Fortnite has gotten to the point that it is almost a dirty word within hardcore, PC gaming communities. It is equated to being incredibly casual and kid-friendly (read: for shitter noobs) for various reasons from the art design to the simplicity of it's game play, but one thing that can't be denied is its player base. Fortnite captured millions of eyes around the world for more than 24 hours with their latest update. Millions of people tuned in and stared at a literal black hole for hours on end, and in the end witnessed one of the most massive content updates to ever go live in the history of gaming. Massive in terms of scope, and not in terms of actual content. While many systems were overhauled, many were also reverted to older mechanics that had been popular in the past. So what causes a game to reach such a massive audience over a single update? Availability.
Fortnite was one of the absolute pioneers when it came to terms of making itself available to the the widest player base possible, all thanks to enabling cross-platform play. Now it didn't matter where you were in the world, or what system you used for gaming: if you could get online, you could get Fortnite. That availability opened more people across the world to play with their friends and to make new ones than ever before in the history of gaming. Because it wasn't about what console brand you were loyal to, it was about what game you wanted to play.
Cross-platform play has been one of the largest requests from console gamers throughout the last dozen or so years, and there was never a company or a system that got it right, because the technology was not there yet (TM Blizzard). The emergence of cloud based services and storage, however, has changed the way that a company like Epic can ship ONE version of a game to every single platform and have them just work together, and every single big name in the gaming industry is well aware of the fact that Epic got there first, and they've been playing catch-up for more than a year now.
So where does Blizzard, and more importantly Diablo, fit into this equation? Well, if you assume the goal of any business it to make money, then you have to assume that they are going to follow the trends in their market that lead to the highest amount of potential revenue. Over the last few years we've seen Overwatch and Diablo III extend to multiple consoles. Even on Nintendo, typically thought to be a platform geared for younger audiences. Now we see that they are extending into the mobile market with Diablo Immortal, which rumored to be scheduled for a quiet release in the Asian markets before Blizzcon. These facts, along with their integration into Facebook and Google paints a picture that is very plain to see: they have extended their reach into every single possible platform that the gaming market covers. So again, if we assume that our goal as Blizzard is to make as much money as possible, then what do we need to do when we have millions of customers spread out across half a dozen platforms? Consolidate the player base. Release one version of their games. No more hassle of updating for different consoles, and no more saying "I can't play with my friend because they have a PlayStation and I have a PC".
We've all heard the rumors that this Blizzcon is going to be big. A new World of Warcraft expansions seems to be on the horizon without a doubt. Overwatch 2 has been rumored to be a possibility. The Diablo community has been abuzz waiting for too long now for a true successor to the series (or possibly even a reboot entirely). Diablo 2 remastered, for the old hardcore players who want that nostalgia drip feed that Classic has given millions. What if we're on the verge of Blizzard 2.0. After all, it was earlier this year that they tried to make the transition from Battle.net to Blizzard in name as well.
Is the reason we're expecting an "Overwatch 2" so soon into the games life because it is going to relaunch the same way "Fortnite 2" did? Is the reason we got a toned down version of Diablo III at launch because they had to be marketable to the console audience in order to consolidate the market? Could the "obvious cash grab" of Diablo Immortal actually be a means to secure the phone market for the title that releases after Diablo Immortal? Is the name Diablo Immortal itself an allusion to the fact that the franchise intends to live on? Is the reason classes in WoW have 8-10 core abilities because they need to be playable with console controllers and on mobile screens?
Has Blizzard been pulling the wool over our eyes? Are we about to see the biggest Blizzcon in the history of the convention? They've had data on what the market wants for years, and now they've got their reach extended enough to join that data with the technology available to their market. Could this year be the year that Blizzard's gaming service goes wireless? We'll find out in 11 days. Just don't forget where you heard it first.
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