New hit Blizzard mobile game Diablo Immortal is facing backlash for its pay-to-win tactics, with players forking out up to $150,000 to fully upgrade characters.
Diablo Immortal, a new release from legendary games company Blizzard in collaboration with Chinese mobile giant Netease, launched last week.
It’s the latest entry in the equally famous series which depicts heroes of the world of Sanctuary fighting back the eternal hordes of demons and monsters that threaten it.
What it traditionally has not been about is buying your way to power and glory through microtransactions, and some fans are concerned that’s exactly what this edition does best.
It should be noted that the early game of Diablo Immortal (the first 30 hours or so) are reported to be perfectly pleasant. Minimal requests for extra money, no time-gating, easy to progress, and enjoyable to play. “The best gameplay I’ve had on mobile,” was tossed around in a few user reviews. It’s fast paced, action-packed, even fun.
This extends to some elements of that endgame, such as doing rifts, procedurally generated dungeons for whacking enemies and getting loot. Being able to jump in and do so at a moment’s notice via a device in your pocket has been well-received. Fans of the previous installment, Diablo 3say they’re enjoying it as an alternative to that.
Clearly, Blizzard and Netease have done something right, as the game has topped charts on iOS and Android platforms worldwide, including in the US.
A whopping 30 million players registered interest for the ongoing beta and while we’re talking anecdotals, the Twitter mentions aren’t the hellfire you’d expect for a poorly received Blizzard game.
Here it comes: Purpose.
But, huge numbers of players are absolutely enraged by the state of the game. It was never going to be well received, as a mobile spin-off of a popular game series and one with a poor announcement and marketing strategy. However, this has been redoubled by what has been dubbed pay-to-win monetization methods that include costs of up to more than $150,000 to max one character, per Game Rant.
This comes down to the endgame currency, legendary gems, using a gacha-within-a-gacha system, making the best possible ones incredibly rare. You can get access to these gems for free, but only a certain number of them per month. Fine, you can spend six-figures speeding up the PvE portion of a game, worse things have happened – unfortunately, Diablo Immortal also has a PvP mode, where your purchases are perfectly legal and make you a favourite.
In addition, the combined gacha systems mean that none of this is actually guaranteed. You could get very lucky and end up in a good spot, you could have to spend way more than this. Indeed, one streamer dropped $US4000 ($A5500) and came out the other end with nothing they wanted.
It has led to a carpet-bombing of the game’s user metacritic score, as reported by VGC. Hardly the most important metric, but certainly a symbol of happiness and intent from a wide gaming audience.
Then again, to loop it back, how many of those people are actually playing? The subreddit – one of the few places to discuss the game in any sort of capacity, as there are no official forums – is around 50/50 with posts decrying the game’s microtransactions and those saying they’re enjoying it.
A key factor in doing so seems to be committing to not being ‘competitive’ (in PvP or playing high-end content as fast as possible) and not burning yourself out playing too much per day, as seen in these twothreads.
Time will tell how immortal goes down in history. For now, a lot of people are playing, a lot of people are enjoying, and a lot of people are hating. All of them seem to have a point to make.