Blizzard commits to making Diablo 4 a "better game"

Blizzard Entertainment might have just said that they understand where they fell short but the way they said it casts doubt on Diablo 4's future.

Season of Blood sets an awful precedent for future seasons of Diablo 4 being just reskins of older seasons.
Season of Blood sets an awful precedent for future seasons of Diablo 4 being just reskins of older seasons.

When Rod Fergusson, the Diablo general manager, stepped into the spotlight during Gamescom 2023, fans around the world leaned in, eager to hear the studio's response to the initial backlash of Diablo 4's debut season.

"One of the things we recognised early on was that we had made some sort of mistake in managing expectations," he admitted in an interview with GamesRadar+. Blizzard's intent was to move quickly, to be agile in its feedback response. However, this rapid cadence seemed to have come at the expense of full solutions. The result? An unfinished product.

Blizzard's historical success with the Diablo franchise is no secret. From the cult following of Diablo 2 to the commercial success of Diablo 3, expectations for the fourth installment were undoubtedly high. A live service model means that the game should continuously evolve, offering fresh content and features. But, for many, it appeared that as if Blizzard took several steps backward with the debut season - the glaring omissions and issues, particularly ones previously resolved in its earlier titles, were difficult to ignore.

It's clear that Blizzard had an idea on what to do with Diablo 4, it's just that it didn't mesh well with what the franchise has always been about.

Make no mistake, Diablo 4 lived up to the hype - at launch. It outsold every other Blizzard title before it. Historically, it's one of the fastest-selling games ever as well. It's one of the best games to come out this year, both in the eyes of critics and fans. It has a single-player campaign that absolutely nailed the feel that Diablo had been missing since Diablo 2. The main problem lies when you circle back to Blizzard's promise of Diablo 4 being a live-service title.

For ARPG enthusiasts, it's not just the story that makes the meat of the game - it's the post-campaign and the endgame genre, which serve as the real essence of the experience. It's the time when players spend countless hours hunting for the perfect gear, tweaking their belts, and facing off against the game's toughest opponents. 

Yet, it feels like Diablo 4's post-campaign was an afterthought than a priority, which only made the glaring lack of new additions in its initial season worse. 

The mistakes the Diablo 4 development team are making suggest that they weren't huge fans of the series beforehand.

One way of framing what Fergusson just said is the implication that Blizzard is blaming fans for asking too much. And, while the Diablo 4 community, especially the many social media groups, pages, and forums, as well as r/Diablo4, have become a cesspool of toxicity where people spend just as many hours grinding as they do bashing Blizzard, the truth remains that Diablo 4 came out in an incomplete state. The hallmark of Diablo is its endgame content and gameplay, both of which were severely lacking in Diablo 4. It's not enough for Diablo 4 to have a compelling single-player story, it has to give players enough reason to stick around and justify spending that much time clearing through the storyline and beating Lilith. 

However, if history teaches us anything, it's that, just like the never-ending nature of the three Prime Evils, games can rebound given time. Diablo 3's challenging launch and subsequent redemption is a testament to that. The game faced a wave of criticism, leading to significant changes in the game's direction and leadership. The result? A game that, over time, lived up to its pedigree.

Now, players feel bittersweet having to say goodbye to Diablo 3 following its latest update

Recovering will be a tall ask for Blizzard but it's bound to happen - the only question is, will players still give Diablo 4 a shot when it does?

But, for Diablo 4, the question remains: how long will it take for Blizzard to pivot and recapture the magic? Season 2 is a wash at this point, failing to make an impact in its initial announcement. Season 3 likely isn't it either, with Blizzard only recently hiring someone to help it plan out the future of Diablo 4. 

Make no mistake, Blizzard is trying. Season 2, in particular, will come with several Quality of Life improvements. Still, it's hard not to wonder why Blizzard is waiting for October to release them. Shouldn't improvements come to the base game whenever they're ready?

The way these things work should be that improvements arrive with regular patches while the bigger content updates are relegated to new seasons. 

After what has happened, Blizzard doesn't deserve the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Blizzard's challenge is not just in delivering a competent ARPG. It's about living up to a legacy. For many, Diablo isn't a game simply about slaying demons and collecting loot. It's about the experience, the community, and the shared history. 

Whether or not Blizzard realizes its mistakes or it's simply apologizing for the sake of it remains to be seen. For the sake of the franchise's rich history and its dedicated fanbase, one can only hope that it's the latter.

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  1. They do NOT care about the players opinion, saying that they are trying to save the game in its current state is BS. It's all about player retention, if they can pull this off till they release the next bell or whistle then they have accomplished their goal. If they really want to do what there claiming, then they will fix the biggest problem since launch... Live service. Next, they need to make the game fun across the board. bring back the mighty stats the slaughter fest of destroying demons and shorter tracks to success. the gold cost to reroll gear is astronomical. Here's the sad truth none of these core things will happen because it breaks the main line goal.

    1. For real. I wanted this game to be amazing and it did seem like it at first. They don't care about the players, just making profit.

  2. I got the game at launch. I loved it. Come the first season, however... I grew sour. They have made far too many mistakes and too many pushes to screw over the player base to be forgiven. I went back to playing Diablo 3.

Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5873

Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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