Blizzard could have, and frankly should have, gone with the same route as Bethesda. After all, Diablo 4 is actually in the works. It could’ve avoided basically this entire thing by announcing Diablo 4 alongside Buy Diablo Immortal Gold. You don’t tease a loyal fanbase six years after your last major title release and then deliver a freemium game. You especially don’t tease multiple projects and then only announce the one that the most hardcore portion of the fanbase is will hate. There isn’t a lot of extra analysis necessary. It’s just not something you do.
Companies have tried to hype up a big mobile game announcement before and failed superbly. Super Mario Run continues to have mediocre ratings on Google Play and iTunes to this day because of the stunning number of one- and two-star reviews from an angry fanbase. There was a point where only five percent of people actually bought the game after downloading it. Plenty of other developers avoided big backlash by being smart about announcing a mobile game alongside some other exciting announcement as part of a bundle as opposed to a standalone announcement. Even Blizzard avoided backlash with Hearthstone by launching it on PC first. This isn’t rocket science.
Other potential factors may give fans even more cannon fodder, though. Netease is co-developing Diablo Immortals. This studio hocks solely freemium games, including three PUBG Mobile clones and a Diablo clone fans are claiming looks very similar to Immortal. It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Additionally, one should consider the very nature of freemium games. They generally have simpler mechanics, less lore, and a larger focus on casual gamers.
Diablo is one of the most hardcore RPGs on the market. The last thing you want during a good dungeon crawl is to run out of energy or, worse yet, grinding for months to achieve the kind of character growth you can usually obtain in a week or two. Teasing Diablo fans with multiple projects and pumping out a freemium game without even a hint of Diablo 4 is like promising your kids ice cream and then taking them to the dentist.