Activision Blizzard’s [ATVI] share price fell over 7% from $68 to $64.34 on Monday as investors took stock of the negative gamer reaction Diablo Immortal received at the end of Blizzcon on Friday.
Unsurprisingly, reaction has been most vocal – and severe – on social media platforms. On YouTube, the trailer may have clocked up almost 3.5 million views but it’s also been disliked an epic 471,000 times. Over on Twitter the hashtag #NotMyDiablo has surfaced.
Around 35,000 people have also signed a petition on change.org.
Stoking the fires has been the six-year wait gamers have had since Diablo 3, the last proper installment in the franchise. With a core-audience of PC-gamers, some had been expected the big reveal at Blizzcon to be Diablo 4, not a move into mobile gaming.
Activision Blizzard, in a rare move, were forced to deny any such announcement was going to be made.
Also, disappointing fans was that mobile games specialist NetEase would be taking the lead on Immortal’s development, not Blizzard.
However, it’s worth remembering Immortal was never billed as a proper entry into the franchise, and Blizzard have said that there are other games in the Diablo-world in the works.
By Tuesday, the share price closed fractionally lower at $64.25.
Blizzard expands into China and in-game purchases
For the company, moving into mobile must seem like a no-brainer, especially as it means potentially expanding into the lucrative Chinese market where mobile gaming is king.
In the Middle Kingdom, Tencent’s [TCEHY] mobile game Honor of Kings has 200 million active users. Diablo Immortal could potentially have even more players due to its global brand familiarity.
The move could also see additional revenues from in-game purchases.
“We expect Activision Blizzard to outpace its peers with its in-game monetization, and expect dramatic growth in its mobile business as it launches new titles based upon its successful PC and console games,” said LA investment firm Wedbush.
In-game purchases continues to be a contentious issue for the industry. Expansion packs and downloadable content have meant that recurrent spending on the same game is now a key metric that investors look at when weighing up a stock.
But when this goes wrong, the negative press can tar a game’s release. Just look at the debacle over Star Wars: Battlefront 2, where the backlash forced EA to reverse the use of micro-transactions. Although, the overall ire didn’t impact the share price.
While Activision Blizzard could have made the smart move long-term, it possibly shouldn’t have made the announcement in front of its core audience. Nintendo, which thinks its mobile arm could eventually be worth $900 million, hardly ever announces a new smartphone game at fan-favourite events – the wildly successful Super Mario Run was announced at an Apple event.
Perhaps this is the strategy Activision Blizzard should follow in the future.