Now that Diablo III has launched and gamers have had two months to play it, Mike Morhaime (CEO of Blizzard) wants to take a moment to reflect as well as look forward. He addresses the launch-time issues, the concerns over always-online connectivity, and end game improvements.
About the Launch
Mike starts off by expressing his company’s surprise and joy at breaking PC launch records. However, the game launched with a slew of issues, which Mike acknowledged. He elaborates:
“However, we’ve never gone from 0 to more than 6 million players across multiple continents within a few days with a brand-new game. For Diablo III, we looked at historical sales for Blizzard games and other top-selling PC games and watched preorder numbers. We even upped our estimates to ensure we had additional capacity, or so we thought. In the end, it just wasn’t enough, and that is something we will work hard to conquer for future releases.”
About All the Issues
Mike also takes a moment to address bugs and problems that have popped up with the game and reassures everyone that the developers are working around the clock to address all of the issues and fix them as best they can. He points to the fact that Diablo III has been running much more smoothly the past few weeks and reminds everyone that more issues are probably going to pop up in the future. He adds:
“We hope that our actions in the past have demonstrated that above all else, we’re committed to delivering an awesome game experience, and we hope you’ll have faith that we will continue to keep that commitment and respond to any new or outstanding issues quickly.”
He also remarks that Blizzard is not satisfied by breaking launch records. The company wants to create and run games that players will continue to play and enjoy for years.
Mike mentions some of the things players can expect to see in the upcoming patch, 1.0.4. There will be buffs to seldom-used class abilities in order to promote ”build diversity” as well as the addition of new and improved Legendary items. There will also be small updates to the game’s interface and the auction house.
Real Money Auction House
Mike starts off by explaining that Blizzard created the real money auction house as a way to help players avoid black market third-party sites that might put their accounts at risk. Furthermore, the developers wanted to give players the ability to make money off the extra loot, not black markets. He concludes by saying that they will continue to improve the auction house and players need not feel as though the auction house is needed in order to enjoy the game.
In Defense of Always-On Connectivity
In perhaps the most interesting paragraph of Mike Morhaime’s letter, he defends Diablo III’s always-on connectivity requirement. He admits that this aspect of the game was in part to help with problems surrounding copy protection, but says that the always-online aspect of the game is crucial for long-term gameplay experience:
“More important to us is that the online requirement is critical for the long-term integrity of the game experience. I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design. The effectiveness of the online elements — including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components — is tied directly to the online nature of the game. These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. …Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game.”
Mike concludes by mentioning that there are new goals being developed for high-level players so that they have an alternative to merely “item hunting.” He says that, as always, fan feedback is largely driving this improvement and all others.
To read Mike Morhaime’s full letter yourself, go here.