As we all know, the last few years were very rocky for Blizzard with a couple of major economical and marketing decisions, that lead to the loss of players and their mistrust towards the company. All in all, the quality of their products is still there and I think many can agree that Blizzard games are still some of the more fun to play and we always enjoy coming back to them, even though some of them might suffer from frequent lack of content. I would like to analyze what lead to the current situation and how it could have been improved and can be improved in the future. I think that HotS suffered the most as a side effect of the last two years, even though the problem might have been there longer that we could have thought.
It all started with the famous Diablo Immortal flop. I don’t think making a mobile version of Diablo was a mistake. I think what they should have done though is first announce Diablo 4 with a short teaser, literally a 10sec CGI with Lilith or someone else saying a one liner and a title Diablo 4 following shortly after; THEN follow it with something like: in the time u guys r waiting for D4, we have another announcement to make, a Diablo mobile spinoff, while u wait for the big thing. This way u build hype for D4, while announcing ur mobile game, without the backlash. The way they handled it Diablo fans literally thought that after 10 years of waiting the next game they get is a phone game. They felt cheated.
Warcraft Reforged. The game was called Reforged for a reason but what we got instead was Warcraft Remastered. They promised new content, new quests and support for the game but instead we just got a graphical update with non working ladder system. Again, the same mistake, lack of communication and misunderstanding of their community lead to this situation. We again felt cheated. What Blizzard doesn’t seem to understand though is that it’s not the lack of quality that lead to this situation, not only. It was the lack of transparency, communication and fake advertisement.
Finally, we have Heroes of the Storm. My suspicion is that HotS was a game that was already not really profitable for them in the first place. They didn’t manage to get enough new players at launch and didn’t build big enough player base to properly finance itself. They tried to get a resurgence through Heroes 2.0, but this actually just made the situation worse. After this update there was legit no reason for anyone to buy any cosmetics anymore. Through progressive account rewards systems they tried to get new players in and hoped to finance the game through all those new players buying new characters instead. But this system was too generous and made the financial situation even worse. They hyped it up as the new beginning, announced that the game will get tons of support and that they have so many new ideas and plans for the game. Then, few months later they dropped the bomb on us. In the famous December letter they decided to announce that the game is dead. No more support, no pro scene, nothing. We felt cheated, again.
So what do all those situations have to do with each other? Lack of communication, failed marketing and misunderstanding of their consumers. Gamers are not a consumer group that can be put in the same category as ur usual customer of any other business. In the era of internet, most of your marketing spreads though us, through content creators and through a bunch of friends that have other friends that happen to get other friends into the games. We are often very whiny but at the same time very understanding. One of the best PRs in the gaming industry is done by indie games, because they are not afraid to say that they messed up or that they overestimated themselves or that they decided to change their decisions halfway through. Sure, people r gonna be disappointed that something that got them excited doesn’t come out or is unrealistic but no one is gonna blame you if u justify ur decisions and mention them before the game is released. I’m saying that because unlike other AAA developers (looking at u ea) Blizzard’s products and IPs have quality and I really don’t want that quality to eventually be lost cuz of misunderstanding between both parties. Blizzards marketing is outdated and lives on the principle of people buying their games just cuz it’s Blizzard. This way u will never be able to build a player base for any competitive game cuz u don’t understand what makes those games popular. HotS in not dead. U just need to nudge the game in the right direction, communicate, build hype, show us ur there. Same with all the upcoming releases cuz I can promise that people might still buy Diablo 4, Overwatch 2 etc. But if the games have similar issues because of lack of communication and overpromising, no one is gonna buy Diablo 5 or Overwatch 3. That’s your last chance, u have the products, don’t disappoint ur community through lack of communication.
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