[ UPDATE: A statement from Blizzard claims that it did not pull any announcements from BlizzCon, but the same report claims a video was made for some form of Diablo announcement. The statement reads: “First off we want to mention that we definitely hear our community. We generally don’t comment on rumors or speculation, but we can say that we didn’t pull any announcements from BlizzCon this year or have plans for other announcements. We do continue to have different teams working on multiple unannounced Diablo projects, and we look forward to announcing when the time is right.”]
Over the weekend, Blizzard Entertainment found itself steeped in controversy with its fan base after closing out its keynote address at BlizzCon 2018 with a reveal of a mobile project for its classic action-RPG franchise, Diablo Immortal. When it became clear that Diablo 4 was not going to be mentioned, many went on to express disappointment with the company for not at least showing a fragment of evidence that confirmed the fourth numbered installment. Interestingly enough, a recent report has now indicated that Blizzard initially had plans to reveal the sequel at BlizzCon 2018, but ultimately pulled the announcement from the schedule.
According to a couple of anonymous sources who spoke with Kotaku, Blizzard was initially going to tease Diablo 4 with a video of company co-founder Allen Adham telling the audience that the game was indeed in development, but not ready to show just yet. Apparently, though, Blizzard decided to change its BlizzCon plans for the franchise at some point in the last couple of weeks. Evidently, the Diablo team wasn't ready to give an announcement due to D4 having drastically changed over the past four years, and that it may continue to do so.
For those unaware, about two weeks before BlizzCon 2018, Blizzard shared a blog post that stopped just short of actually confirming Diablo 4, with the publisher and developer asserting that fans should measure their expectations, as the game would not make an appearance at this year's event. Nevertheless, one of the unnamed sources claimed Blizzard was still going to assure fans that D4 was in development by playing the aforementioned teaser video at BlizzCon, but then those plans were nixed.
Thus far, many who have weighed in on the matter, both fans and industry figures alike, have contended that if Blizzard simply closed out its BlizzCon 2018 address with even a brief acknowledgement of Diablo 4, the company could have avoided this situation in the first place. For instance, Diablo 2 producer Mark Kern recently argued that D4's exclusion from the event shows that Blizzard doesn't understand gamers anymore, and that the company should have dropped a short teaser for D4 right after Diablo Immortal's announcement.
Although Kern's overall opinion on the matter is definitely debatable, there are still some truths that can be gleaned from his and others' critiques of Blizzard's recent presentation of the direction in which the Diablo franchise is moving. After all, Blizzard contemporaries such as Bethesda had been stuck in a similar spot earlier this year, with the latter having been keenly aware of players craving even the smallest scrap of The Elder Scrolls 6 news during E3 2018, and it managed to meet fans' expectations by being forthright.
Despite not having anything significant to show for the followup to Skyrim, Bethesda sated most of its fans by simply making a public reveal that TES6 is in pre-production. So, while it's anyone's guess as to how public perception of the Diablo franchise will be shaped following all this, it's worth recognizing a cogent case can be made that Blizzard could have evaded the whole debacle by using BlizzCon 2018 as a means to just openly admit that Diablo 4 is an eventuality for PC in the near-distant future.
Diablo 4 has yet to be officially confirmed.