BlizzCon 2018 is just around the corner! Many Blizzard fans have been looking forward to which game will be the main attraction of the event. We have made some predictions based on the BlizzCon agenda as well as what Blizzard has done during the past few months and years.
Of course, we won’t know what the main attraction will be till the event starts, but based on a few facts and circumstances, I believe I can make a rather reasonable speculation. If this prediction is wrong then well, that’s simply all it will amount to; if I am right though, I may just be able to claim clairvoyance.
Will it be Overwatch? Could be. World of Warcraft? Definitely possible. However, the game that is likely the real protagonist of this year’s BlizzCon is just on the edge of your mind. All the past events and info indicate that the main title is none other than Diablo IV.
▶ The First Clue -- BlizzCon’s Schedule
Let me go over my evidence one by one. First, let’s look at the schedule for BlizzCon.
As you can see, there are only two Diablo-related sessions. The rest are filled with other Blizzard titles like Overwatch, World of Warcraft, Heroes of the Storm, etc. What’s important next is the time. The main events for BlizzCon are held on both the 2nd and 3rd (except the esports events). Also, if you look at the schedule for the MYTHIC stage in Hall D where main events take place, ‘Diablo: What’s Next’ is scheduled to go first on the 2nd, and ‘Diablo: World and Q&A’ as the last announcement on the 3rd.
Normally, the titles that appear in the opening and climax are the main subject of the event. You would want a strong impact during the opening and a lasting impression during the closing of the event. What’s interesting is that other than these two sessions, there is no other schedule planned for Diablo, which means that nothing will be revealed about it until the session starts.
But why would Diablo, one of the main pillars of Blizzard’s IP collection, only be alloted two sessions at the event? Both the fanbase and success of the series is no joke, so it seems a bit unusual that it would be given so little time at Blizzcon. There must be a reason behind all the secrecy with the scheduling.
Let’s look at the schedule again. It just says, ‘Diablo: What’s Next’. In the case of StarCraft II, it has the exact number of the game installment in the title of the session, ‘StarCraft II: What’s Next’. This isn’t so, however, for Diablo (it just says ‘Diablo’ instead of ‘Diablo III’). This implies that whatever they plan to show at this session involves the future of the series as a whole, rather than the future of one installment.
▶ The Second Clue -- No Updates, but More Dev Recruitment?
Now, let’s look at the second piece of evidence. Diablo III players had to go through several seasons without any updates -- no new items or system changes. The only changes would include a few Treasure Goblins or getting double Horadric Caches. This lack of significant new content was why some players decided not to play in the latest seasons.
However, Blizzard posted a recruitment ad for new dungeon artists for Diablo on June 5th. If they recruited new devs for Diablo III, then there should have been some new updates, but the game hasn’t been getting any updates for months now. What’s more interesting is that even in the dev recruitment, Diablo was written down as just ‘Diablo’, not specifically ‘Diablo III’.
Also, the new recruit is for dungeon artists. Diablo III doesn’t have many areas where it needs art for new updates - maybe just for new seasonal portrait frames, but why hire new artist just for the frames? The new dungeons they added recently were a mixture of old dungeons with slight changes to the color schemes, so it is hard to claim that the whole art team was working on them. Not only that, art is often one of the main parts worked on during the early phase of game development. It’s been a long time since Diablo III was completed so why would they need a new art team?
They have been looking for new devs but the game they have been recruited for hasn’t been getting any updates for months, which can only mean one thing -- most of the devs have been placed in another project. You can also connect this to the BlizzCon schedule mentioned earlier. Many Diablo fans were becoming more and more discontented about getting no updates, and Blizzard isn’t going to ignore that.
▶The Third Clue -- What Will Be the New President’s First Step?
Here is the third piece of evidence. Not too long ago, Michael Morhaime, who has led Blizzard for the past 27 years, resigned. Morhaime led the company since he established Silicon & Synapse in 1991; his run has gone on longer than many of Blizzard’s fans have been alive. His place was taken over by J. Allen Brack, who had started as the senior producer for World of Warcraft when he joined Blizzard 13 years ago.
This was announced just a month prior to BlizzCon - strange timing for a resignation, to be sure. The CEO’s succession is not a simple matter, so it couldn’t have taken just a few months; the process must have been going on in the background for quite a while.
While the process was likely not an easy one, what comes next is the real challenge. Michael Morhaime contributed greatly to Blizzard’s growth over the years, so Brack has some big shoes to fill, and the first steps Brack takes in his new proverbial shoes will be very important. To make sure his first footfall is successful, he has to achieve something worthwhile - something that can increase Blizzard’s profits and popularity.
However, the schedule for BlizzCon 2018 is quite disappointing on the surface. This is a great chance to present something impactful since this is the first official BlizzCon with him as president. That is why Diablo stands out; the new content for Diablo is likely to be a stepping stone for J. Allen Brack.
▶ After All, Everything Points to Diablo IV
It is now time to organize all the evidence we have gathered so far.
1. Diablo is scheduled for the most important time slots in the BlizzCon schedule.
2. There are no other sessions scheduled for Diablo outside those two; some mystery abides here.
3. ‘Diablo’ is used instead of ‘Diablo III’, which implies there will be new content relating to the whole series.
4. There haven’t been any big updates for Diablo III in the past year. This implies that the Diablo team has been working on another project.
5. On the other hand, new dungeon artists were recruited for the Diablo series 4 months ago.
6. The new president needs an ambitious venture that he can use to stabilize the company following the big change.
Now, some of you may not find these clues convincing, but you've got to admit, they are quite interesting.
If there indeed will be new content for the Diablo series, let's have some fun imagining what it could be (within reason, of course).
▶ What Will the New Content for Diablo Be?
- MMORPG with No Three-Quarter Perspective?
The first thing you need to think about is the change in perspective. Diablo has been the star of three-quarter perspective action RPGs for a long time.
What if the new title for the Diablo series comes in a completely different perspective, like third-person? There are other games which went through similar changes and succeeded -- ‘God of War,’ developed by the Santa Monica Studio. The series went from a 2.5D perspective to a third person view of Kratos’ beefy back; 'God of War' has become even more successful from this change. Of course, there is no guarantee that Diablo might go through similar changes as well.
Although there are already many action RPGs with similar perspectives on the market, hunting down hordes of monsters and demons while farming items is an element that is inherently a part of Diablo’s identity. This is why it is hard to expect Diablo to change into an RPG focused on the story, although it is quite possible to imagine Diablo having a change in character perspective.
- Used as the Future MMORPG
The second possibility is that its genre will be changed to MMORPG. In the case of Diablo III, the hardcore co-op requires the party members to have specific roles and play accordingly. This means that there is a possibility the IP could be used as an MMORPG.
Such a notion is possible if you look at Allen Brack’s career. He has worked on World of Warcraft until now and can be seen as a master of MMORPG management and profit made from the subscription system. There is a possibility that he may want to turn Diablo into an MMORPG so that it can be a foothold for his position as the new president.
- Even More Evolved Three-Quarter Perspective ARPG
The third possibility is that the new title becomes an ARPG even more evolved than now. Since Blizzard prefers intuitive design over magnificent visuals, we might get a Diablo that’s not changed much but still better than the current one. This is the most likely case; if they are to change the genre or the perspective of the game, they would be changing everything they have got so far, and this is not an easy thing to do.
- Mobile Diablo
One of the worst possibilities. With all other games with better visuals than Diablo III having mobile versions made, it is hard to say this definitely won’t happen for Diablo III. However, I don’t think fans will be looking forward to such news. Just hearing it makes me doubt Allen Brack’s suitability -- it’s okay, Allen, if it’s the mobile title, you can just take it back.
- Diablo III for Nintendo Switch, the End.
Another worst case scenario. I hope Blizzard won’t finish with just this but this may not be entirely impossible. In fact, the news that Diablo III will be released for the Nintendo Switch was announced some time ago, and the release date is during BlizzCon. One of the most saddening results I could possibly think of is that Diablo III for Switch and Mobile becoming two titles for the opening and closing of the BlizzCon, the next worst result is having just Diablo III for the Switch.
▶ Another Word for the Predictions -- Expectations
None of these are proven yet, obviously. I wrote down ‘predictions’ but they are more like ‘expectations’. I am also an avid fan of Blizzard and played Diablo III to the point of becoming a ranker. This article wasn’t just based off a fan’s wild guesses but off several signs and references to make a better judgment. It won’t be long till BlizzCon comes; the moment where we will find out whether this piece of writing will become complete rubbish or a prophecy will soon arrive. As a wise man once said: Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get. Well, Blizzcon is my box of chocolates, and while I don’t know what I’m going to get, I know it’s possible that I’ll get something amazing.