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Dear Diablo Players,
Now that Diablo III has been out for two months, I would like to take a step back and discuss the launch, the feedback from the community, and talk about what the future holds for the game.
We’ve had an enormous amount of feedback since the launch. I speak for everyone at Blizzard when I say that we appreciate the passion and affection many of you have for the Diablo series. We truly believe “Every Voice Matters,” so I want to thank you for sharing your experiences in an effort to help us improve the game. Your support makes it possible for us to continue doing what we do, and we never take that for granted.
The launch week of Diablo III was memorable for many reasons -- some positive, and some not so positive. We were thrilled that Diablo III had the biggest PC-game launch ever, surpassing the lifetime sales of Cataclysm (the previous record holder for biggest PC-game launch) in a matter of weeks. We’ve been floored by the response.
However, the launch had many challenges as well. It has always been difficult to forecast how many players we will have. With World of Warcraft, it was a challenge to handle the immediate demand when we launched back in 2004, and that was just in North America. We eventually expanded to other regions and reached nearly 5 million players by the end of the first year, and there were a lot of growing pains with that. However, we’ve never gone from 0 to more than 6 million players across multiple continents within a few days with a brand-new game. For Diablo III, we looked at historical sales for Blizzard games and other top-selling PC games and watched preorder 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.
In response to the immediate and overwhelming demand for the game, the team worked around the clock to support all regions, increase capacity, ship additional hardware to our datacenters, and troubleshoot and fix bugs as they sprang up. While things have by and large been running smoothly for several weeks now, various game-related issues have come up that we have either already responded to or are continuing to investigate (such as the latency issue some of you are experiencing) and make adjustments for. Rather than address every subject individually, I’ll just say that even as we work to address or resolve current issues, it’s always possible that further issues will crop up. We hope that our actions in the past have demonstrated that above all else, we’re committed to delivering an awesome game experience, and we hope you’ll have faith that we will continue to keep that commitment and respond to any new or outstanding issues quickly.
We are not satisfied with breaking launch records; we want people to continue playing and enjoying Blizzard games for a very long time. The Diablo III team has made an epic, entertaining, and beautiful gaming experience. That being said, we know that it isn’t perfect. Our teams are working hard to improve the game balance, build on our design, and listen to what players are saying to make it the best game it can be.
You’ve seen some of that work already in patch 1.0.3, and you’ll see additional improvements with patch 1.0.4. On the game balance front, this update will contain changes designed to further deliver on the team’s goal of promoting “build diversity,” with buffs to many rarely used, underpowered class abilities. Another topic we’ve seen actively discussed is the fact that better, more distinct Legendary items are needed. We agree. Patch 1.0.4 will also include new and improved Legendary items that are more interesting, more powerful, and more epic in ways you probably won’t be expecting.
We’re also working on a number of interface updates, including social improvements that will allow players to more easily view their friends’ achievements, more quickly join games, and more efficiently communicate with each other. In addition, we’ll be making updates to the auction house in the future to provide players with better information through tooltips and notices, offer improved search functionality, and more.
Regarding the real-money auction house, our primary goal for including this 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. We know the auction house isn’t perfect, but with your help and feedback, we’ll be able to continue making it a better experience for those who choose to use it. On the flipside, we are also committed to ensuring you have a great experience with Diablo III without feeling like the auction house is mandatory, which was never our intention. Thank you for all the feedback about that.
One other common topic we’ve seen in the forums is the always-connected experience, and the perception that the online requirement is nothing but an ineffective form of copy protection that has already been cracked. While we’ve never said that this requirement guarantees that there will be no cheating or game cracks, it does help us battle those problems (we have not found any fully functional cracks). More important to us is that the online requirement is critical for the long-term integrity of the game experience. I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III 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. These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. That said, there are still improvements we believe we can make to expand the online experience and make co-op play even more rewarding, and this will remain one of our priorities moving forward. Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game.
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.
As always, we appreciate your candor and passion. Your constructive feedback and thoughts are valuable -- they will continue to help us be a better company. I just want to reiterate that while we can’t claim to have ever shipped a perfect game, we are committed to supporting our games relentlessly and making improvements where we can. Thank you for your support.
well that's it for me, gg blizzard! might catch you next game, no hard feelings :)
some reflections (even some good stuff at the end!) on my 150 hours are below.
when I started thinking of quitting, I read a few of these threads and quite enjoyed the players' reflection on their time in the game and their feedback on why they weren't enjoying it enough to keep playing. it gave me the good feeling that i wasn't just crazy, thinking of dropping a blizzard game so early on in the piece. and of course hearing from the leaving players apects of the game they did enjoy. here are mine.
roughly 100 hours of inferno farming at 180% magic find and fast kill rate yet not a single useable weapon dropped for inferno difficulty. one legendary ring sold for ~ 10 mill on the auction house, the rest was junk. the RNG in this game is ridiculous and of course the parameters are set so widely that ultimately you must use the auction house to make your character more powerful.
typed "I'm uninstalling, who wants 7 million?" and had just the one person whisper me saying that yes he wanted 7 million. one person; the game feels like a ghost town in spite of Mike's post above me saying that they broke retail records.
but of course nobody talks to each other in a competitive economy. you don't help your fellow player if doing so will add to the supply and lower demand for the product you're selling for real money in a pay to win design; a design which means that you cannot farm for yourself. so, like many others i found that all roads pointed to the auction house if i wanted to have some build diversity and progress towards inferno diablo kills.
however, the gold auction house turned out to be a little expensive. after a while it dawned on me - people must be using the rmah.. which meant that all the best items would never see the gold auction house... simple economics meant that the supply of decent end-game items to the gold auction house would therefore be far less than the demand, by an impossible amount.
i found myself farming elite after elite. not willing to believe that niggling feeling that it was mostly a waste of time. i used one of the only builds for barbs which meant i could handle every elite affix (frenzy + revenge + war cry, anyone?). and grind i did. i'm happy to grind usually, but with diablo 3, after 150 hours of play, the only end game i experienced was grinding to get gold to buy items off the auction house. this is the crux of the issue; progressing in diablo 3's end game means grinding in the hope that you get items that will sell for enough gold on an auction house i never wanted to use in the first place, to afford the next tiny incremental upgrade to gear with the same stats as the last piece, just slightly higher numbers. so why use the auction house at all if it's not fun, you ask? because the feeling of progressing is more important than fun. why is a feeling of progression so important? because life is about growth.
I think back to diablo 2 and all the farming i did which resulted in direct upgrades for my characters. all of my characters could finish the game with gear i farmed for myself. i didn't have to endlessly trawl the auction house selling and buying. i could just play the game i enjuoyed to progress in the game and have more powerful feeling characters as the end game and it worked for years for me. I never paid money for items in d2 like the lead game designer of d3 say players were doing already back in d2 days. i wonder how widespread he really thought such item buying in d2 was; i think those players were in the minority honestly. and i think blizz knows it too, so rmah i feel is just greedy sorry guys. most d2 players just enjoyed the grind. the drop rates seemed balanced, and once you got above a certain level of magic find, they felt pretty generous. you knew that if you farmed a certain boss for long enough, you'd get the unique you wanted. i would even get unique item drops awesome enough for other classes that they would inspire an entirely new class/build type. i remember some awesome main hand sorceress weapon dropped for me while i was playing my barb, and it inspired a sorceress. no such exciting or satisfying feeling now. i just grimace at every trash ilvl 63 rare i identify (usually full bags at a time).
dying to rubber banding a lot is really no fun. how long should i wait for what i thought was the best gaming company in the world to fix their server issues? months? years? i thought i'd give them the benefit of the doubt and reformatted, tried playing on another account on a mac, played in internet cafes, friend's houses.. surprise surprise, at 100 Mbps on state of the art hardware with a fresh OS install the issues weren't going away. a sub par experience with the very best ping times being around 200ms, and rubber banding happening on every combo/setup i tried. even when there are no rubber banding or lag spikes, projectiles in inferno don't feel all that dodgable at .2-.3 seconds lag time, unless i'm playing it really safe, which is pretty boring.
so the undodgability due to online play meant even less gear/build diversity because the game doesn't feel crisp due to such sluggish response times. i tried the asia server but somehow it gave me even higher latency. odd being in australia.
so how then did i manage 150 hours? well, if you'd read this far here's what i enjoyed about diablo 3:
at level 50 on my demon hunter i spent a million gold to make her overpowered. i cackled with glee as every non elite mob burst into flames with one shot. elites died in two or three shots. it was a million gold well spent. hell difficulty was a blast while it lasted; finally a character felt powerful, if only for a fleeting moment.
the skill system is pretty nice. there are lots of combos and fine tuning you can do to (theoretically) make a build which feels unique. this doesn't play out due to non cookie cutter builds being a wipefest in inferno, and trade issues further limiting build diversity (like an inferno high dps weapon with life on hit costing minimum 10 million gold) but i can see the theory was there.
act 1's halls of agony was the one zone in d3 that made me feel immersed. it was what i wanted from the rest of the game. cult members scurried away from torture victims, and accidentally touching one of the poor sods meant whatever he was tied to chewed him up in a meatgrinder. fabulous. i even chuckled at the self aware butcher who told me that vegetables were bad. good on ya mate.
the witch doctor's skills are hilarious. on release day (once i got in) i delighted in showing off my spiders, bats, dogs and snakes to a friendly chap i grouped with who had a much less interesting monk with a big fist.
the banter of the followers made me giggle the first few times i heard them talk. it was one of the few bits of dialogue writing that didn't make me yawn; we can all remember the first time we heard the templar murderously mutter "betrayal can never be forgiven", then later in an upbeat voice "I tried to count how many we've killed" -slight pause, tone shifts darkly- "but I've lost track."
happy gaming all
edit: just saw this post 44 pages in and this really nailed why i hate these forums and the solution
and this gem found 45 pages in. so succinct.
Edited by dreamalittle#1879 on 7/19/2012 10:52 AM PDT
Finally a blue post, why the absence, thank you Mike but... There are pressing matters that you didnt address, the trade scams and the issue of pre id of unID items. Hope you can communicate with us more openly after the long absence of blues.
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