With just over a week to go before Diablo III celebrates two months on shelves, it’s still too early to say whether this game has been the most tumultuous and flawed release in Blizzard’s history. It’s certainly the one that the company has had to apologize the most for. Servers taken offline around the world, myriad bugs preventing people from playing the game days after its release, high fees in the game’s inherently controversial real money auction house; Diablo III isn’t exactly the most consumer friendly game to ever come out, and since it’s the fastest selling PC game in history, that means a lot of put out players. On Thursday, the company did at least take responsibility for one area of the game that people have been dissatisfied with: It’s ending.
Not the narrative ending of the game that is, but the more challenging difficulty settings unlocked after the game’s campaign is completed. “Inferno,” the game’s highest difficulty unlocked after completing the game on “Normal,” “Nightmare,” and “Hell,” isn’t suitably built for “long-term” play according to Blizzard community manager Michah Whiple.
The best weapons and armor in the game are dropped randomly by enemies or must be purchased in one of the game’s auction houses either using in-game currency or cold, hard cash. It’s Inferno’s necessitating the use of these items, not sheer character leveling and skill use that is causing problems. Inferno draws players in seeking those items, but they’re also needed to progress.
“We recognize that the item hunt is just not enough for a long-term sustainable end-game,” Whiple told Edge Magazine, “There are still tons of people playing every day and week, and playing a lot, but eventually they’re going to run out of stuff to do (if they haven’t already.) Killing enemies and finding items is a lot of fun, and we think we have a lot of the systems surrounding that right, or at least on the right path with a few corrections and tweaks.”
Corrections and tweaks carry MMO games like Blizzard’s own World of Warcraft but the company recognizes that a campaign-focused game like Diablo III can’t be mended in the same way. “[Diablo III] is not World of Warcraft. We aren’t going to be able to pump out tons of new systems and content every couple months. There needs to be something else that keeps people engaged and we know it’s not there right now.”
Long-term play is naturally what’s kept people playing Diablo II more than 10 years after its initial release.