Diablo Immortal, a controversial mobile game development platform for its famous action-RPG series, has had its release in China delayed just days before its launch.
The game''s launch had been scheduled for June 23, but a post from the games co-developer and local publisher NetEase said it needed to make further enhancements, including support for additional devices and network and performance improvements. This is despite the game''s apparent technically smooth rollout in Western territories, Japan, and South Korea at the beginning of June.
Blizzard''s announcement has been postponed until July 7. We believe that our players will benefit from a speedier download and playing experience, according to reports, which includes changes to the status in which mobile devices download data while you install and play, and improvements to support the very diverse Android phones'' distribution base. Players in the region will get a compensatory pack of gear and crafting materials.
A lot of questions will be raised about any additional reasons for this delay, according to industry analyst Daniel Ahmad. The move comes a few days after Diablo Immortals, a Chinese social media site, was banned from making new posts. Weibo said the prohibition was based on violation of related laws and regulations.
Diablo Immortal has been criticized for its monetization, which, according to some, is exploitative. There are reports that the game would cost between $50,000 and $110,000 to complete max out a character through microtransactions. Quin69 also purchased a five-star slot, which includes six legendary gem slots per character, before being destroyed in protest. The game has not been launched in the Netherlands or Belgium, where strict regulations classify loot boxes in online games as gambling.
China is currently undergoing a tough regulatory environment for video games, where the government is actively campaigning against the gaming industry. Many gaming companies have been forced out of business due to a freeze on new licenses and restrictions on the time minors can spend on games. Many of the country''s loot boxes aren''t as strict as Dutch and Belgian laws, although they only require drop rates to be disclosed, and a limit on the number of daily purchases.
Diablo Immortal has been conceived in a large way, dominated by free-to-play mobile phone games. Blizzard also enlisted NetEase as a partner to help it adapt Diablo''s core gameplay to these devices and this business model. It would be both ironic and a serious blow to the games fortunes if the game was denied release there.
Diablo Immortal is a big hit already. Appmagic (via Pocket Gamer) claims to generate $24 million in revenue in its first two weeks on mobiles, without counting its PC version. Blizzard claims to have been downloaded 10 million times, making it the most significant launch in Diablo series history.