Diablo Immortal…NotLikeThis…

The title for the next iteration of Diablo is such a contradiction, considering it might already be dead!

I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who was disappointed in what the next iteration of Diablo turned out to be. Seeing a title like, “Diablo: What’s Next?” on the schedule for BlizzCon opened up the hype gates like Tyrael parting the sky from heaven on his way down to Sanctuary to slay some demon spawn!

Blizzard even had to temper the enthusiasm from the Diablo fan base with a post because everyone was hoping for just a glimpse of Diablo 4. Just a peek would be all we needed but, alas, it was not meant to be. I’ll tell you what was next though, a big heaping pile of #notmydiablo!

If I’m being harsh it’s because I have been fan of Diablo from the beginning. I can remember playing the original Diablo over local co-op on the PlayStation with my brother, so many hours with Diablo 2 on the PC, and finally with Diablo 3 on the PC (over and over again – thank you seasons). I don’t think anyone was looking forward to a smartphone version of Diablo (if you can find someone that was clamoring for it, let me know in the comments – genuinely asking here folks).

This will be the first Diablo game that I won’t play… wow… that’s a hard one to type. I choose not to play it because it’s not the game I want and certainly not the Diablo I want. It feels like the powers that be at Blizzard (or maybe Activision) are not aware of what the fan base wants or they don’t care. Since we don’t know what the pricing is or what micro-transactions are going to be available in the game, we can’t say it was just a cash grab…yet. Whatever the model ends up being doesn’t really matter. What does matter, and I HOPE Blizzard is listening, is that they missed the mark. No amount of hype, or faux hype at the BlizzCon announcement can make a game desirable when it wasn’t wanted in the first place.

After perusing some of the Diablo 3 subreddit (I mean, where else would you go to get the pulse of a community?) I found a very concise summary to the whole thing from user j005e and to sum it up; I share it here:


The phrase that I’ve seen used a lot in defense of Blizzard/Activision is, “You can’t please everyone.” and while that’s true, you could at least satisfy the Diablo fanbase. Sadly, I don’t know if any lessons will be learned or anything good will come from this whole thing. I do hope I’m wrong and Blizzard give us all a mea culpa but, what are the chances of that?

DDoS Attack on Blizzard’s Battle.net Servers Ended

As of 10:30 pm EST, Blizzard has successfully nullified the most recent DDoS attack on the battle.net servers.

Blizzard called the doctor, and the doctor said...

Blizzard called the doctor, and the doctor said…

For the bulk of the day today the blizzard forums were flooded with gamers who were reporting slow connections speeds and/or horrendous latency problems. Blizzard Customer Support reported that the cause was indeed a DDoS attack. A group by the name of @poodlecorp is claiming responsibility for the attack.

Speculation abounds, for sure, some saying this is a reaction to Blizzard banning a massive number of Overwatch users earlier this week.

No matter. Blizzard customer support just tweeted the following:

The DDoS attacks from earlier have ended and players can now log into BattleNet. We are investigating reports of World Server Down in WoW

– BlizzardCS (@BlizzardCS)

Game on!

StarCraft II? I Wish

I’m a big fan of RTS games. However, I think Blizzard might be a little full of themselves for charging $60 for StarCraft II–especially if you only play single player. It’s essentially two games anyway.

(I’m late to the pricing-pity-party.)

Video Game Power Rankings #10

This week’s Power Rankings is a little mix of everything. This week we actually had two stories that could have taken the top spot, but I had to go with my orb-loving heart this week.

1. (-) Crackdown 2 – Crackdown was one of the most anticipated games of 2010 and had a lot to live up to. So after playing the demo and being underwhelmed, I wondered how it would be received by the gaming populous. With all the expectations, it was a bit disappointing to see reviews all over the place in terms of scores. Worthplaying said “A newly designed city and seamless co-op aren’t enough to overcome the game’s ho-hum missions or general lack of content.” But Co-optimus says “But it truly is everything you loved about the original game with plenty of more things to do and minor improvements all around,” giving it a higher score for it’s Co-Op action. I’m still looking forward to playing and collecting orbs no matter the score. We’ll see how long that lasts.

2. (-) Blizzard Forums – So Blizzard decided that maybe it would be a good idea to display players’ real names on their forums. You know, to put an end to forum trolls forever. At first blush, I thought it sounded like a pretty good idea. But it’s probably a pipe dream to think Blizzard can fix the troll problem with one silver bullet. And now Blizzard has called it off. That’s probably for the best. For now.

3. (-) Xbox Live – Speaking of hives of scum and villainy, it was reported last week that Xbox Live sales (a little of everything, I’m sure) surpassed $1B. That’s one billion dollars. That’s a lot of Avatar gear.

4. (-) Halo: Reach – Bungie celebrated Bungie day by releasing a teaser video with Red vs. blue announcing the return of the Blood Gulch map in the form of Big Blood Gulch for Halo: Reach. Feels just like home! Now just bring back Hang ‘Em High!

5. (-) Dragon Age 2 – In a surprise to pretty much no one, Bioware announced their upcoming sequel to Dragon Age (cleverly named Dragon Age 2). There was much rejoicing.

6. (-) Dragon Quest IX – Speaking of dragons (man I am the king of segues today!), the long awaited DQIX was released to the public. And it was good.

7. (9) NCAA 11 After watching this video review of NCAA 11, I was sold. All the new online dynasty goodies their releasing has me dreaming of doing my recruiting when I should be working. This game is going to be fun.

8. (1) OnLive – OnLive is going to live and die by how responsive the game capture and streaming community is becoming. A post at Eurogamer claims that OnLive’s performance is, “similar to playing Killzone 2 locally, and in line with Rare’s claims for lag when using the new Kinect camera controller.”

And that’s all I have to say about that.

How to avoid the next game industry crash

Bill Harris thinks the videogame industry is heading for a crash. I’m not sure if I like Bill, but I do respect him. His general antisocial ways probably appeal to my misanthropic nature and so I try not to have too much positive personal bias, but I can rarely argue with his analysis. He makes some good points about a potential looming crash, though I don’t think he goes far enough.

I don’t like to rehash other people’s blog posts, so I don’t want to talk about why we’re heading for a crash, just that I do think we’re heading for one. Right now the four big players are playing a four-way game of chicken except the only way to win is to not veer off course, crash into your opponents as hard as you can, and hope you’re the one who can still walk away. While there is the possibility that one or more participants could survive such a contest, a far more likely scenario is that all four wind up on life support.

Then it occurred to me this week that while the crash is almost certainly inevitable, there is a way for at least one company to win.

Instead of playing this four way game of chicken, one company needs to reverse course and completely change their whole approach. Almost every strategy being proposed by EA, Activision, Ubisoft, and Take Two focuses on nickel and diming consumers if not outright treating them like garbage. If one company starts to focus on making consumers happy, they win. That’s not a minor proposition though because it flies in the face of everything the movers and shakers in the market are working in.

Quit spending money on day one DLC. Either it’s in the game or not. Drop your prices for 360 and PS3 games to $50. Stop development on every game we all know is not going to sell. Do we really need a Kane and Lynch 2? Quit worrying about the secondary market. I’m not saying embrace it, just quit drawing attention to it and quit making it look like your trying to screw consumers. In general, start looking at ways to make gamers feel good about spending money on your products. Also, let’s face it, the current release model is unsustainable and the current economy will only make it worse. I don’t have the answer to how, but these companies are supposed to be full of smart people. Figure out how to make the “long tail” work for you and quit this ridiculous death march of trying to sell a million copies in the first two weeks of release just to break even.

Also, I know I didn’t spend much time on the above points but I’m sure the price point thing is going to stick with some people. Look, $30, $50, or $60, the actual price doesn’t matter so long as a game recoups it’s development costs. Once a game gets past the cost of development it is essentially printing money. Valve has proved time and again that lowering the price of games increases sales exponentially. $60 is an off-putting price. There are many more games I’d be willing to buy on day one for $50 instead of $60. There are many games I do buy when they hit $10 off. The difference to consumers between $40 to $50 is not the same as $50 to $60. It is not “just $10 more” in the minds of consumers. I’ve worked in software development for over a decade now and I promise you that a piece of software is only worth as much as someone will pay for it. Trying to sell $20 games for $60 is part of the reason the videogame industry is struggling so much in today’s economy. Trying to market $20 games as though they are worth $60 is just throwing money down the toilet.

The overall strategy needs to be a shift towards doing something good for the consumer.