As controversial as it is expected, mobile hack-and-slash RPG Diablo Immortal is “pretty much ready”. The confirmation came from NetEase CFO Yang Zhaoxuan, whose company is co-developing Diablo: Immortal with Activision Blizzard.
Zhaoxuan spoke on a NetEase conference call, during which he also addressed the potential approval suspensions from the Chinese government in regards to gaming products being released on the domestic market.
In December, multiple game developers and their marquee titles came under scrutiny from China’s Online Gaming Ethics Review Committee. The committee banned or spoke against several hit video games in their quest to combat video game addiction. Early reports mentioned PUBG and Fortnite as banned from the Chinese market. Developers of other franchises, including Blizzard’s Diablo, were advised to take “corrective action”.
“Some provincial and local regulators have modified the format of material submissions but we do not interpret that as a shutdown of new game approvals,” NetEase CFO Zhaoxuan said, adding:
“From a co-developer’s perspective the game [Diablo Immortal] development is pretty much ready. As to the exact launch timetable, I would encourage the market to direct their questions directly to Activision Blizzard.”
Diablo Immortal was announced to much controversy during Blizzcon 2018. With Diablo fans expecting if not Diablo 4, then at least news about Diablo 2: Remastered or improvements to existing Diablo 3, the Immortal reveal was seen as slap to the face.
Diablo Immortal was also the announcement that wrapped up the last Blizzcon opening ceremony for Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime, leaving a sourer taste yet. In the following months, Activision Blizzard kept accruing black PR with the closing of their Heroes of the Storm esports circuit and losing several senior executives. The streak of bad news peaked with the layoff of almost 800 employees as part of major restructuring of the company.
Despite the mixed feelings surrounding it, Diablo Immortals near-gold status might be what Activision Blizzard need to finally see a rise of their market value. At the end of September last year, ATVI had hit an all-time high of $83.19 per share, but reports during the fall-winter period led to a massive drop. Today, ATVI market price is valued at almost half what it used to be in September.