Blizzard wants you to know that Diablo 4 does not pay to win

Blizzard wants you to know that Diablo 4 does not pay to win ...

Blizzard has gone to great pains to repeat something it had already stated in a new developer blog: Diablo 4's monetization will not include any mechanism to purchase power or gameplay advantages.

The blog, which is written in extremely careful and precise language by Kegan Clark, explains how Diablo 4 will be monetized (outside of the sale of future expansion packs). Only one thing will be sold at the in-game shop: cosmetic enhancements for your character.

Clark has explicitly and repeatedly rejected the possibility of selling anything that might affect gameplay.

This deliberate messaging is surely the result of the Diablo Immortal controversy that has engulfed the game. The mobile game, developed by NetEase, was well-made, but has gotten traction for its exploitative and deceptive methods, which effectively paywalls the games' most powerful items, and drives the cost of completing a character excessive.

The language of this blog is likely to reflect Diablo Immortal's reaction, but it's unlikely that the same applies to the games' monetization design. Blizzard has learned from a previous confrontation over the real-money auction house included in Diablo 3 at its launch in different countries: mobile platforms and Asian countries.

Regardless, the Diablo 4s shop and Season Pass represent significant departures for a mainline Diablo, and the community will likely be vigilant for any detail of their operation that might be off.

The most surprising aspect of the Season Pass is that it includes gameplay enhancements. These are defined as things that make the process of leveling up a new seasonal character more efficient, for example, an increase in the rate at which XP is earned.

We want to be clear that players can't unlock Season Boosts more swiftly through purchases; there's no way to unlock more boosts, or boosts at a faster pace, by spending money, said Clark. However, gameplay boosts will be locked to the character level, and they will be awarded equally to all players.

All other Season Pass rewards, whether free or paid, will be cosmetic. Some will be exclusive to the season and reflect the season's theme. Focus on the Season Journey, a series of achievement-style goals that will familiarize Diablo 3 players.

Cosmetics sold in the shop will be used by any character who has no in-game stats or other influence on gameplay. They will be mainly limited to individual character classes (whereas cosmetics exclusive to the Season Pass might look the same across all classes). They can also be mixed and matched with transmogs obtained in the game.

Blizzard is keen to emphasize that cosmetics may differ from in-game armor pieces, but not necessarily better. There are incredible pieces Unique and Legendary quality items for players to discover without ever going to the shop, according to Clark.

The Diablo 4's monetization strategy may still enrage the community, given that the Season Pass unavoidably carries the flavor of free-to-play gaming, while the fiercely competitive Diablo community will surely test the claim that seasonal gameplay boosts are fair and cannot be exploited to the end of their useful life.

In long-running live games, selling cosmetics is a common practice, and there seems to be nothing controversial about the way they will be sold in Diablo 4. Nonetheless, for others, a character's impressive appearance should be a testament to the effort and skill that went into acquiring those armor pieces. To those players, offering similar outfits for sale will negate that value.

However, Blizzard must do something long-term to ensure the long-term sustainability of Diablo 4's ambitious live service. These cosmetics and the Season Pass that feeds into them are what it has settled on. Only time will tell whether players will find them more enjoyable than Diablo Immortals' pay-to-win conclusion.