With the start of summer 2023, fans of the Diablo franchise started with the new offshoot, which Blizzard launched on June 5th. The hot summer promised to be a hellish summer. Now the leaves are falling, autumn is slowly approaching - and interest in Diablo 4 also seems to be dwindling. So is the party already over?
Fans had to wait a long time for Diablo 4. On November 1, 2019, Blizzard finally and officially announced the game at its own convention. It would then take almost three years until the release. What happened during this time? Fans of the Diablo series had one expectation above all else. With the release in summer 2023 it was clear: the developers had actually delivered. Diablo 4 was well received by critics and fans at launch, but the experience doesn't seem to be particularly lasting.
Diablo 4: The official numbers are missing
With each passing week after its release, things became quieter around Diablo 4. Sure, the release hype is usually followed by disillusionment - but for such a big AAA title like Blizzard's new offshoot of one of the most legendary game series of all, the silence came surprisingly quickly. After all: Blizzard came out with big numbers at Gamescom, but not relevant ones. It was the “fastest-selling title” to date; players had sunk more than 93 million hours into the action role-playing game, which corresponded to around 10.000 years. However, Blizzard did not provide specific player numbers.
At least there is evidence from which one can conclude a minimum sales figure: Previously, Blizzard's Shadowlands expansion for the MMO World of Warcraft was considered the largest quick sales record holder to date. The number: Around 3,7 million sales on the first day. This means that Diablo 4 probably sold better than its direct predecessor Diablo 3, of which almost 3,5 million copies were sold on the first day. Around twelve million players were circulating on the Internet as a milestone at the end of August.
The sales generated so far with Diablo 4 are likely to have satisfied Blizzard and its shareholders. And yet you can't shake the feeling that the biggest party in Diablo 4 has long been celebrated. The start of the first season was rocky, with fans not only criticizing, but also launching review bombing in response to Blizzard's failed communication regarding expectations and changes brought about by the patch. After all, with the start of the season the numbers are recovering from a low level. At least that can be vaguely seen from the statistics of the “Activeplayer.io” platform.
After a significant drop in viewer numbers on Twitch, Blizzard was no longer able to provide a really big boost. The streaming platform's numbers give a good indication of trends and trend reversals, as well as general interest in specific games. However, Diablo 4 suffered a dramatic drop there - by around 98 percent compared to the number of viewers at the time of release.
The analysis of the data from Google Trends also points in the same direction: After peaking around the release days, interest in Diablo 4 as a search term has steadily declined until today. This could be significantly more damaging to a “game as a service” like the new Diablo offshoot than to other game titles, which usually also gradually lose importance as they move away from the release day. After all: With the start of the first season, seven million characters have been created - so there are bright spots and glimmers of hope.
Ultimately, the developers now have it in their own hands whether the party will still be celebrated or the band will no longer play in the future. New seasons are scheduled to start quarterly, and for Blizzard this means repeated opportunities to keep Diablo 4 relevant as a live service title. In any case, the reactions to the new Season of Blood don't seem to have caused any particular stir, at least outside of the core community, but the start is still just around the corner.
And with annual payment expansions, the developers could provide further good incentives to motivate game fans, keep them happy or even encourage them to return. Diablo 4 actually needs the content announced by Blizzard in order to remain a success in the medium term.
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