequel. Conversely, most of the general gaming community know about the Diablo Immortal debacle.
And because of that, we have to ask, is hate better than hype when marketing for a game?
Let’s start by describing the hate.
Diablo Immortal‘s Hate
Blizzcon 2018 was one of the most controversial gaming events of the year, and it was all because of one game: Diablo Immortal. When Immortal was announced, fans had been anticipating Diablo 4 for months. Blizzard released Diablo 3 6 years earlier, the Blizzard marketing teams had been hinting at a Diablo release, and they encouraged fan assumptions that it was Diablo 4. However, instead of the sequel anyone had been expecting, they announced a Diablo mobile game. Safe to say, fans felt disappointed. They felt so disappointed that it turned into a rage. Because as far as American audiences were concerned, Blizzard led them on and tricked them about their favorite game series.
And as if the Diablo devs and announcement team wanted to rub salt in the wound, they uttered the infamous “you guys have phones, right” line. Yes, the same one that gamers memed for months on end.
People on the internet couldn’t stop talking about the monumental, despised flub. Even though it enraged Diablo fans, it got people far past the Diablo community talking about Blizzard and their games. Even now people still rave about it whenever anyone brings up Immortal, and everytime there’s a new release, the controversy is inevitably mentioned.
Sure, that’s not quite fun for Blizzard’s marketing and PR folks, but it has made Immortal a hot topic in the gaming world.
Diablo 4‘s Hype
Let’s compare that reaction to that of the actual Diablo 4 announcement and trailer a year later. Not only was it much more under the radar, but the gaming community definitely wasn’t screaming about it. If anything, it was a delayed concession for the uproar they caused with Diablo Immortal. Because of that (and because it happened shortly after their Hong Kong controversy), the Diablo 4 reveal seemed to fly by everyone other than devoted fans.
Simultaneously, Blizzard’s actions filled fans with rage for Immortal and hype for 4. The hype for Diablo 4 is still stronger for mega-fans, though. For fans keeping up with the dev updates, the fact that the teams working on 4 are still working through the pandemic proves some level of devotion. Also, the cinematic trailer gave an exciting entrance to the new villain, Lilith, a baddie that characters have talked about for multiple games now. Several beloved classes (sorceress, druid) are also returning, which builds some hype. It’s what has been keeping people hopeful for the Diablo 4 2021 debut.
Despite any of these reparations Blizzard has offered to appease their fans, the hype from diehards still has not been nearly as effective as the hate from Immortal.
But does that mean hate is more powerful when it comes to marketing?
Yes and no.
Who’s Stronger: Hate or Hype?
When it comes to leading up to a game, hate can be more powerful in getting people talking. The circle-jerk cesspool that is the trolling, angry debate side of the internet is frighteningly powerful. There’s just something irresistible about canceling and trashing something, and boy was Diablo Immortal trashable.
The hype up to 4 has been much weaker and seems practically minuscule compared to the mountain that is the Immortal controversy.
But when it comes to the longevity of a game, 4 has a lot more going for it. Much like 3 before it, Diablo games excel in the updates to them, the item-collecting, the abilities, the builds, etc. Blizzard games do some of their best marketing in creating a fun game for the people that love them. Then, keeping those fans by catering to that dedicated fanbase.
Well, that fanbase hates Immortal. But they love 4.
So, in the long run, the hype likely will result in Diablo 4 being the more memorable of the two. Assuming, you know, as long as it’s a good, lovable game. But for now, no one will stop talking about Diablo Immortal until Blizzard gives its fans reasons to be excited about their work again.