- Despite initial hype and record sales, Diablo 4 is facing significant challenges in retaining its player base.
- Data from TwitchTracker suggests a drastic drop in viewership, from a peak of 941,000 viewers to a low of 621 viewers.
- The game's future remains uncertain, with some speculating it may need a complete overhaul to revive its fortunes.
"Fool's gold" is a term used to describe something that only looks alluring but is, for all intents and purposes, worth next to nothing. And, while Diablo 4 isn't without its merits, when stacked against its predecessors and competition, it's starting to look like the odd man out.
Mind you, this isn't just us whispering hateful statements, like Mephisto is probably doing now to Neyrelle as he seeks a way to revive himself and presumably the other two Prime Evils, Diablo and Baal.
The numbers, specifically from Twitch, tell of a cautionary tale of how a game can quickly crash and burn.
As pointed out by u/thepixelists on Reddit, TwitchTracker, which, as per the name suggests, tracks the number of users that are viewing streams of a particular game. In Diablo 4's case, the numbers have dropped significantly to an all-time low of 621 viewers within the past 24 hours, which is from an impressive peak of 941,000 viewers on its debut and rock bottom compared to its numbers just a few days ago.
The relaunch of Season 1 did see an uptick, with average viewers clocking in at around 38,000. Still, this number pales in comparison to its initial reception. To put this into context, Path of Exile, a competing action role-playing game, enjoys an average of 18,000 viewers three weeks into their new league, a respectable figure given its 5,400 average viewership a month before the league launch.
For many dedicated aRPG enthusiasts, these numbers reveal a sobering reality about Diablo 4. The key issue lies in the game's watchability, or the lack thereof. While numerous players do somehow still find find enjoyment in the gameplay, it's not just that fun to watch. The loot-driven excitement, a signature component of the earlier Diablo games, is notably absent. In past iterations like Diablo 2 and Diablo 3, the thrill of witnessing rare item drops kept the viewers and players alike hooked, with every piece potentially revolutionizing their gaming experience.
Unfortunately, Diablo 4 appears to have diluted this vital aspect of gameplay.
In Diablo 4, loot feels strangely inconsequential. The likelihood of obtaining an item that markedly enhances gameplay is minuscule. The endgame, which should ideally offer the most compelling loot and challenges, feels empty and barren. The absence of compelling dungeons, challenging bosses, and diverse loot makes the experience monotonous, both for players and viewers.
In contrast, Diablo 3 had managed to strike a balance that made it possible for players to invest considerable hours into a season, enjoy a sense of achievement, and then take breaks until the next season, with surprises like the goblin shrine or rainbow rift breaking the monotony. Moreover, the itemization of Diablo 2 set such high standards that discussions about its merits, vis-à-vis its expansion, Diablo 2: Lord of Destruction, remain pertinent even decades later.
In a way, Diablo 4 has lost the soul that once made the series such a revered name. The consensus among a significant portion of the Diablo fanbase is that the game has become a cash cow for Activision Blizzard, prioritizing aesthetics and advertising over solid gameplay mechanics.
The current state of Diablo 4, especially juxtaposed against Path of Exile, paints a grim picture. Path of Exile's gameplay boasts an array of content, with streamers often showcasing unique builds and diverse in-game activities, ensuring that viewers witness a fresh experience with every stream. Diablo 4, on the other hand, appears years away from reaching such dynamism and depth.
Things are only going to get a lot worse for Diablo 4 as its second season doesn't inspire much confidence at all. It will likely take multiple seasons for Diablo 4 to correct the course. By then, you can't help but wonder, will people still be interested? Path of Exile 2 will launch two years from now. It might not kill Diablo 4, but it's probably only because the game will be dead already by then.
Despite its record-setting sales, the majority of Diablo 4's player base has drafted away, choosing not to invest further in the game's content.
Diablo 4 had all the potential to reign supreme in the aRPG genre. Yet, like the Prime Evils, it was blinded by their own ambitions, faltering at the foundational level.
At this point, we can't rule out Blizzard possibly overhauling Diablo 4, similar to what Square Enix did with Final Fantasy 14 with the help of Naoki Yoshida. A decade later, Final Fantasy 14 is one of the most popular MMORPGs in the world, eschewing the free-to-play trend completely to march to the beat of its own drum.
Either way, with a restless fanbase yearning for the golden days of Diablo, the road to redemption for Diablo 4 is a long and uncertain one.