Diablo: TikTok, brand deals and a console launch: How the franchise is targeting younger gamers | Science and technology news
How do you sell a sequel to an audience younger than the franchise itself?
It’s a question that has plagued brands like war of stars And Lord of the rings for years, but relatively new to the gaming industry.
Now Activision Blizzard, the publisher of World Of Warcraft and Call Of Duty, is trying to target a younger audience for one of the biggest Game Release of the Year, Diablo IV.
With a core demographic of “a PC gamer in their mid-thirties,” the masterminds behind the 26-year-old series believe the future is in consoles.
“Where we’ve seen the growth opportunity for the franchise is in console and with the younger demographic,” Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson told Sky News.
Diablo IV is the first game in the series to be released on day one on console, unlike Diablo III which was brought to console some time after its PC release.
Marketing promotions on TikTok and branding deals with singer Halsey have all been used to attract Gen Z gamers.
The Battlepass system
Diablo IV also marks the return of the controversial “Battlepass” system – a game mechanic that divided fans in 2022 when it was implemented in Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 game.
A Battlepass allows players to unlock rewards for reaching different levels.
Players who play and win more often earn experience points that are used to unlock in-game prizes. However, you can also choose to fast-forward through the levels by spending real money.
But Mr Ferguson insisted gamers now expect a continuation of the service from their games, which sometimes offer years of content: “You want to be able to dive into an IP and play for a very long time.”
Each new “season” of Diablo will introduce a new Battlepass, offering players new challenges and more opportunities to unlock content every few months.
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The Battlepass is also now key to many publishers’ business models, and Mr. Ferguson adds: “With an ongoing service, you need to find an ongoing revenue stream and one way you look at that is through things like the Battlepass.”
The developers were keen to emphasize that all unlockables in Diablo IV are purely cosmetic and will not give players who are willing to pay a premium any advantage over others.
The game has been in production for well “more than three years” according to the developers, and far longer than most blockbuster films – increasing the pressure for a decent return on investment.
Whether fans share that optimism remains to be seen on June 6th when the game launches in the UK.