Blizzard Entertainment can’t catch a break these days, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for this company that seems determined to step on every single rake spread across a garden of its own making. Overwatch 2’s cancellation of PvE made the already languishing shooter even more enemies, while the extended production cycle of Diablo 4, alongside a noticeable lack of other projects, has players losing faith. Let’s not forget high profile scandals involving sexual harassment and systemic toxicity that has turned the once untouchable studio into a shadow of its former self. Blizzard is far from a golden child anymore, it’s a tatty statue of rust and decay with few redeeming qualities. Knowing this, why keep digging deeper holes?
After the disastrous arrival of Diablo Immortal, there was a justified worry that Diablo 4, which has been heavily anticipated for over a decade now, was poised to follow in its greedy footsteps. From what I’ve played, that isn’t the case, but Blizzard seemingly faked all the questions in a recent video Q&A to ensure the game is portrayed in a positive light, which suggests the opposite.
Hosted by the Future Games Show, the video itself seems to be sourcing questions from a selection of social media platforms, complete with their handles. However, eagle-eyed users have helpfully compiled (via Kotaku) proof that most of the accounts either aren’t active or simply don’t exist. It's worth noting that while writing this piece, Future Games Show came forward and admitted its mistake, noting that some of the users who submitted questions requested to remain anonymous, and thus new handles were made up. However, this doesn't take away from the lighthearted nature of nearly every question and how it's far more akin to marketing than anything else. It's a weird look, and the solution taken here was always going to blow up in Future's face.
Associate Game Director Joseph Piepiora and Art Director John Mueller immediately tell the viewers that they haven’t seen these questions before - and I believe them - but this doesn’t take away from the fact that whoever gathered these questions was using sources that were blatantly false to avoid potential hardball discussions. Considering the Future Games Show is just marketing, it is entirely possible Blizzard or Future wanted obvious answers with absolutely zero chance of drama. Ironic that in pulling this stunt it has created more controversy than being honest in the first place.
The video is intended to be a clean slice of corporate marketing rather than a scrutinising journalistic interview or genuine attempt to communicate with the Diablo community, and Future Games Show is likely eager to avoid burning bridges or conjuring drama during a softball Q&A which is nothing more than a teaser for its own upcoming showcase. The recent allegations suggest this is nothing more than a spineless partnership which never aimed for any kind of integrity, something made obvious as most of the queries relate to whether the game has marketable features like couch co-op and how lovely the graphics are.
I haven’t seen a single question which isn’t designed to blow smoke up Blizzard’s ass to make Diablo 4 look incredible, which would be fine if it wasn’t framed as a genuine discussion. It’s incredibly dishonest and Future and Blizzard are cuddling in bed with little care for how this looks. Except now, we’re onto them, and things don’t exactly look good.
Why give this promotional material the illusion of community engagement? Take commonly asked questions from the ether instead and the same objective is achieved, without muddying an already awkward situation. For years now, we’ve seen Blizzard jump around criticism with fancy buzzwords and press releases, and the one opportunity it had to not only be honest, but gain back the trust of its community has been thrown away for marketing that Diablo 4 doesn’t even require at this point.
Even sceptics have signed up for this sequel, with brand appeal alone enough to draw in millions. Everyone is talking up this game regardless of a little Q&A, and this could have been a chance to express excitement alongside them, instead of taking them for one final ride on this bitter corporate rollercoaster. It hasn’t even been a month since Overwatch 2 began digging its own grave, and pulling a similarly duplicitous trick seemed like a good idea?