It’s been less than a week since Blizzard released their highly-anticipated mobile title, Diablo: Immortal, and they’re already facing serious backlash from the fans. The game, while boasting a highly addictive and polished gameplay, also comes with a truckload of expensive microtransactions.
The community is currently divided into two camps – those who simply enjoy the game and all its free aspects, and those who see past the surface levels and are aware of all the game’s pay-to-win traps.
The Nature of Mobile Gaming
Before delving deeper into the game itself, it’s important to state one simple, but important fact. Diablo: Immortal, despite carrying the Blizzard name, is a mobile game through and through. But what does that mean?
If you’ve ever played a mobile game, you’ll know that they’re usually riddled with overpriced microtransactions designed to extract every last penny from the players. Those are usually games where the top spending players thrive, while the low spenders barely get by. The free players are there to pick up the scraps. The entire design of these games is centered around aggressive monetization to squeeze the most profit out of players, the gameplay is only secondary.
So how does this relate to Diablo: Immortal? Well, Diablo: Immortal has all these things that we’ve just described. It has a fluid gameplay that’s just good enough to capture your attention and all the microtransactions and predatory mechanics to suck you in to spend your hard-earned cash. Diablo: Immortal simply ticks all the boxes of your usual gacha mobile games.
If this is the case, then why are the fans disappointed?
It’s a Great Game, But There are Problems
After playing Diablo: Immortal and getting fully immersed into the gameplay, we must say that it’s an incredible game for what it is. In fact, Diablo: Immortal might have set a new standard for mobile gaming. The combat is fluid and the game works great both on mobile and on the PC client. The servers are packed and there’s a constant flow of players arriving daily. Blizzard have simply nailed the ARPG formula once again and the fans love it.
However, this is also the biggest problem with the game. It’s an incredible game until you realise all the pay walls that Blizzard intentionally built in.
For example, the game has a legendary gem system that dramatically boosts your character power. However, in order to get the best legendary gems and power them up, you have to pay real money. And to make it even worse, the in-game shop currency is incredibly expensive. To get a batch of 10 gems, you’ll have to spend over $20 in the shop.
These 10 gems can then roll between 1 star, 2 star or up to 5 star. As you can imagine, the odds of receiving a higher tier gem drastically decrease, and some have calculated the odds of receiving a 5 star gem to be around one in 2000. This is even worse when you start upgrading those same gems and quickly realise that it’s an endless loop of spending.
The game is great, but the monetization is simply brutal. This will turn off many fans of the Diablo franchise and many will return back to Diablo 3 or Diablo 2: Resurrected, where they can enjoy a quality ARPG for free.
How To Fix This
Blizzard have dug themselves into a hole they can’t escape now. They can’t lower the prices in the shop as that would anger all the people who already spent some money and it would devalue all their purchases. On the other hand, the current system is simply unsustainable for free-to-play players who are simply vital for any mobile game ecosystem.
What Blizzard could do is to increase the ways for free-to-play players to obtain resources in the game. They already have a season pass, but even that has additional layers that benefit the paying players.
One way to do this would be through frequent events. They could give weekly sign-in events, in-game events that would allow players to earn shop resources through grinding, but most of all, they should reduce some of the limitations for the free players. Waiting a whole month to buy 1 legendary gem stone, while paying players can buy an infinite amount simply makes no sense. Dropping this down to one week would be a good first step. And this is just one example, there’s a lot more they could improve.
Overall, Diablo: Immortal is still a massive success. Despite the review bombing and all the public outrage, thousands if not hundreds of thousands are playing and spending large amounts of money in the game. Even some of the biggest streamers on Twitch have dumped thousands already and continue to dump more in their legendary gem chase.
Blizzard has probably already earned more money from Diablo: Immortal than from a whole year worth of subscriptions on their other games. The money train simply won’t stop now. Their game might have been banned in countries such as Belgium and the Netherlands, but this really didn’t do much in the grand scale of things.
As we already said, the community is divided into two camps. What Blizzard needs to do is to bridge the gap between these two groups of fans and bring some semblance of balance. The game has a lot of potential and it’s really well done, but even that won’t be enough unless Blizzard changes their approach.
Right now, all the complaints seem to be falling on deaf ears, but we do expect Blizzard to release some sort of announcement soon. Hopefully sooner than later. Until then, some will continue playing, while others will quit until the game improves.