Why I play: Diablo III – From pre-release to Reaper of Souls
I have a hard time believing that Diablo III’s May 15, 2012, more than a decade since publication. And that’s despite his reputation for being the black guy
sheep Soulstone of the mainline games, it has built a loyal following over the years. With Diablo IV Just on the horizon is the unfortunate reality that some of the negative feedback is often attributed to carryover systems Diablo III – Every perceived “dumbing down” of a system is blamed Diablo III. That’s a stigma this game will always carry, fair or not, and it set the tone for the product’s entire lifecycle, even as it set sales records.
Of course, in my estimation, the reaper of souls Expansion and patch 2.0 ultimately turned the game’s reputation around. The existing community is still enjoying this entry in the series. And with season 28 being unofficially dubbed “the final season” by its community, this is a good time to reflect on its wins, losses, and contribution to the genre as a whole. In the first of this two-part retrospective on the game, we cover the pre-release controversies and challenges that the real-money auction house brought with it, all in the service of explaining why I play this 11-year-old title.
While rainbows are a natural occurrence, the question of whether they should appear in Sanctuary has been the subject of much controversy: when Grimdark fans saw rainbows in the game’s early screenshots, chaos reigned.
The enraged video game YouTubers, fans, and game journalists in that early era were having an absolute meltdown; They thought it was a big departure from the dark art style of Diablo 1 And 2. The pre-release footage and art direction worried many players because the game looked more like it in those early footage and videos Warcraft as Diablo. The memorable set pieces in Diablo II, in contrast, were dark and gory, with dead villains being burned at the stake, headless guardsmen hung haphazardly from poles, and body parts piled high in blood-filled pits. All these things existed and exist in Diablo IIIbut the early pictures showed rainbows and colors.
To the hardcore Diablo II Fans, all of this was symbolic of how the game was “selling out” to reassure a larger audience, and whispers circulated on the forums that the game was being tailored for an eventual console release – which was considered a bad thing at the time.
But it wasn’t really rainbows and unicorns Diablo Fans had to worry: the auction house would eventually become a far bigger controversy.
As Blizzard argued at the time, the real-money auction house was an attempt to discourage players from using third-party trading sites to buy and sell items, while still allowing them to trade items and gear for builds. Journalists and players have been pointing out the issues that come with a real money trading feature long before release, but the development team has nailed the release date.
However, the controversy didn’t dampen the hype. If Diablo III Released in May, it claimed the undisputed honor of being the fastest-selling game of the time, selling 3.5 million copies in 24 hours. But anyone who breaks a cold sweat at the sight of the number 37 knows what came next: Error 37 (warning, harsh language). So many people tried to play that nobody was able to log in thanks to an authentication error. Despite Blizzard’s experience with servers and a huge beta test, the company’s infrastructure was nowhere near robust enough to handle the influx of players. Diablo Fans talked about the fiasco to this day; Even during the Diablo 4 beta, references to Error 37 surfaced in player conversations on the internet.
But along with the server issues, there were much deeper issues; As some have argued, the soul (stone) of the game had been damaged.
From a broken (auction) house
As predicted before the start, the Real Money Auction House has several injuries Diablo III’s Gameplay loop. Any ARPG fan knows why you play a game like this: to kill stuff and get loot. And that was still there Diablo III. The problem was that suddenly people could loot without killing stuff!
For those who might have forgotten how it worked, let me recap: the auction house allowed players to use real money to buy and sell items that other players found in the game. Some people bet on the system, but in the long run it hurt the spirit of the game. It short-circuited the part where players had to actually play the game to get cool stuff for their characters.
Before release, the developers boasted about their revolutionary difficulty mode, Inferno mode. It should really test a player’s build and items. I distinctly remember Blizzard saying how the devs tested it with some players, got their feedback on how difficult it was, and then increased the difficulty 12 times!
But the auction house has essentially trivialized this endgame. People just bought the items they needed, and players beat the difficulty faster than Baal Tal-Rasha could take on.
The shoddy itemization was another pain point in the game’s early days, as it was incredibly difficult to find perfect items for a class. There were so many variables; An item destined for a barbarian, for example, bizarrely added points for intelligence, which would have been enough to negate the item’s value both as a viable piece of gear and as something that could fetch some money on the real-money auction house close. On the other hand, these rare perfect items cost a lot of money. So for some people, the system became an RMT side hustle. And yes, some players really enjoyed this element of the game.
Unfortunately, the spirit of the game was clouded in the process. And Blizzard finally internalized the reality that if the game didn’t do anything, it would tarnish the franchise forever. You know Blizzard will usually act when MAUs are at stake… and it did.
So in the next part of this two-part series next week, we’ll be discussing what Blizzard did next – and how the game was “saved.”
https://massivelyop.com/2023/03/31/why-i-play-diablo-iii-from-pre-release-to-reaper-of-souls/ Why I play: Diablo III – From pre-release to Reaper of Souls