How do you sell a sequel to an audience younger than the franchise itself?
This question has plagued brands such as star wars and lord of the rings It’s been around for years, but it’s a relatively new era for the gaming industry.
Now Activision Blizzard, publisher of World of Warcraft and Call of Duty, is trying to reach younger demographics with one of its biggest games game Annual release, Diablo IV.
With a core demographic of “30-something PC gamers,” the 26-year-old mastermind behind the franchise believes the future lies in consoles.
Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson told Sky News: “We see an opportunity for the franchise to grow on consoles and in the younger demographic.”
Diablo IV was the first game in the series to launch on consoles on day one, while Diablo III was brought to consoles some time after its PC launch.
Marketing campaigns on TikTok and a brand deal with singer Halsey have been deployed to attract Gen Z gamers.
battle pass system
Diablo IV also marks the return of the controversial “battle pass” system — a gameplay mechanic that divided fans when it was implemented in Blizzard’s Overwatch 2 game in 2022.
The battle pass allows players to unlock rewards for reaching different levels.
Players who play more and win often earn experience points that can be used to unlock in-game prizes. However, they also have the option to quickly level up levels by spending real-world money.
However, Mr Ferguson insists that gamers now expect their games to be an ongoing service, sometimes offering years of content: “They want to be able to immerse themselves in an IP and play for a long time.”
Each new “season” of Diablo introduces a new battle pass, offering players new challenges and more opportunities to unlock content every few months.
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Battle passes are also now key to many publishers’ business models, with Mr Ferguson adding: “With an ongoing service, you have to find a consistent stream of revenue, and one of the ways you tend to see that is with things like battle passes. “
The developers are keen to emphasize that all unlockable content in Diablo IV is purely cosmetic and offers no advantage to players willing to pay extra.
According to the developer, the game was “more than three years” in the making, much longer than most blockbusters–adding to the pressure to earn a decent return on investment.
Whether or not fans share this optimistic outlook will become clear when the game launches in the UK on June 6.