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Diablo IV game director stresses importance of Korean market

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Game Director Joe Shely speaks at a press event in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, to promote its latest fourth title from the Diablo franchise on Tuesday. [BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT KOREA]
Game Director Joe Shely speaks at a press event in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, to promote its latest fourth title from the Diablo franchise on Tuesday. [BLIZZARD ENTERTAINMENT KOREA]

The Korean gaming market may be small in size, but it’s one of the most crucial markets for U.S. game giant Blizzard Entertainment and its upcoming title Diablo IV, according to the game’s director.

“The Korean market is very important to Blizzard and Diablo IV,” said Joe Shely at the press event held to introduce the game in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, on Tuesday.

Shely came to Korea “to make sure that everything is ready for Korean fans.”

The fourth title is set to be released on June 6.

California-based game developer Blizzard Entertainment is behind the Diablo series and other hit franchises StarCraft, Warcraft and Overwatch, and is well aware of the attention of domestic fans over Diablo IV, according to a spokesperson from Blizzard Entertainment Korea.

In Asia, Shely is only visiting Korea and Taiwan before the launch of the fourth title, a testament to the company’s particular concern for those markets.

Shely promises the company is doing its best for a smooth launch, especially after the predicament the company faced during the release of Diablo III in 2012 when a traffic overload prevented players from entering the game for hours.

“There’s no substitute for the real thing,” Shely said. “Everyone will be jumping into the game, exploring and doing it for real on launch day. But in order to make sure that the launch goes as planned as smooth as possible, we’ve conducted a series of tests, early accesses, beta tests, End game-specific beta internally, then with our final ‘Service Slam’ beta test. After each test, we made changes both to balance the game and server architecture so that it can be as ready as it can before the launch.”

Diablo IV picks up 50 years after Diablo III: Reaper of Souls, the game’s last expansion released in 2014. Set in Sanctuary, the player acts as a savior of the world, trying to battle the devil named Lilith, which had been revived by devil worshipers.

Players will be able to explore five distinct regions in Sanctuary, 120 different dungeons, side quests, events, world bosses and immersive campaigns.

“The story of Diablo IV is the darkest one we’ve ever told in the series,” said Shely. “And it takes place in a sanctuary against the backdrop of the battle between the burning hell and high heavens. As you play through the campaign, you’re going to be interacting with the antagonists and using our in-game cutscenes that allow the players to be part of the action. You’ll feel more connected to the game more than ever before.”

Blizzard Entertainment is also rolling out collaborations with various partners to promote the new title.

It is hosting a limited-run interactive exhibit, “Hell Station,” which takes place until June 11. The exhibit’s theme brings Diablo’s in-game dungeons to Yeongdeungpo Market Station of Seoul’s subway system. A retail pop-up store that features Diablo IV limited edition collectors’ boxes and other related merchandise is scheduled as well, although details on locations or dates have yet to be revealed.

Burger King and Blizzard Entertainment Korea are collaborating to release a special “Hell” menu on June 5.

It also collaborated with webtoonist Cho Seok to release a six-episode series on Naver Webtoon in line with the release of Season 1 of Diablo IV. The exact date of release has yet to be revealed.

BY LEE JAE-LIM [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr]