In a new post in our Diablo 3 Community Forum, Gerhard makes an argument that puts a finger on a lot of the fan discontent I’ve heard lately. Here’s an excerpt from his post, Diablo 3 Forum Watch: Why are Patches and Content so Slow?
I don’t post often, but had the urge today because I can only conclude that Diablo 3 is currently on the back burner at Blizzard. They surely have redistributed quite a bit of the team to help out teams for other games – I can’t otherwise explain why they are doing things like they do them now.
…How on Earth is it possible to have a new set done to the point it is playable and with all its art in place (I’m talking about the new DH multishot, WIZ slow time and BARB whirlwind/rend sets) and not be at the stage of balancing it via, say, the current PTR?!
…I don’t know, it just seems to me that what they are churning out content-wise is very, very little and that they are very, very slow at that. And they tease people of what will come “in the future”. Seriously, at this pace they are going, when will patch 2.2 be rolled out? By June 2015? It’s OK to tease a new expansion a year before it will be released, but to tease a few items that are almost dome is just redic and rubbing salt in the wound.
See the full post and the thread for more debate. I don’t disagree with the “patches take too long and I want more content” sentiment… but I think our impatience is largely misguided. Or at least based on misconceptions.
Ironically, the false expectations were created by the D3 devs themselves, as they scrambled to improve the game after launch. The Blizzcon 2014 Evolving Reaper of Souls panel went into gruesome detail about a lot of the problems they’ve fixed since D3v, including the terrible item system, no end game, too steep difficulty progression, lack of multiplayer perks, etc. Those and many other issues were fixed, or at least improved upon during multiple patches in 2012 and early 2013. Then in mid-2013 we got the Reaper of Souls announcement, plus all the news about the itemization makeover coming in Diablo 3 version 2, which launched in early 2014. RoS followed in March 2014, and had a couple of quick patches as well.
We’ve seen much less activity since then, spurring rants like the OP quoted above… but I think what we’ve seen in the past 6+ months is what D3 devs had in mind from the start. A patch every few months with some new legendary items and some other game tweaks, but not big system changes or content additions, except in the form of Expansion Pack(s). Diablo 3 isn’t a WoW-style MMO with a monthly fee, and it’s not a “free” to play ARPG supported by advertising and a cash item shop, and it’s not one of those console games that ships with 50% of the content and sells the rest $5 or $10 at a time as DLC releases over the next year or two. D3 doesn’t even have an RMAH anymore.
Diablo 3’s financial model is old school, much like D2’s or Starcraft’s, with a full-priced game followed every couple of year by a big expansion pack, with occasional patches and small additions in between. Players can object to D3’s financial model and wish it was something different, but it is what it is, and it seems highly unlikely that the devs can or will suddenly switch over to F2P with DLC or a cash shop, etc. And it’s also unlikely that they’ll start cranking out new content for free on a regular basis; at least not while most of the team is toiling on the next expansion, which we’ll likely see announced in the coming months. (At Blizzcon in October they didn’t announce anything, but made a lot of jokes and allusions to big content coming in the future, that they couldn’t talk about yet.)
I’ll echo what Gerhard said in the forum thread. What do you guys think of the current pace of development and the larger issue of the financial model? Would you prefer regular content updates? Would you pay $ for them? Are you content with minor patches while you wait 18-22 months for each new expansion? Do you want both? Or something in between