Diablo Immortal offered Blizzard an opportunity to break with mobile gaming trends. Instead, it embraced the most exploitative and harmful aspects of mobile gaming’s pay-to-win culture.
Since Diablo Immortal’s release some weeks ago, the conclusion has been clear: Pay-to-win is, without a doubt, a feature of Diablo Immortal’s gameplay.
Diablo Immortal’s microtransactions were well-known at the time of its release. As a result of the fact that the game is free-to-play, there is no barrier to the plot or the key features. In order for Blizzard to stay afloat, it had to generate money on Diablo Immortal somehow, but it wasn’t obvious how the company would commercialise what it called the most “ambitious” Diablo game yet. A battle pass, a premium currency, and a variety of paid cosmetics were all expected to be included in the game. However, the importance of money in Diablo Immortal’s endgame progression and the edge it offers you over other players was not made obvious, and this was something that Blizzard neglected to explain.
Legendary Crests and Legendary Gems are at the centre of the matter. So, as you can see, some Legendary Gems are far more powerful and rare than others. With greater Resonance, a stat that increases the life and damage of items, these 5-Star Legendary Gems are far superior to 1- and 2-Star Legendary Gems. When it comes to jewels and Resonance, the more, the merrier for the gamer. You also want to upgrade them as many times as possible in order to further enhance their abilities.. In order to upgrade gems, salvaged Legendary Gems must be used, and in order to upgrade a higher level gem, hundreds of the same sort of gem must be used.
The problem is that Legendary Crests are the only way to gain these highly sought-after and immensely strong jewels. Elder Rifts and the purchase of crests ensure that a Legendary Gem will be dropped if used in combination with the crest. Legendary Crests also have a 5% chance of spawning a 5-Star Legendary Gem.
For free-to-play players or those who simply acquire the Battle Pass and one or two one-time packages, there will be only a few Legendary Crests at the conclusion of the game. Spending more money is the only way to make more money. If you’re a free-to-play player, you’re limited to utilising Rare Crests, which don’t even guarantee you’ll get any kind of Legendary Gem when finishing an Elder Rift. It’s reasonable to assume that players who don’t use Legendary Crests will have to wait weeks or months before they see any progress in one of the most important aspects of character development: acquiring Legendary Gems.
It’s evident what’s going on here. Purchases of several Legendary Crests will result in a greater number of Legendary Gems and 5-Star gems than those made by players who simply purchase the battle pass. Paying gamers will always have an advantage over free players because of this. Free-to-play gamers can get 5-Star Legendary Gems by crafting, but the process is time-consuming, resource-intensive, and so dependent on chance that it’s not worth the effort.
By a considerable margin, players who spend money will be more powerful than those who don’t. If this simply extended to Diablo Immortal’s PvE content like dungeons, raids, and the Challenge Rift leaderboards, that would be one thing. In addition, Diablo Immortal’s unique Cycle of Strife system sets two player factions against one another, as well as PvP battlegrounds, which are a key feature of the game. Legendary Gem effects and Resonance bonuses to stats provided by these gems are not capped in PvP, meaning that free-to-play players will be utterly annihilated if they have decked out in the game’s strongest 5-Star Legendary Gems (which can only be obtained by spending money), which is the case.
Many mobile and free-to-play RPGs have already included these kinds of paid systems. For example, Genshin Impact is a hugely popular free-to-play game. Gamers can invest real money in order to get uncommon characters and weapons that are far superior to those that are available to free-to-play gamers. This is known as the gacha system. Diablo Immortal’s “free to play” game, Lost Ark, contains an in-game store where players can buy the resources needed to enhance their gear. These two games differ from Diablo Immortal in that Genshin Impact focuses solely on PvE, while Lost Ark strives to provide an even playing field for players in both PvP and PvE modes.
In terms of popular free-to-play RPGs, Diablo Immortal regrettably isn’t an exception. It doesn’t do anything that hundreds of other cash-extracting mobile apps haven’t done. It’s not even the first time the Diablo franchise has used microtransactions like this. As part of Diablo III’s launch in 2012, Blizzard incorporated an auction house where players could sell in-game goods for real money, with a tiny percentage going to the publisher. The auction house became a need for many players as the game’s difficulty increased and progress dragged. In response to user complaints, Blizzard decided to completely eliminate the auction house from Diablo III.
Diablo Immortal, which includes an auction house where players can sell items like Legendary Gems to one another via a special currency that is acquired with another premium currency purchased with real money, is Blizzard not only failing to learn from the mistakes of the franchise’s past but appears hellbent on repeating them. As a whole, Diablo is all about killing many demons, acquiring more powerful gear, and advancing your character to take on ever more difficult tasks. If you can just purchase your way to success through Legendary Crests or the game’s auction house, it undermines the whole spirit of what Diablo is all about.
First revealed at BlizzCon 2018 as mobile-only, Diablo Immortal was received with significant dissatisfaction from fans, many of whom wondered whether the game’s announcement was an out-of-season April Fool’s prank and if the game will also be available on PC. “Do you not have phones?” Blizzard demanded, as though gamers were the ones who were out of touch. It’s fair to say that a large chunk of the negative reaction to Blizzard’s botched announcement of Diablo Immortal was prompted by the disappointment of PC-centric Blizzard fans who had hoped to see Diablo IV, but were instead given something entirely different. A fully commercialised, pay-to-win Diablo game seemed like an antithesis of all Blizzard stood for.
Part longstanding Diablo and Blizzard fans, like myself, hoped that Blizzard would utilise Diablo Immortal to break mobile gaming trends and instead create a polished, freemium application that fans of the brand would be proud of, and some of that came to pass.. No doubt about it, Diablo Immortal is a lot of fun. For a free phone game, it’s got some impressive production quality and controls. Playing the game’s main plot without spending a penny is doable for casual gamers. Nevertheless, Blizzard is capitalising on this fact for Diablo Immortal, which begins after the main storyline has been completed.
Diablo Immortal’s biggest flaw isn’t its microtransactions or even the fact that it’s a pay-to-win game. Blizzard decided to accept the platform’s worst practices instead of leveraging Diablo’s premiere on mobile to propel the mobile RPG scene ahead like Blizzard has done with various genres throughout time. Because of the game’s “pay-to-win” design, Diablo Immortal’s Legendary Gems may cost as much as $80,000 (according to one player’s estimation). Bundle deals that start at $1 and feature “value” percentages of 800% are used to entice gamers. As the game progresses and new bundles are unlocked, the price of the existing bundle’s increases. In order to provide players who are ready to pay money a leg up on those who thought they could compete with just a battle pass, the game offers three unique paid services. Endgame advancement centres around unlocking increasingly expensive loot boxes using keys that can also be unlocked with a special currency purchased with a premium paid currency. Infinite possibilities exist in this regard. A severe issue arises when people bombard the game’s chat with requests to establish groups with other “whales” (free-to-play gamers who spend a lot of money relative to the typical player).
Blizzard’s plan appears to be working in the free-to-play mobile gaming industry, and there is little doubt about that. Even though Diablo Immortal has been banned in two European countries and has been delayed indefinitely in China, the game has nevertheless managed to make an estimated $24 million in its first two weeks of release (the game will arrive in other Asian markets on July 7). To demonstrate how ridiculous Diablo Immortal is, people are spending hundreds of dollars each week on it. Diablo Immortal’s prized 5-Star Legendary Gems cost one prominent streamer about $16,000 in US dollars, yet he promptly destroyed it, deleted his character, and uninstalled the game in protest.
In order to make a statement, some streamers have spent thousands of dollars on Diablo Immortal (which is hypocritical, but it doesn’t change the reality that many of these broadcasters have discretionary wealth). Using a game like Diablo Immortal, people may attract attention by spending thousands of dollars and then deleting their characters when they become bored. Diablo Immortal is a game that most people can pick up for a few bucks, play for a while, and then go on with their life. Diablo Immortal’s predatory microtransactions and predatory mechanics don’t exist for a small percentage of gamers with gambling and addiction problems. Diablo Immortal is a textbook illustration of how mobile gaming methods like this harm players who can’t afford to throw hundreds or thousands of dollars down the drain but feel obligated to do so anyhow–and are in many ways pushed to do so. There’s no escaping the reality that Diablo Immortal’s revenue strategy is predatory despite the game’s apparent financial success. In reality, the financial success of Diablo Immortal serves as another piece of evidence.
Is there a chance that Diablo Immortal’s monetization model may alter over time? Yes, they most likely will, given the unfavourable public impression of the game’s PvP environment and the prevalence of pay-to-win mechanics. Fans of Blizzard and Diablo alike aren’t exactly thrilled with the current condition of Diablo Immortal. Though Diablo III’s failings haunted them for years, Blizzard was able to do this right the first time. Blizzard’s reputation and the Diablo franchise as a whole have been harmed as a result of this incident.
As a 2022 gamer, Diablo Immortal was among my most anticipated releases. It was a dream come true for me to see a free-to-play game that incorporated the greatest parts of both Diablo and MMOs like Blizzard’s World of Warcraft into a single experience. New PvP mechanisms like the Cycle of Strife, which have never been seen before in a Diablo game, were exciting to me.” Having a group of buddies to help me through dungeons, rifts, and raids was an exciting prospect for me. I couldn’t wait to see Diablo in a fresh light. It was a disappointment to see that Diablo Immortal was nothing more than a devil disguised as an enjoyable Diablo game, albeit one presently tainted by the all-pervasive dollar.