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Blizzard admits to Diablo III's lack of endgame (yay!), doesn't know when expansion is coming (boo!)

Diablo III, it increasingly seems, is merely the breadless meat of its own game sandwich. Not long ago, a new set of security measures dictated that new owners of the digitally-downloaded version be downgraded to the limited Starter Edition for up to 72 hours. And now, after not allowing players to really start the game, it seems that Diablo III won’t let them enjoy the end of it either. Kind of.

Because you see, Blizzard (in an admittedly refreshing bout of honesty from a top-tier developer/publisher) had come clean and stated that Diablo III’s endgame content isn’t adequate. In that there just isn’t enough of it. Admirably open of them, particularly given that the statements were given in a public thread on the official Battle.net forums. But while Blizzard get points for humility, that honourable behaviour might only go so far in terms of satiating the baying Diablo community. The reason? Read said statement (from community manager Bashiok) below.

Above: This is not the statement. This is a screenshot

“We recognize 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). Killing enemies and finding items is a lot of fun, and we think we have a lot of the systems surrounding that right, or at least on the right path with a few corrections and tweaks. But 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.

“We're working toward 1.0.4, which we're really trying to pack with as many fixes and changes we can to help you guys out (and we'll have a bunch of articles posted with all the details as we get closer), and we're of course working on 1.1 with PvP arenas. I think both those patches will do a lot to give people things to do, and get them excited about playing, but they're not going to be a real end-game solution, at least not what we would expect out of a proper end-game. We have some ideas for progression systems, but honestly it's a huge feature if we want to try to do it right, and not something we could envision being possible until well after 1.1 which is itself still a ways out.” 

So, an acknowledgement of failure and a (sort of) pledge to fix it, but one tempered with a second acknowledgement that said fix might not come for a long time. Do you find this honesty heartening, or is it a bit like being stuck up a mountain, being offered a rescue dog, and then being told that said dog is currently only a puppy and so will have to grow up and be trained first?

Also, this whole thing does beg another question. You see in a follow-up post, Bashiok admitted:

“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 recognize that.”

Personally I find that a bit odd. In World of Warcraft, Blizzard runs the biggest MMO in the world. As a game developer it’s surely well-versed in statistical gameplay analysis, and thus I find it pretty damn confusing that it wouldn’t have seen this issue coming, either through pre-release testing or via live player data. Seems a strange issue for a company like Blizzard to be caught napping on, particularly given a) the speed that hardcore players get through new WoW expansions, and b) the amount of money Blizz stands to make out of Diablo III’s real-money auction house if it can keep high-level players grinding and farming long-term.

Surely being on top of this at launch would have been in everyone’s best interests, right? 

12 comments

  • ParagonT - July 8, 2012 2:10 p.m.

    Good to know, but that doesn't fix squat. They want an award or something?
  • ElwoodFiore - July 5, 2012 2:08 p.m.

    Seems the 1% were right, Blizzard north now (Runic Games) HAs torchlight 2 on everybodys radar. It may just be on par with diablo, then again its offline....and online.... and no rmah or ah period. that makes it better too me
  • ncurry2 - July 5, 2012 12:21 p.m.

    After logging over 100 hours on my barb and getting a wd up to 60, I really haven't had a reason to get on play. I don't feel compelled to at all. But I've already gotten that much play time out of it. It just sucks that unlike D2, I'm essentially done playing it.
  • Mooshon - July 5, 2012 10:25 a.m.

    Diablo 3 is very slick as games go but it is, and always was, purely a loot grindfest. Interestingly though the addition of the auction house seems to have killed the formula. The ease of availability of top gear kills a lot of the impetus you may have had for spending 20 hours in the clicking lucky dip. The most curious point though is that Blizzard obviously thought that the grind was enough on its own.
  • mockraven - July 5, 2012 10 a.m.

    I got two classes to inferno difficulty and got frustrated with the 1-2 hit deaths. I dropped a few million gold into gear since the later half of Act 1 and following Acts *absolutely* require resist all (in increasing value per act), vitality, and primary stat plus you'd preferably have some kind of life-on-hit or life regen in addition to that. That got too expensive, the drops from farming Act 1 were generally vendor trash, and it took almost 10 runs to find something semi-useful or sort of sellable. The game started to feel like a job in the end for me. All things said, I don't think I have the patience for the "end-game" stuff. Then again, maybe I'm not the only one as I don't see my friends online anymore either.
  • robertpopovic - July 5, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    I'd say that D3's "endgame" is a lot longer than D2's. Over there you could finish Hell and then just keep on mindlessly grinding cows and later Baal till 99 and that's it. In D3 you get to 60 and then you still have a lot of challenge left with the Inferno setting. Heck, my highest character is still 55 and in Hell. D3 feels a lot more challenging than D2.
  • Brumbek - July 5, 2012 6:25 p.m.

    Sigh...if you aren't even in Inferno yet, you can't possibly speak of D3's end-game...too many people defend D3's end-game before they even get to the end-game! Once you hit 60 and start Inferno, you will realize why D2 is so vastly more interesting at the end-game. In D3, you just look for 60+ Resist All, Vit, and Primary Attribute gear and ignore everything else. Also, weapon DPS is all that matters. Hence, the item hunt in Inferno is extremely terrible since 90% of items are literally useless.
  • mockraven - July 5, 2012 7:41 p.m.

    The very precise equipment requirement for "end-game" was definitely what turned me away. High effort for little gain just doesn't seem worth it to me. Some "decent" gear would drop but since it was missing one of the mandatory 3 stats it was pretty much worthless (as in won't sell in the AH) and useless vs the Inferno enemies. You don't think about farming for legendaries so much as some blue or yellow item that will keep you from dying in one hit and anything below 900DPS in a weapon is considered undesirable (and even 900 is considered a bit "mediocre" in DPS, even though the highest I found was ~600). Also the way damage works like in your youtube video has gotten me killed a few times -- I'd use Vault with my DH and would die as soon as the animation ended from a melee hit that happend off-screen by that point.
  • Redeater - July 5, 2012 8:08 a.m.

    I stopped after I hit level 12. I don't think it's a bad game I just think it can be incredibly boring. I'll probably pick it up again after I finish with FF13-2
  • Brumbek - July 5, 2012 6:30 p.m.

    Level 12 is about 1 hour in. You clearly didn't give the game a fair shake. The game is very, very good from Level 1 to about 55, so long as you enjoy Diablo style games. It is once you hit late Hell and all of Inferno that the game massively tanks since 90% of loot is way too weak and the enemies are way to cheap. Here's the real issue if you want to see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2G7L8WRQHsM
  • Metagross - July 5, 2012 8:07 a.m.

    D3 has a good bit of content..perhaps not as long as D2 but still long enough in it's own right to be fair..and the higher difficulties do provide a lot of extra playthrough time..or maybe it's just my poor skill. I expect a good 100 hours out of my 4 playthroughs of D3, Achieving about 30 so far and I'm only a third way through Nightmare Act II
  • Brumbek - July 5, 2012 6:28 p.m.

    Just wait until you get to Inferno...then see if you still find it fun. I also loved the game up to level 60. Then it takes a massive nosedive. Blizzard is pretty much admitting this. And I remember Diablo 2 quite clearly since I just replayed it and did a level 75 Sorceress. D3 end-game is simply terrible. I recommend you beat Hell then quit. You'll save yourself tons of disappoint and total rage.

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