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Diablo Immortal interview: Creating a mobile MMO Diablo experience

Blizzard is facing a lot of challenges with the upcoming Diablo Immortal and we ask about them in a recent interview.


Blizzard is celebrating Diablo in some big ways over the next year. The franchise seems to be set for the future with the upcoming Diablo 4 and also the trip to the past known as Diablo 2: Resurrected. However, there's a third Diablo game on the way and that's the mobile Diablo Immortal. Blizzard is looking to make this mobile take on the franchise stand out in its own right and to learn how, Shacknews spoke with Lead Game Producer Caleb Arseneaux and Senior System Designer Kris Zierhut.

"One of the things that's really important to us is that we make an uncompromised action RPG," Arseneaux told Shacknews. "Like that is objective number one. It's one of the things that we've spent the most time on, is bringing the feeling of Diablo to a touch screen on mobile. So I would say that we took that as priority number one: an awesome action RPG.

"Then what we've done is marry that to MMO social features. So one of the anecdotes I have is that, from Tech Alpha what I wanted to do is, I really was eager to see the public start to come in. And, so I actually joined the Australian server, where we were doing some of our testing and I waited essentially off in the bushes. Where I knew new players were needed to come through from when they were going from zone number one—where our tutorial is—to zone two, which is our first big open world zone. And I knew where they were going to come through.

"So, I just kind of hung out in the bushes until you started seeing players trickle into the zone for the first time ever. Then you start seeing the zone chat start getting populated and then people started asking, 'Hey, oh my gosh, like I want to do this dungeon. Does anyone else want to come hang out and do this dungeon with me?' And so to start seeing that, that's the feeling we're trying to strike and the balance between just having awesome action RPG combat and these cool social things that people have never really experienced in a Diablo game before."

Diablo Immortal is coming off of its technical alpha, which ran in late December. The developers have already walked away from that technical alpha with ideas for how to improve the experience going forward and they dive into some of that in this interview. We also discuss how elements from World of Warcraft have helped in Diablo Immortal's development, creating an optimal Diablo experience while overcoming some of the inherent challenges that come with mobile gaming development, Blizzard's commitment to creating a quality handheld Diablo title, and the pressure that faces the team given the mounting criticism that's come with the game's very existence.

Diablo Immortal is coming soon to iOS and Android devices. For more interviews like this, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews and GamerHub.TV on YouTube.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

From The Chatty
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    March 5, 2021 4:00 PM

    Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Diablo Immortal interview: Creating a mobile MMO Diablo experience

    • reply
      March 5, 2021 4:02 PM

      Do you guys not have phones?

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      March 6, 2021 6:19 AM

      Sry, can’t hear you over Hades.

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      March 6, 2021 6:32 AM

      Without controller support I dunno if I want to play this.

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      March 6, 2021 7:03 AM

      Funny story - I got DevilutionX running on the iPhone. That’s the open source project where they reverse engineered the Diablo 1 source code. The work to get things going such that it would work on the iPhone was already mostly there they just don’t have cmake support for it yet so I told them I’d see if I could pull that off. And there’s no on-screen controls yet so I need to see how hard that would be to add but it’s totally playable with an MFi controller

      But the funny part is that I initially forgot to turn off the portrait mode and it’s actually kinda awesome looking in that mode. Might see if I can make it work officially.

      So you can play Diablo 1 on the iPhone with controller support... except it’s Diablo 1 and it hasn’t aged as well as you might think.

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        March 6, 2021 7:33 AM

        That’s pretty fkn awesome!

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