The Diablo franchise returned to the gaming industry last month. Diablo 4 received impressive reception from critics and the general public. This helped it become the fastest-selling Blizzard game.
However, the game has recently faced backlash for various decisions. The recent patch introduced nerfs to various classes, leading to a wave of review bombs on Metacritic. Mark Kern, the Diablo 2 Producer, has also shared his opinion after the recent outcry.
According to the former Diablo developer, live service games make bad decisions on purpose for maximum profits.
Why it matters: Despite its popularity, the live service genre has proven to be controversial. However, many companies like PlayStation continue to pursue the genre as an important part of the industry’s future.
“We know it’s not fun”
“people were blasting through content”
This is the curse of live service games.
You make deliberate bad design decisions to milk the money/keep active users high.
It should be okay to finish a game. But that’s a non optimal profit outcome. https://t.co/oMfZDgZSHd
— Grummz (@Grummz) July 21, 2023
The Producer pointed out that games should be released in a completed state, but that is not the most profitable outcome. He went on to say:
“You make bad design decisions to milk the money.”
According to Mark Kern, developers can fix these issues to keep the community engaged, but this is also part of the live service model.
Constant changes ensure that players continue to return to the games, hoping that updates make it more appealing for the player base. Furthermore, he went on to claim that live service metrics for profits ruin gameplay.
You can’t defend this. It makes no sense to slow down the teleports out of dungeons in Diablo 4.
It was done to milk seconds of play time. They had a target time goal they had to meet through nerfs and timers.
Analytics and live service metrics to max profits ruins gameplay. https://t.co/nTSymlS0O3
— Grummz (@Grummz) July 21, 2023
His experience as a developer allows him to provide a unique insight into potential reasons behind certain decisions.
The Diablo 2 Producer believes Blizzard slowed down teleportation time to maximize play time, even if it only leads to a few more seconds of gameplay. This could also explain the recent nerfs for various classes.
Therefore, this is an example of live service metrics interfering with gameplay design.
Over the last few months, several live service games have also shut down. The genre is extremely competitive, so it is not difficult to understand the motivation behind developers looking to maximize player retention.
Nonetheless, Diablo 4 is unlikely to meet a similar fate. The game is a commercial success, selling over 10 million copies in June, but it remains to be seen if Blizzard can continue to maintain a successful live service model for the franchise.
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Bawal is an MBBS student by day and a gaming journalist by night. He has been gaming since childhood, growing fond of the creativity and innovation of the industry. His career as a gaming journalist started one year ago, and his journey has allowed him to write reviews, previews, and features for various sites. Bawal has also been cited in reputed websites such as Screenrant, PCGamesN, WCCFTech, GamesRadar, and more.