Rob Pardo talks candidly about Diablo 3’s design mistakes

rob pardo

By pure accident today I stumbled across a very recent podcast with ex-Blizzard CCO Rob Pardo who left Blizzard back in July. It’s a really long interview, but in it Rob talks about the problems with Diablo 3 and some of the mistakes they made, as well as the now removed auction house.

As a long-time fan of the Diablo series, it’s actually quite hard to listen to because many of the problems with the game when it shipped were highlighted right here on this site months and months before a beta test even started. The fans were trying to stress potential problems with some of the revealed design decisions but it felt like Blizzard were just not listening.

When the game was released and problems with the loot system and the auction house surfaced, as many here predicted they would, the horse had bolted. With Josh taking over from Jay, it was only at that point Blizzard realised they needed to have more dialogue with the community. The community was really torn over how they felt about the game and it’s taken an expansion and more interaction with fans to get the game back on track. Just a real shame that wasn’t done from the start and Blizzard had actually tested the game properly, a point Rob makes in the interview.

Interestingly, Rob still feels that there could have been some form of an auction house when they were discussing the problem internally and Josh was one of the vocal team members that wanted to have it pulled from the game.

Rob’s interview is a whopping four hours long covering all Blizzard games, but if you head to this page and jump to around 1 hour 39, he talks about Diablo 3. Here’s a snip:

We were never truly able to beta test the game at a scale… I think we would have uncovered the problems, fixed it and made changes to it before it went into wide relase. The way we tested Diablo 3, we only really stress test, we never really tried to have a big population that played the game over a period of months, like we did with World of Warcraft.

We never really got at that in the beta (auction house), until we had ten million players, and yeh, it had a lot of problems that of course, in retrospect we should have seen those things but we just didn’t see them.

The other thing I think that people confuse,  because its such a magnet for controversy, the thing I think was bad about the the auction shouse, it’s not actually the real money part of it, because people think they did this real money thing and that’s why it’s bad. Even if you took the real money part of it out, it was the auction house itself that hurt the game.


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  1. Good find. I’m glad he isn’t part of the dev team anymore (right?) but it’s nice that he came clean, so to speak.

    As for the AH…everyone has had the discussion ad nauseum in forums all over the internets but for what it’s worth taking the AH out completely demonstrated, imo, “throwing the baby out with the bathwater,” type thinking and that’s just not good to see from any development team. Also, run on sentence ftw.

    If they could get Josh off the dev team now I’d be happy.

  2. I don't know if anyone has the time to listen to all 4 hours during the holidays (I certainly don't, visiting my parents and trying to keep them occupied this week), but I'm curious if Rob is that forthcoming about all of the Blizzard games? Usually ex-Bliz employees hardly say anything, at least not anything negative or self-critical.

    Even the Big 4 from back in the Bliz North days wouldn't go into detail about the many problems they had with interference from Bliz Irvine, and just talked about wanting to go a new direction, start over smaller and get back to just doing game design, etc. Their only complaint about larger issues was the financial troubles with the forever-impending sale of the gaming units from Vivendi, and that was really more about the stock price manipulations that were killing their retirement funds value.

  3. "We were never truly able to beta test the game at a scale…" R. Pardo

    Wow! What a singularly great testimony to remember when Blizzard keep spouting their "gameplay first" design philosophy BS mixed with hyperbolic reference of how perfectly polished their long-delayed games needed to be, the next time they want to sell their 'premium products' at premium prices complete with premium unilateral ToS to you.

    That said — Merry Christmas, everyone! 😀

  4. Jay got fired, didn't he.. The poor sap.

    • He got demoted from what’s been reported here. A lot of D3’s issues still lie at JW’s feet, like beta-testing only up to the Skeleton King (lvl 12?) and not listening to the community feedback during D3V beta.

  5. “and it’s taken an expansion and more interaction with fans to get the game back on track”

    Well..the expansion came out in march and the game feels more dead than vanilla was after 2 years…give d3 character development, a proper itemizazion + endgame + some sort of pvevp (2 teams, same rift, the one that kills the guardian first wins), runeword system, trading servers for the next xpack and this game is worth calling diablo

  6. As if the core issue with Diablo 3 was server or AH. No wonder the game was such in a bad shape at launch, even now this genius doesn't understand, or care to understand, what was deeply flawed with the loot system.

    Maybe, instead of thinking about the game in front of a black board like an engineer, he should have played and interacted with the product in the real world like a technician.

  7. Totally wrong team from the beginning to make a Diablo game. They took a dump on the previous Diablo games. Not surprising to see someone come clean and admit a few mistakes.

    Announce Diablo 4, announce return of skill trees, announce… oh well, time to log off and bury this pipe dream. Diablo IP is stuck with these clowns at Blizzard.

  8. They somehow completely ignored the D3 Beta feedback.

    There were tons of balance issues etc with Items and Spells that were blatantly obvious and they just didn’t give a fuck what we wrote back then.

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