In a surprising turn of events, Blizzard’s highly anticipated release, Diablo 4, faced a barrage of negative user reviews on the popular gaming platform, Steam, shortly after its launch. The game, which had generated immense excitement among the gaming community, was met with a wave of discontent, with many attributing the backlash to a phenomenon known as “review bombing.”
The controversy emerged just days after Blizzard announced the availability of Diablo 4 on Steam, coupled with an enticing 25% discount offer. While the offer aimed to attract a surge of players, it inadvertently triggered a surge of discontent among a section of the gaming community.
Within hours of its release, a staggering 363 user reviews flooded in, with a significant portion appearing to have been posted after just a mere 10 to 20 minutes of gameplay. This rapid influx of reviews led to an average user rating of a mere 58%, painting a stark contrast to the anticipation that had surrounded the game’s release.
A closer examination of these reviews revealed a disconcerting trend. A notable number of them lacked substantive critique of Diablo 4, instead appearing to be the work of individuals harboring pre-existing animosity towards Blizzard. Some comments raise questions about the motivations behind the negative reviews, with many suspecting ulterior motives beyond a genuine evaluation of the game.
This phenomenon echoes a similar incident involving Blizzard’s Overwatch 2, which experienced a substantial influx of negative reviews, temporarily relegating it to Steam’s lowest-rated title, with a mere 10% positive review rating. However, in the case of Overwatch 2, there were legitimate grievances, particularly related to Blizzard’s failure to deliver on the initially promised PvE mode.
Contrastingly, Diablo 4, despite a somewhat underwhelming first season of live service, garnered widespread acclaim for its core gameplay experience, both critically and commercially.
Experts speculate that this backlash on Steam may have been inevitable, irrespective of the first season’s quality. These releases mark Blizzard’s debut on Steam’s platform, and a vocal minority within the Steam community has long held resentment towards game companies attempting to establish their own launchers. It is not uncommon for games that finally make their way to the popular PC store after initial launches elsewhere to become targets for review bombing.
While mixed reviews can be concerning, they do not necessarily translate to diminished popularity on the platform. This is evident in the continued success of Activision’s Call of Duty franchise, which has faced similar review bombing incidents.
As the storm of negative reviews rages on, Blizzard remains resolute in their commitment to improving the Diablo 4 experience. A recent update, version 1.2, introduced the “Season of Blood,” which includes a new questline, Vampiric powers, endgame bosses, and a Blood Harvest Seasonal Event, among other features.
Looking ahead, Diablo 4 is anticipated to take center stage at BlizzCon 2023, with the community event making a return to in-person proceedings at the Anaheim Convention Center after a hiatus induced by the pandemic years. Blizzard is expected to address the concerns raised by the community, aiming to regain the trust and support of their dedicated fan base.