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Blizzard: Diablo III lacking "long-term sustainable end-game"

Blizzard: Diablo III lacking "long-term sustainable end-game"

Thu 05 Jul 2012 7:23am GMT / 3:23am EDT / 12:23am PDT
GamesPublishing

Statement admits that longevity of game failing to meet expectations

Activision Blizzard

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide pure-play online...

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Blizzard has taken the brave step of addressing Diablo III players on one of the game's apparent lack of replayability, which is acknowledged had disappointed the community.

"We recognise that the item hunt is just not enough for a long-term sustainable end-game. 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)" said a post by community manager Bashiok on the official forum.

"Honestly 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."

It went on to promise upcoming patches would "do a lot to give people things to do" but that other possible features, like progression systems, were "still a ways out."

"Hindsight is 20/20 I suppose, but we believed pre-release that the item hunt would be far more sustainable, and would work to be a proper end-game for quite a while. That didn't turn out to be true, and we recognise that."

31 Comments

Peter Dwyer
Games Designer/Developer

458 254 0.6
Yep. I stopped playing after defeating the game just once. I tried again with all the remaining characters but, three things sealed Diablo 3's fate for me.

1. The story is 100% the same no matter which character you choose.
2. All the characters felt more or less the same to play.
3. Always online and having to log in to play single player.

When all is said and done I think Blizzard will find out the hard way that they simply dropped the ball on this one. Pissing off their customers for some misguided anti-piracy measures and a short and infinitely annoying story (killing deckard cain, the only really established character, for christ sake!)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Peter Dwyer on 5th July 2012 8:53am

Posted:A year ago

#1
The third point ss very important for the big demographic of people who bought DIII out of nostalgia for the first two episode. As a busy 30 something father, the error 37 is unacceptable as it forbids me to play when I have a rare moment for playing.

Beside, the auction house warped the item drop balance is a very nasty way.

Posted:A year ago

#2
I stopped playing Diablo after 7 days of intense playing and exorcising it out of the system. There isnt really much more to do except the same, some might be worth saving for a rainy day months down the line

Now, if we could take Diablo 3 character into a Diablo MMO of sorts. That would be something to waste time with

Posted:A year ago

#3

Sarkhan Lyutfaliev
Senior Russian Localization Tester II

4 3 0.8
Diablo III simply has too many flaws compared to Diablo II. It's surprising to see such a buggy and badly designed game from Blizzard which usually releases top-notch quality titles.
Why they stripped out so many features that made Diablo II such an amazing experience is a mistery to me and I'm sure to many Blizzard/Diablo fans.

To name the top 3 biggest flaws of the game in my opinion:

1. Class balance is non-existent, where ranged clearly outgun melee classes. During several weeks Demon Hunters and Wizards were able to farm high-end items and ruin the economy of the game, while melee classes struggled to progress through Inferno. They tried to address this in the recent patches, but it was too little too late.

2. Game design is based around AH and RMAH, no matter what Blizzard says about it, it's just plain obvious to someone who played the game just enough to progress to Inferno - players forced to go to AH at some point in order to be able to gear their character properly to progress to the later stages of Inferno. Item drop rates are completely ridiculous and it's rare to see good items drop for your class during endless hours of grinding Inferno (they tried to address this in the latest patch, but again it seemed too late).

3. Completely failed launch (the first 2 weeks the game was nearly unplayable due to multiple server errors). Hacking/botting issues that persist to this date. This is unacceptable for the company of Blizzard size and reputation, running the biggest MMO in history of gaming with millions of players still playing.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Sarkhan Lyutfaliev on 5th July 2012 11:02am

Posted:A year ago

#4

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
The key is to play D3 as if you were a sane person. I started playing it a month after release, no longer than a few hours per week and I do not expect it to be my next 1000h per year hobby. Turns out, the game works just fine that way.

Posted:A year ago

#5
Well on a side note, parent company wants to cut acti-blizz pursestrings free. so i wonder if they will do as well, without access to the Mana

Posted:A year ago

#6

Emily Knox
Associate Designer

44 86 2.0
Klaus, I am also playing the game perhaps a few hours a week now. But I'm still experiencing the issues Sarkhan has raised. Those few hours a week are diminishing quickly.
The most common reason for me to prematurely quit D3 is due to connection issues, in the worst case I sometimes get disconnected at random, but more frequently I'm lagging behind the enemies in the game. Once you get on the harder difficulties these issues can make D3 impossible to play, even in a single player game. This has made a frustrating experience in comparison to what Diablo II offered in longevity and reliability.

Blizzard's support on the forums gives the impression they are prioritising game play and longevity issues over problems relating to latency and disconnecting, they believe more players are experiencing the former rather than the latter.
If they hadn't insisted on forcing players online all the time, even if they want to play alone, this issue simply wouldn't exist. It's an aggressive measure against piracy (or simply to promote the AH?) that has a severe impact on legitimate customers. (And that maximum 3 day wait just to 'verify' a digital purchase before you can play the full game?) I have no idea how much Blizzard believe they loose through piracy, but I really wonder if these measures are worth it. There are so many angry voices on the official forums.

Edit: I've got to admit my internet connection is really dreadful, but I didn't expect it to impact the single player combat so much. I've been able to play other games online on my PC and PS3 without these issues, so I just didn't anticipate these problems in Diablo.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Emily Knox on 5th July 2012 12:54pm

Posted:A year ago

#7

Michael Benfield
Senior Designer

15 12 0.8
The game requires an online connection to maintain the security of the save game data. If it was able to be played offline, the save data would have to be stored locally, which would make it very easy to hack. This would have ruined any semblance of online community as the game would be flooded with millions of the best of each item within days/hours of release. The most immediate casualty of this would be the auction house, but long term any one playing online would have their experience spoilt as the ‘looting’ gameplay would be compromised.

An obvious bonus to this system is that it combats piracy (no bad thing), but it’s not the sole reason for the requirement for an internet connection. They made the call that the multiplayer element was important enough to make concessions in single player functionality. Looking back on it I bet they wished they had implemented online and offline characters.

I get annoyed by the dreaded Error37 as much as anyone, but I can understand why they felt it was necessary.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Klaus Preisinger
Freelance Writing

953 804 0.8
Latency is not just Blizzard's problem, it is the players' problem as well. Blizzard can only control their server connection. If players choose to play over out of date DSL connections and 3G/4G surfsticks, then having latency is really their fault, not Blizzard's. Is your WiFi connection at home of questionable quality? You will never notice that while surfing, but games will drop out.

So far, I never had a single disconnect or high latency situation and I mostly play during peak hours.

If the always on copy scheme did one thing, though, then it attracted players who are way too serious about the game. I am neither bothered by cheaters, nor gold farmers, nor anybody else. I play this game for my enjoyment, not validation. i do not need to chase a carrot in a system that perfectly measures who the biggest donkey is.

If the game is over after X hours, I am also fine with that, go out in the world, buy another one.

@Michael Benfield
Sure, if you make the game all about who has the biggest stats on loot and attaining them is a simple function of time, then yes, "flooding" the market is a problem. But that is Blizzard's problem, it was their choice to make the game all about that. How does Codemasters make their games? Best rally car from the getgo? Not really a problem, is it? A customer should not suffer because of a games preference in design.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Klaus Preisinger on 5th July 2012 12:16pm

Posted:A year ago

#9

João Namorado
Project Manager

50 16 0.3
@Klaus
I play Diablo III over a 100 Gb fiber optics connection using a network cable to connect to the router. Lag issues are a constant in single player, sometimes to a level that reminds me of playing Quake multiplayer over 56 Kb connections. There is obviously an issue here, although it may not be felt by everyone.

Posted:A year ago

#10

Michael Benfield
Senior Designer

15 12 0.8
It's about understanding player motivations. They would have looked at a sample of their target audience (and I do wonder how many of those were WoW players VS players of the original Diablo games) and worked out what percentage were interested in peacocking (having the most shiny armour and showing it off to others) as an endgame mechanic VS those that were happy to finish the game and move onto something else.

With WoW a lot of the community aspect and cruicially the resulting game longevity is built around the acquiring of top tier items (purplez!) and they probably thought this could be applied (quite profitably using the RMAH) to Diablo 3. They then had to setup their systems (item drops/account security/AH) to support this.

Ultimately if a customer does suffer because of a game's design/art/code choices, either deliberate or accidental, it is unfortunate and likely to result in them not purchasing future product from that developer. (see every bad game ever)

Posted:A year ago

#11

Alex O'Dwyer
Animator

162 155 1.0
No one seems to understand that Diablo 3 is not an MMO. So when you beat it, you beat it.

You dont see stories about Assassins Creed having limited replayability, so why is D3 any different.

People pay for a linear story based game and then complain that it isn't infinitly replayable....??

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex O'Dwyer on 5th July 2012 2:41pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Nicholas Pantazis
Senior Editor

962 1,160 1.2
@ Alex I think it's actually you who don't understand. People played Diablo II for 10 years, and still play it today. The loot farm, and playing Inferno, are a very different beast from other singleplayer (or even multiplayer) RPGs. Heck, Diablo III's challenge doesn't even start until Nightmare difficulty.

Posted:A year ago

#13

James Prendergast
Research Chemist

730 410 0.6
Ha! Nice one, Klaus! And those stupid customers who bought games for computers that met the "minimum" specs on the back of the box only to find that they did not, in fact run very well or at all are also to blame for the problems they experience!

@Michael Benfield
"The game requires an online connection to maintain the security of the save game data. If it was able to be played offline, the save data would have to be stored locally, which would make it very easy to hack. This would have ruined any semblance of online community as the game would be flooded with millions of the best of each item within days/hours of release."

Yet, if as you conclude in the final sentence of your post, they had implemented offline- and online-only characters this hacking would not have been a problem either! Who cares if you hack your single player game world? Make it so achievements were only for online games and you're even better off!

Posted:A year ago

#14
Just as a side node: maybe the possibility of cheating in DII is part of the long term sustainability of the game. If the game is too hard, just "make" a few good items to lessen it. It's getting to easy? Remove a few. The difficulty of the game was in the hand of the players.

The first month in DIII was the complete opposite. You were forced to play content which was simply too difficult (at least for some classes), die several hundred times (because of the "death penalty" there were situations i spent more time waiting to get resurrected than i actually played), to get the items you simply need to stay alive. Or go to the ah/rmah. Or just quit. I could bet many voted for the last option ...

Posted:A year ago

#15

Dave Knudson
Sr. Technology Manager

42 7 0.2
For me the Auction House really killed the item hunt aspect. In a playthrough and a half, I have used exactly one item that was found/crafted in game.

I agree with @Klaus Preisinger though, that if you play the game like a sane person or even just avoid the auction house, the game has more re-playability.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Alex O'Dwyer
Animator

162 155 1.0
There's probably more important things out there to be bothered about.....

Posted:A year ago

#17

Kenneth Liu
Staffing Consultant

1 2 2.0
I challenge anyone on here to carry on playing the game after losing a Hardcore L60 player (+loot) to lag...

Blizz - you failed so bad with this game.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Rod Oracheski
Editor

58 23 0.4
Itemization is terrible, that's the biggest problem I have with it. Until 60 you're never finding items that are level-appropriate, they lag behind by 10-15 levels. The game seems to peak at Hell difficulty and Inferno is just a '10x enemy health, 10x enemy damage, and add three new suffix/prefix powers' rush job.

Posted:A year ago

#19

Hugo Dubs

164 24 0.1
Assassin's creed is a one character game. In the opposite, DIII is a multiple playable characters to play with in order to create "infinite" possibilities. This means that you're supposed to get different gameplay options (long range / short range combat avatar for example)

Assuming this, if your player doesn't replay the game, so you designed and developed (animated to take you as an example) multiple characters for nothing. This is a waste of money and time and this is not what blizzard is looking for. Here is the difference with AC and DIII.

To make players replay the game, you got to bring them something new to be intersted in, a different story is a good example ;)

Posted:A year ago

#20

Alex O'Dwyer
Animator

162 155 1.0
Whats the fascination with replay.......I loved Skyrim but I have no desire to play it again. Same goes for mass effect, dragon age. Some people will play it over and over, I for one will take the experience I get from all the possibilities I am offered.

In dragon age the variaety was great, not because if I had played it again it would be a different experience but because my experience was different to those of my friends. If it was the same every time though, it would in no way detract from the initial experience I had with the game.

To suggest it is a waste of their time to make the assets they did simply bacuase I only play as a demon hunter makes no sense. Because the options I pick won't be the ones other people choose, it's about choice in your initial play through. Not never ending variation and choice on the 1000th play through.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Alex O'Dwyer on 5th July 2012 5:17pm

Posted:A year ago

#21

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,371 1,017 0.7
@ Alex

Not trying to be disrespectful, so don't take it like that, but I don't think you understand the mindset of RPG fans. One of the ways we find enjoyment is through specialisation of characters and differing stories. How a mage is played is different to how a rogue is played which is different from melee and ranged fighters. It allows for a wide-range of options when playing, dependant on mood and how much of a time-sink we want the game to be. Occasionally we want to kite the big-bad, and occasionally we don't. Occasionally we want to focus on spells and staves, occasionally we just want to go two-handed barbarian.

RPGs not only allow for different playthroughs, they actively encourage it with different classes and weapon styles. So, when an RPG doesn't make the (role-playing-driven) player want to play again with a different class, looking for different loot, then something fundamental has gone wrong on either the design or implementation.

Posted:A year ago

#22

Hugo Dubs

164 24 0.1
You're right, and I agree with you. I also play most of the game once, even if they offer several gameplay experiences.
However, and there are probable a lot of argument to give, but replayability is a way to increase the game lenght, which is one of the critics grade point. People reading critics would better consider a game with 120 hours of gameplay than one similar with only 30.

The point here is that regarding DIII, whatever you play a monk or a demon hunter, there will be no difference in the story, so player wouldn't play different games. As you said it, you and your friends would have the same experience and this is why DIII lacks of replayable content.

Another thing, if it was only about your initial play choice, so game designer would just have to create an avatar that players could develop in their own way. No need to create separate classes don't you think? Unless there are differences in the story, in the content, or whatever they think would be valuable for players.

Posted:A year ago

#23

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,371 1,017 0.7
whatever they think would be valuable for players.
Players do find a lot of (what some people might think random and pointless) things valuable. One comment about the Game of Thrones RPG recently released was that a playable character should be able to be a two-handed fighter, but no option is available for that. Which leads to disappointment, and the belief that developers don't fully understand either the genre they're developing, or the demographic they're marketing to. Both of which could be argued about Blizzard and D3.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th July 2012 5:49pm

Posted:A year ago

#24

Alex O'Dwyer
Animator

162 155 1.0
@Morville. Your assumption is all RPG players are the same. I play RPG's but by you definition I am not an RPG player.......Simply because I don't agree with the vocal majority.

I played Dragon Age Origins for 120 hours on the first play through. Why on earth would I do that again!!!

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Alex O'Dwyer on 5th July 2012 5:59pm

Posted:A year ago

#25

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,371 1,017 0.7
No, not all RPG players are the same. :) But, using Dragon Age: Origins as an example, playing an Elf alters the prologue. Playing a Mage alters it again. Those are material changes to the game. Then, add in player choice of melee or ranged fighter, and you have something which alters tactics. Then there's choices (did you side with the Werewolves?).

It does depend upon how much of a role-player you are, but it can go deeper. Min-Maxing classes. DPS. Loots. All these things make the real hardcore RPG players want to replay a game. Now ask yourself why D3 players aren't replaying it.

Edit: My DA:O run-through was about 120 hours too. Human Mage. I've been idling considering a run-through as an Elf... Something. :D

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th July 2012 6:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#26
I always wondered how the AH - which can only work if you really *need* special items - would work with what is effectively a single-player styled game. Sure getting all the way to the very end (beating Hell on Hardcore) would be insanely difficult - but is there enough point to even try?

With the way Blizz have structured/developed the entire thing - it seems to be the primary "revenue" focus was definitely the RMAH. Otherwise they wouldn't be doing everything in their power to convince people not to buy copies of the game.

I finished the Starter edition, and I doubt I'll ever be back. 3 of my work buddies are addicted to the game, and multiplay every night ... but I don't know how long they can keep it up, before running out of game.

...

The D3 killer for me, is that the "game" seems to be vastly inferior to D2 in every way (except probably for the gfx). Maybe we can wait for the sequel...

Posted:A year ago

#27

Zidaya Zenovka
Blogger, Writer

41 8 0.2
All I know is, Torchlight II is going to be like a drink of cool, clear, refreshing water compared to Diablo III's parched desert wasteland, as far as loot and satisfying gameplay is concerned.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Ryan Locke
Lecturer in Media Design

45 6 0.1
There is little improvement over the gameplay offered by Baldurs gate: Dark alliance or Champions of Norrath

The innovations being made where more restrictive than progressive - action bars, RMAH and always online.

The story was not interesting, which, although the pretty CGI sequences are delicious.

Just for a slap of reality - this was released in 2001 Blizzard - it took you 10 years to top it? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srBRB18mHEs

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ryan Locke on 6th July 2012 10:20am

Posted:A year ago

#29

Benjamin Crause
Supervisor Central Support

74 33 0.4
Blizzard was very out of touch with D3.
It is quite bad compared to D1.
The CGI is some of the best you can get at the moment but that really is it.
The story could have been told much better.
Everyone found out the game does not have any long-term content to enjoy after they played trough once.
After that it is just grinding and item collecting (how entertaining...).
Many of my friends played it together, we had groups with voice chat and beat the game together. After that, almost all of us stopped playing it for a good reason.

Posted:A year ago

#30
I am so sad, Blizzard made this franchise a pool of nonsense decisions

Posted:A year ago

#31

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