About a week ago I lost my level 60 Witch Doctor. I immediately started a new one and stopped at level four to take a breather and come back later in the day. When I came back I knew what was in front of me to get to 60. I knew the hours it took, and could figure out how long it would be until I got back to where I left off. It’s that knowledge that leads to temptation, to taking shortcuts, and perhaps cheating yourself out of the experience. Having taken note of some posts on the forums I wanted to see who was behind some powerleveling services, what they entailed, and what their goals really are.
The interview and more after the bump.
I sent a friend request to Gotan (the head of the leveling service)and he kindly took my request for an interview.I started out simple with a few questions about the service itself and things got interesting from there.
X:What does the service cost?
G: It had originally been 400k when Zoltun Kulle and Azmodan were still a viable option and demand low. With the Kulle and Azmodan nerfs now chain running Nightmare Diablo( with upwards of 10 players) is the most effective. As a result the cost is 2 million gold.
X:How much gold have you made as of today?
G: Around 500 million with some going to those who are leveling characters as they get a cut plus the quest reward gold.
X: How much of a demand is there for this service?
G: enough that we’ve had to suspend taking new requests for time periods since everyone who could do it was busy. Each day brings on more people looking for our services.
X: Are most of your clients Hardcore players frustrated with dying early or softcore converts trying to catch up?
G: For the most part they are Hardcore players, player who’ve stalled a bit and are looking to start running gear.
X: Do you have a lot or repeat customers? Are your clients surviving after you get them to 60?
G: Yes a lot of repeats but not due to death, mainly they want to try a new class at the max level and come back to us.
X: With no RMAH and a smaller community Why the focus on Hardcore?
G: The possibility of an RMAH makes it worthwhile, and with Hardcore deaths the need is there to make up for lost time.
X: Do you make any money off of this service?
G: No, services are only paid for in gold. However we are starting up an online poker site modelled after Eve online Hold em. This service will allow players to gamble their hardcore gold for a chance at a big payout.
X: So you are basically running a power leveling service to start a poker empire?
So in a few minutes I went from questions on power leveling to poker. I didn’t fathom that it was truly real until I saw them advertising on the forums today.
Now as for the leveling itself. 1-60 is a grind, and as long as it remains that way with the end game firmly rooted at that level we won’t get away from people trying to rush to the end. In Diablo 2 you wanted to get into hell and start farming gear but truly was the goal ever to get to 99? Sure it would be nice to be max level but your effective playing (hardcore or softcore) did not depend on it. As I grind back to 60( 57 at the moment) I constantly feel like each upgrade is not as important because at 60 I’ll need to to shift out everything. If you know that the end game requires the max level, and all the best gear and abilities are there, how many times to you do it by yourself? However, getting to 60 still feels like an accomplishment. I’ve had a lot of close calls to wake me up from the grind and realize that it isn’t easy. If we measure our success on how far we’ve gone with our characters how do we compare to the person who took 3 hours to hit 60 as opposed to 65. Rushing in D2 was different than it is now. Back then you could sit idle by at level 1 and have someone hold your hand to hell. Were there risks? Sure but for the most part you got where you needed but then had to get to the work on leveling your character ( which might involve more leeching). In Diablo 3 you are standing in town getting quest rewards over and over. There is no risk to you in getting rushed, and aside from gearing you’re ready to go into hell/inferno.
We’ve seen a few of the Hardcore streamers drop level 60’s in Inferno and be back in action with a new 60 the next day(or two). While they didn’t use a service like Gotans they had friends do that for them. Is there a difference? When is it okay to bypass content (and the grind) to get to the end?
Last we have the poker system. A online way to gamble away your hard earned gold with the hope of a big return. I wasn’t familiar with Eve online’s system( or Eve online for that matter) so I thought I would check it out. For the most part it’s pretty simple, put in currency, place bets, ????, profit. In the end however the house always wins. Someone is taking a cut for you to do this, and whether you win or lose, it is lining their pockets.
Both issues question what your priorities are. Do you want to get to 60 immediately? Do you want a chance to have massive wealth? Do both of these cheapen what makes hardcore so special?
In my opinion your characters should be earned through time and diligence, along with your wealth. As I stated before getting to 60 is not a walk in the park yet, death is still out there, don’t buy your power earn it! At least until they instil a hardcore RMAH then line up and buy my crap for cash!
One Life to Live covers the Hardcore play and life style in the Diablo community. It is written by Xanth and published weekly. Post your comments below, Follow me on Twitter @HCXanth or contact the author directly. For all the archived news about Diablo 3 hardcore check our Archives!