Published: Published Date – 12:45 AM, Mon – 13 June 22
By Aditya Deshbandhu
A nuanced discussion into the brouhaha surrounding games such as Diablo Immortal. Last week saw the launch of Diablo Immortal, an iconic franchise that embraced both free2play (F2P) and cross-platform gaming; a trend increasingly common across the gaming industry as most developers look at mobile and casual sites of play as a promised land.
As franchises like Mario, Pokémon, Diablo, Need for Speed, and Call of Duty have tried to forge their own unique ways of going mobile, with versions of games that serve as both free-to-access and revenue-generating platforms – with Diablo Immortal’s extremely expensive loot-box and purchase mechanics the gaming industry is once again enveloped in an endless debate of what it costs players to be the best in an F2P game.
Players from across the world have raised concerns in overwhelming numbers about the exorbitant sums Immortal (approx. 100,000 USD) requires its players to spend if they desire to be the best, while at the same time the game’s makers have celebrated the 10 million download figure that the game has touched.
The players call the makers’ celebrations tone-deaf and wonder if the magic of their beloved franchise is now used to fuel Blizzard’s financial greed.
This week’s article comes in the midst of this polarizing debate as reviewers from across the world have had to re-examine their reviews of Immortal as the game’s ratings slump on crowd-sourced rating platforms like Metacritic.
I would like to begin by saying that I stand by my score (3.6/5) and verdict that Immortal has the potential to be a great game but its pay-2-win mechanics need to be balanced. Any score lower than that would be difficult and dishonest considering the game does offer players the opportunity to experience a detailed journey with solo, multiplayer, and co-op modes across platforms and is in my experience an “undiluted” Diablo experience.
The game’s single player campaign can be ground out in a couple of weeks by regular players without spending an ounce of real-world money and that should count for something.
Secondly, loot boxes, advergaming, and pay2win mechanics are a key part of most games that are not shooting based and often the quality of gear impacts in-game performance and in a game like Diablo where achieving the best possible gear is a big part of The journey micro-transactions were bound to be inherently linked with these mechanics.
It would be both naïve and unbecoming of us as followers of F2P games to expect anything different. So much so, that the gacha mechanics in everyone’s favorite game from this genre -Genshin Impact are nearly identical to the gear, gem, and rift mechanics in Immortal – thus, it’s important to ask, why is Genshin celebrated and Immortal being ridiculed?
To classify a game that allows its players to enjoy 25, 30 hours of gameplay for free top-notch game experience as a money-grab initiative is to club it in the same category with games that become unplayable without the first purchase in less than 30 minutes. Diablo’s grind doesn’t inhibit your in-game narrative progression, it only impedes your global ranking. While that isn’t a perfect mechanism, it definitely isn’t broken and unplayable.
There’s a lot more that will be said in this regard as more franchises embrace F2P dynamics. However, it is important to remember that not all games enjoy the popularity of PUBG and Fortnite, and most of them need to make money for the years and resources spent in developing and maintaining these games.