I recently wrote a relatively positive Diablo 3 review, and while I still stand by it, I didn’t have access to the game’s Inferno difficulty at the time. In recent weeks, myself and others—us dirty casuals—have finally had the displeasure of experiencing Inferno.
It’s a mess. “Impossible” elites are common, kiting is the strategy no matter what class you play, crafting is virtually useless, and the only sane way to get gear is via the auction house, a part of the game that is broken beyond repair after an in-game exploit allowed players to get infinite amounts of gold (Blizzard PR denies this, but I can confirm via insider sources that this specific event did occur). To top it all off, the most recent patch nerfed item and gold drops, raised repair costs to ridiculous amounts, broke multiple abilities completely, made multiple bosses “impossible” for various classes, and destroyed class builds via stat nerfs. All of this comes on the heels of Diablo 3’s shaky launch, which featured laggy servers, huge amounts of downtime, the absence of PVP, an exploit that allowed strangers to access your account information via public games, and a police raid on Blizzard’s offices in South Korea!
Blizzard’s response to the Inferno debacle? “Stop doing content that’s too hard for you.” –A shocking amount of (hopefully feigned) ignorance, considering even the worst gamers among us need only buy gear off the auction house and skip that Invulnerable Minion Arcane Enchanted Waller Vortex pack in order to beat the game on its hardest difficulty.
For weeks now, the Diablo 3 forums have been flooded with angry fans. Blizzard has employed about five community managers to quell them—to no avail. To the casual observer, the Diablo 3 community looks like a raving horde of lunatics, but a closer look reveals massive, passionate essays desperate to help fix a heavily flawed game. Even I feel sorry for the Blizzard devs, who probably shield themselves from relentlessly negative online forums as much as possible.
But they deserve it. The countless returned copies of Diablo 3, its rapid decline in population, their legal troubles in South Korea, the out-of-control forums—they deserve all of it, because Diablo 3 is a beta.
This is what happens when you release an incomplete game. This is what happens when you refuse to do the math yourselves; when you allow your fanbase to make the spreadsheets instead. This is what happens when you convince random, inexperienced, naïve people to beta test your games for you instead of hiring actual quality assurance—and I’m not talking about those interns. I’m talking about real QA that is good enough at video games to be able to beat and help you test Inferno. I get it: You the developers are not as good as the Starcraft pros. Fine. Hire someone who is.
Blizzard isn’t the only company that is exploiting consumers by cleverly convincing them to design the game, test the game, pay for the game, and fix the game, though. Most recently, Square-Enix has been begging its fanbase to help it make Final Fantasy XIV fun. The developers are literally clueless; they have no idea what consumers find entertaining, and so they’ve now resorted to asking them directly. Tip: If you don’t know how to entertain someone, if you can’t look at something and decide whether it’s fun or not, get out of the damn industry.
The hilarious part? After all of our efforts to help devs improve their games, we’re called “entitled”.
Blizzard has the community support required to fix Diablo 3. It will probably be a great game three months from now, when everyone has moved on to other games and doesn’t care anymore. I just wish they could have made a good game on their own instead of having their fanbase glue together the pieces.