Working On "New Gamepay Systems" For High Level Chars
Blizzard co-founder Mike Morhaime has penned an open letter to Diablo III fans, explaining the state of play after two eventful months. Apparently the 'always-on' requirement and real money auction house were both "essential" and "critical" for the long-term future of the game, and Blizzard plans to address concerns over late-game content with PVP and "new gameplay systems."
While Morhaime was quick to mention that Diablo III shattered sales and pre-order records for the company, he also acknowledged that the RPG made headlines for other, less glamourous reasons. "We've never gone from 0 to more than six million players across multiple continents within a few days with a brand-new game," he said. "For Diablo 3, we looked at historical sales for Blizzard games and other top-selling PC games and watched pre-order numbers. We even upped our estimates to ensure we had additional capacity, or so we thought. In the end, it just wasn't enough, and that is something we will work hard to conquer for future releases."
Morhaime also defended Diablo III's controversial 'always online' DRM and real-money auction house, suggesting that both were implemented to make the game safer.
I fully understand the desire to play Diablo 3 offline; however, Diablo 3 was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design. The effectiveness of the online elements - including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components - is tied directly to the online nature of the game.
...our primary goal for including [the RMAH] in the game was to provide convenience and peace of mind for those players who might otherwise turn to third-party services to buy items. Black market trading sites can put accounts at risk and create many customer service challenges. We felt that the players themselves also deserved the opportunity to benefit from the extra loot they found, as opposed to having all of the benefit go to the black market/illegal trading organizations.
In terms of the future of Diablo III, Morhaime points to PvP and "new" gameplay elements spicing up the experience for high level characters; giving them more reasons to stick around beyond the loot hunt.
I know many of you are also looking forward to patch 1.1, our PvP update, which will provide new experiences and give you a whole new way to apply the skills you’ve picked up while battling demons. This patch will also build on the social and auction house changes I mentioned above, and the team will continue to fix bugs and further tune game balance as well.
We’re also working on a gameplay system that will provide players who have max-level, high-powered characters new goals to strive for as an alternative to the “item hunt.” We’re not ready to get into specifics just yet, but I can say that we’re actively taking your feedback into account as we plan out the future of the game.
Many currently believe that Diablo III has suffered a major player drop-off since launch. Hopefully the addition of PvP and new features should help freshen things up somewhat.
Morhaime concluded by thanking fans for their dedication and useful feedback. The whole missive actually makes for a very interesting read, so definitely head over to Battle.net if you've got a spare few minutes.