“Diablo Immortal” and the truth about free mobile games

As the video game industry continues to make more money every year, many game developers hoping to succeed are turning to mobile over consoles.

With the mobile gaming market grossing $93.2 billion in 2021 and 52% of global consumer spending, mobile officially holds more than half of consumer attention – which is why many big names are flocking towards him.

That Explains Netflix (NFLX) – Get the Netflix Inc. push into mobile as a way to make up for its recently announced loss of subscribers.

And that also explains why Activision Blizzard (ATVI) – Get the Activision Blizzard Inc report – a developer known for its history of creating lucrative video game franchises such as ‘World of Warcraft’, ‘Overwatch’ and the ‘Diablo’ series – has finally made a mobile game, too.

Like many similar titles on the market, Activision Blizzard’s new mobile role-playing game, “Diablo Immortal”, is free-to-play (or F2P).

Downloadable for free from the app store of your choice, these games typically feature a store where the player can purchase a variety of digital items, from clothing to in-game currency that can be used to purchase weapons, upgrades, and more.

It’s a model that seems harmless enough at first glance: Spend the money if you want to, but if you don’t, just enjoy the game as it is.

Between the popularity of the “Diablo” franchise (launched in 1997 and still going strong) and the mobile format, Activision Blizzard had the ingredients for a great success in their hands.

But some of those longtime fans are less than thrilled now that they know that behind the facade of free-to-play, getting strong enough to complete “Diablo Immortal” could potentially cost $110,000.

Why People Are Angry With ‘Diablo Immortal’

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Most free mobile games limit the number of free games you get in a 24 hour period. With popular mobile games like Activision Blizzard’s “Candy Crush Saga,” if gamers want to play more in a day, they can purchase that capability for what’s usually a few dollars.

This approach to free games is considered ethical because players can still complete the game whether or not they spend any money.

But in the case of ‘Diablo Immortal’, a series that has long focused on obtaining extremely powerful gear and weapons, the game structure is known as ‘pay to win’ – meaning that it becomes extremely difficult to switch to the game later. steps without spending money.

Many actors and observers consider this approach to be unethical and pushing consumers into the so-called sunk cost fallacy. It’s a phenomenon where people feel compelled to spend more because of what they’ve already spent, both in dollars and time.

Activision Blizzard’s approach has drawn heavy criticism from fans since the game launched on June 2, leading to fans “bombing” it on ratings platforms like Metacritic. This is achieved by hundreds of fans rating the game to zero, which eventually lowers its average rating.

The Big Business of Microtransactions

The issue of microtransactions in mobile games for many years has been a source of discontent among gamers, who say they don’t want to be nickel and dimmed. But it is clearly also a model that brings in a lot of money.

Activision Blizzard earned $5.1 billion in revenue from microtransactions in 2021, helping it reach its highest net income ever. Making a mobile version of one of its most popular franchises is therefore an understandable decision.

That said, the company has had a tough year of bad press, encompassing sexual harassment allegations (which have been settled), sued by shareholders over a pending sale to Microsoft and a lawsuit claiming Activision Blizzard CEO, Bobby Kotick, rushed Microsoft agreement to dodge the repercussions due to the aforementioned problems.

Following that up with a free game that’s actually everything but doesn’t make Activision Blizzard look so good. But it could still be a very profitable move. The game has been downloaded over a million times via Google Play (GOOGL) – Get the Alphabet Inc. report. on its own, and its reviews on both app stores are quite high (between 4.0 and 4.7).

But if the model is successful, we may be looking at a new future in gaming, one in which we can expect to pay more than ever before.

Robert P. Miller