If you’re like most of the other gamers I’ve met over the past few days, Diablo 4 is now high on your “most excited” list for 2023. Put The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom aside, right? (Incorrect).Almost 11 years since launch Diablo 3, and the gaming industry has continued to evolve since then. We’ve gotten more used to “Games as a Service,” we’ve gotten better at incorporating social elements into RPGs, and we’ve rethought lifecycle and monetization — for better or worse — when it comes to AAA projects.
Diablo 4 has been watching, like an ancient demon in the dark, learning from the mistakes of its peers. In the decade since The Dark Lord last loomed over our consoles and PCs, countless Diablo-loving games have come and gone, but none have stood the test of time. Every newcomer who’s famous for five minutes before being unceremoniously killed and jettisoned makes Diablo stronger — anyone who’s seen the past few weeks of beta testing will tell you that. The return of the king will haunt the industry for a long time.
Regarding the game itself, I need to point out some shortcomings, which mostly stem from the technical side of things. The game suffers from disconnects, crashes, rubber bands, and more than a few graphical artifacts (I’d be more concerned about these if the whole thing didn’t look good). But all of that is to be expected when you’re playing a game in beta, really. The most insidious problem with the game was Blizzard’s inability to extract the code from the code in time for release… because it was Blizzard itself.
let’s go back to launch Overwatch 2. This is not a good thing for Blizzard. The battle pass itself was really underwhelming at launch, and the actual launch of the game is one of the most disappointing examples of a game launch we’ve seen in a while. The controversial SMS Protect system prevented longtime players from logging in, multiple characters had to be removed from hero pools due to bugs and bugs, and Blizzard was forced to give away free in-game items by apologizing to many players – by all accounts – took the game down a very bad path.
Closer to home, in the recent Diablo realm, there has been a botched launch Diablo ImmortalThe gaming community was appalled by the game’s expensive in-game items, and Blizzard even put up a real defense against the criticism, noting that the “vast majority” of players didn’t spend money. It was a bad look, an ugly statement that intensified the feelings of an already unhappy community.
On top of that, there’s the whole sordid employee harassment business hanging over Blizzard like a dark cloud. In September 2021, the EEOC filed a complaint against Activision Blizzard alleging that the company was responsible for employees who faced sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, and related retaliation. The case ended with an $18 million settlement, but the litigation process revealed a plethora of abuses and mismanagement that forever tarnished Blizzard’s reputation.
so. Diablo 4 is great to play, but there’s still a lot to consider before its June 6 release. Blizzard has long had problems releasing games – even Diablo 3 didn’t really gain a foothold until the Reaper of Souls expansion, almost two years after its release.
It’s also worth considering that Blizzard doesn’t care what we think. Overwatch 2 hit 25 million players in just 10 days of release, and that’s pretty damn controversial. Likewise, Diablo Immortal pulled in $100 million in two months. Despite the public outcry and all the stories, forum posts, and memes, the community still seems to be rooting for Blizzard — even if it’s considered one of the silliest developers out there.
Admittedly, the developer did reach out to the playerbase post-launch to see what could be done about its predatory monetization practices, so maybe it understands what the “safe” limits are for the Diablo community, and doesn’t go over them ( at least at the time of publication). But as exciting as Diablo IV is, it’s worth treating the release period with caution–because we know how many times in history Blizzard has missed when it came so close.
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