When you say “Red Shirt Guy,” millions of gamers instantly know who you’re talking about. While there are actually somehow two Red Shirt Guys in Blizzard history, Ian Bates from 2010 who asked a viral question about dwarven leadership, these days more people know the modern era Red Shirt Guy, the one who stood up at Blizzcon 2018 after Diablo Immortal was revealed to ask “Is this an out-of-season April Fool’s Joke?”
I have…mixed feelings about Red Shirt Guy. While I do agree that debuting a Diablo mobile game when everyone was expecting Diablo 4 back then was not a good look, I thought it was a pretty rude way to press the issue. Even now, when Red Shirt Guy is being celebrated as the hero who saw it all coming, I still think it was rude at the time. But yes, he was certainly right to be skeptical, everyone was.
Well now, it’s four years later and Red Shirt Guy has finally gotten his hands on Diablo Immortal, the game he made infamous. What does he think of it? He took to Twitter to discuss, in brief, his feelings. Things actually started out pretty well:
Like most people, he found the early levels of the game fly by, and it’s actually a solid adaptation of the Diablo control scheme for mobile. Those initial hours do feel like Diablo 3.5 in many ways. But the further you go, the more XP starts to be timegated to encourage daily play and “engagement,” and the more you’ll start running dungeons that give you relatively little compared to what $25 a pop could have bought you in the Crest store.
In the end, Red Shirt Guy was not a convert:
That second tweet was 13 days after his initial “things are going okay” tweet, meaning he quit out in under two weeks. This essentially mirrored my own experience. Even though I had fun initially, once I realized how pointless the endgame would be without paying enormous sums of money, I quit and uninstalled. However, Diablo Immortal has made tens of millions of dollars in revenue already, showing that some people have been willing to pay, and Blizzard has effective had no response to any of the fan pushback, and changed nothing. For them, it seems to be working as intended.
The big question mark ahead for Diablo fans now remains Diablo 4, which promises to be a more traditional Diablo experience free of pay-for-power loot boxes, but we’ll have to see. For now, we can say yes, Red Shirt Guy was right about Diablo Immortal. But does it matter?
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