The declining Twitch viewership is a bad sign for Diablo 4

While live-service games often go through a mid-cycle crisis, Diablo 4 is already going through one just three months after it first came out.

Diablo 4 is past the point of players getting their pitchforks out - no one is bothering to defend it anymore.

Once a blockbuster franchise known for consuming hours of players' lives, Diablo 4's most recent entry has struggled to maintain traction. You don't need a magnifying glass to see the signs: low player base, a meager Twitch viewership, and discontent bubbling within the gaming community. The question that begs to be asked is: Is Diablo 4 dying already?

A quick search on the internet will lead you to discussions about the lackluster enthusiasm surrounding Diablo 4, even after Blizzard Entertainment dropped news about Season 2 out of nowhere at Gamescom 2023, and who can blame them?

Diablo 4's problems at launch have yet to be resolved. Making it past the level 60 mark makes everything else feel like a chore. Once the crowning achievement of every Diablo player, reaching max level in Diablo 4 is a fruitless endeavor. It's like crossing the finish line of a marathon you didn't enjoy running. The lack of dungeon variety, which often culminates in boss fights so poorly designed, doesn't help either. The overall Diablo 4 endgame gameplay experience extinguishes any ember of fun - a bad sign for a live-service title of a franchise whose entire gameplay loop revolves around, well, keeping players entertained for hours on end. If the game mechanics can't even keep your attention through the first season, there's a problem.

Season 2 of Diablo 4 holds promise, just not enough to bring the players back in droves.

It's not just about what the game lacks; it's also about what it used to have. Players who reveled in the chaotic joy of its predecessors, even the historically-awful-at-launch, Diablo 3, find its successor to be a hollow shell. The items aren't at all exciting, the dungeons repetitive, and Uber Lilith - let's not even go there. The shift from Diablo 3 to Diablo 4 seems to have lost that key ingredient that kept players engaged: fun. Sure, Diablo 3 had its growing pains, but many feel it eventually blossomed into a game worth the grind.

Right now, Diablo 4 feels like it's still waiting for that magical transformation, with the community largely skeptical if it will happen.

You could argue that some games are slow burns and need time to win over players. Except, Diablo 4 was supposed to be a wildfire, consuming everything in its path from day one - ironically, a wildfire was invertedly part of the game's initial marketing campaign.

In older Diablo games, the actual gameplay didn't start after beating Diablo but beating Lilith in Diablo 4 doesn't leave you much else to do.

The expectation wasn't just for a good game but for an exceptional one, especially when coming from a AAA developer like Blizzard. So when players say they had to scroll down considerably to find Diablo 4 on streaming platforms, or note that not a single big-time streamer is giving it airtime, those are not minor quibbles. Twitch is a litmus test for a game's popularity, and by that standard, Diablo 4 is fizzling out.

Even when taking a bird's eye view, the prognosis doesn't look good. Today, if a game doesn't perform, it risks getting cut, plain and simple. Do you remember what happened to Saints Row's developers?

While some think Blizzard's reputation for sticking by their projects may offer Diablo 4 some immunity, the patience of the management and board isn't infinite. The game isn't meeting performance metrics, and that's a fast ticket to budget cuts or worse. A game not fun to play is one thing; a game not fun to play and watch? That's a double whammy in the age of streaming and content creation.

Diablo 4 Season 1 is about to come to an end and it hasn't changed the minds of anyone yet.

All said, is Diablo 4 terminally ill? Probably not. It still has room to turn things around, much like its predecessor did. A colossal patch or overhaul could inject new life into this faltering behemoth. But let's not mince words here: it needs to be a Hail Mary of a patch that not only fixes existing issues but infuses the game with the joyous chaos that made older entries a hit.

Only time will tell if Diablo 4 can slowly "corrupt" its players into breaking out once again, much like how the Prime Evil constantly revive themselves after being imprisoned inside Soulstones, or if it's destined to be a lesson in how even giants can stumble.

But, for now, Diablo 4's chances of resurging is as good as Inarius' chance of getting back into High Heavens.

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Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5842

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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