“Male Fanboy Syndrome” Hits ‘Diablo: Immortal’ – with a China Twist!

aka Why Your Childhood Has Been Ruined….And, How It’s OK.

By Ryan Carroll, Editor-at-Large

December, 2018.

Backlash at BlizzCon against the announcement of the latest Diablo game Diablo: Immortal as a mobile game, and not a new PC sequel, resulted in a drop of Activision Blizzard stocks by 7%.  Providing an opportunity for investors who are in the know to snatch up their stock.

Blizzard deciding to go the route of a MMORPG mobile game with Diablo: Immortal makes perfect sense as the mobile gaming industry is the fastest growing sector worldwide.  According to Newzoo mobile games represent 50% of the entire growth of the gaming industry worldwide and is expected to hit $180BnUSD by 2021.  With China and Asia leading the growth.

Tencent / Timi Games’s Arena of Valor aka Honor of Kings internationally has raked in over $3.5BnUSD in revenues, with $140MMUSD coming from outside of the Middle Kingdom since its launch earlier this year.

So, Blizzard co-developing Immortal with its longtime partner in China NetEase – the second largest gaming company in China – makes clear business sense, and from all the reviews of the mobile game before its initial release, Diablo‘s first mobile game iteration will be a hit.

Immortal‘s bad press and stock drop for its developer suffers from what is commonly known as “Male Fanboy Syndrome” we didn’t just make that up…. which results in a fervor of male fanboys suffering from the little known illness of Ruined Childhood!

The likelihood of Immortal not being a hit, either in the States or in China, is slim-to-none.  Especially since gaming giant NetEase has been directly involved with the game’s development from the beginning.

The Immortal backlash is similar to other fanboy complaints.  As seen with the billion dollar box-office smash The Last Jedi, or complaints of ethnic and female characters taking over the mantel of Legacy superhero characters. Jane Foster’s worthiness to be Thor or Riri William re-engineering a broken Iron Man suit to become Ironheart, is due to the fact that female readership is the driving factor of the growth in the digital comic book industry.  That saw a rise of 9,900% between 2007-2014.

Now this is not saying that Immortal is suffering from female or diversity changes, such as the “female” Ghostbusters reboot faced, but from Fanboy backlash in itself.  A backlash led by one demographic and one demographic only – white / male / American –  when a change or update is made to a beloved franchise that has traditionally been propelled by said demographic.

There is no longer just one demographic that makes-or-breaks a Geekdom franchise, and this very reason is why Geekdom has become a piece of the pop cultural lexicon.  As females now represent 50% on average of all superhero genre audiences, in both comic readership and cinema going, to gaming, to fan and comic con attendees.

This demographic change is not due to the traditional fanboys going away, but to a massive new audience that has emerged in the digital age.  An audience that is no longer afraid of the “Sweatpants Paradox” of having to enter a brick n’ mortar geek establishment, with the trepidation of being the only gender of her kind.

In China we are seeing the exact same trend, not a similar one, in that according to The Gama Data report female gamers in 2017 represented 45% of the gaming population.  While also contributing to $3.8BnUSD, more than half of the entire yearly revenue, in mobile gaming sales,

Blizzard / NetEase’s Diablo: Immortals is looking to tap into this growing hardcore gaming demographic in China, and take a bite out of Tencent’s Arena of Valor.  A mobile game that at its height in 2017, female players made up 54% of Valor‘s total users. 

With these numbers and the growth of mobile games worldwide, not just in China, it would seem to be a time to buy up Activision Blizzard stocks after their 7% drop.  Or, to even pick up one or two of NetEase stock which has been hit even worse, due to the regulatory changes in publishing games this year.

Male Fanboy Syndrome and the backlash that Immortal has faced, just like we have seen in other Geekdom areas, will not even register as a speed bump in the road of mobile games and female gamer’s highway to success.

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About the Author
Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.