Diablo Immortal isn’t the only mobile game in development at Blizzard’s incubation department, and although a skeptical fan might question the motivations behind these games, some current and former employees insist that these games are in development because Blizzard’s developers genuinely want to make them.
“There are lots of mobile game players at Blizzard,” said a current developer. “There are lots of people excited about mobile games. The reaction inside the company to Immortal is very different than the reaction outside the company. Part of the thinking on a lot of these is, people want to work on smaller projects. Smaller projects in mobile tend to make sense.”
For example, developers told me, quite a few people at Blizzard play Pokémon Go, the massively popular mobile game that lets you use your phone’s camera to catch wild creatures. As one developer explained, the iconic orc statue in the center of Blizzard’s campus is a Pokéstop, and staff wage war over who gets to control the landmark on a daily basis.
The natural extension of that was for one of Blizzard’s incubation teams to develop a Warcraft version of Pokémon Go
, which is in development for smartphones now. Surely it occurred to the decision-makers at Blizzard that this Warcraft spinoff could be a massive revenue generator, but the game is also in production because lead designer Cory Stockton (formerly of World of Warcraft) is a huge fan of Pokémon
. (People who have played the Warcraft mobile game say it’s also got a lot more to it than Pokémon Go, including single-player mechanics.
Perhaps it’s a win-win for Adham. With mobile games, Blizzard can please Activision’s investors by appealing to burgeoning video game markets in China and India, and Blizzard can also satisfy its veteran developers by letting them work on smaller projects that they really want to make. “The reality is, everything that is in incubation at Blizzard is in incubation because Allen Adham believed they were worthwhile,” said another current developer. These mobile games might not appeal to as many of Blizzard’s hardcore fans—those who prefer to play games mainly on PCs—but they have appealed very much to the developers.