During this weekend’s BlizzCon 2017 event there was a lot of news regarding Blizzard’s titles. We received information about World of Warcraft’s new expansion pack as well as a Classic Edition that will allow players to return to the game’s roots. We learned Starcraft 2 is going free-to-play which will surely help boost the playerbase after years of being on the market. Hearthstone had a new expansion pack detailed and Overwatch is receiving a new hero and a new map in the near future.
One glaring omission was Diablo 3 and notably, the Diablo franchise as whole. Diablo is Blizzard’s longest running franchise outside of Warcraft so it was pretty disappointing to not see anything announced for the game. Season 12 is coming up soon so at the very least we could’ve had a reminder that was coming but Blizzard decided against that.
BlizzCon 2016 was a good source of news for Diablo 3 as that’s where it was first announced that the game would be receiving the new Necromancer class as well as a Diablo 1 themed dungeon, completely remade in Diablo 3. Fans were once again interested in the game again and it looked like there could potentially be more support like this down the road.
Ultimately, the Necromancer did help raise some interest in the game again but it likely turned out to be short lived. We saw a Season come and go with the Necromancer class and for many players, that’s likely all they needed to get their fill in.
Diablo 3, like Starcraft 2, just isn’t all that profitable for Blizzard because it lacks ways to make money outside of buying it once. World of Warcraft has a monthly subscription and Overwatch has the whole situation with the loot boxes going on. Before the Necromancer add-on, Diablo 3 was just a game you buy once and you’re done with it.
In fact, we don’t think it’s all that unlikely to think Diablo 3 could go free-to-play shortly after Starcraft 2 does. That probably depends on how many players Starcraft brings in by doing so but the writing is certainly on the wall for Diablo 3. The game has only been out since 2012 with the expansion coming out in 2014 but many games receive sequels within that time period.
Diablo has experimented with the Necromancer class being sold as a $15 standalone and something like that could be done with the other classes too. If the game did go free-to-play, potentially a player could pick any of the classes available and just own one for free. If the player wanted to try other classes, they could purchase more, like what’s being done with the Necromancer.
The game could also just experiment with putting the whole thing as free-to-play with the six classes before the Necromancer and then making more classes to sell for $15 a pop. Blizzard could decide to keep the Reaper of Souls expansion as a paid expansion but that’s probably not the best idea since vanilla Diablo 3 is a completely different experience.
Of course all of this is just speculation at this point but it’s something we think could help rejuvenate interest in the game again. With a game like Path of Exile on the market that is completely free-to-play and pumping out expansions like nobody’s business, it’s hard to imagine this not being the future. Path of Exile is still growing despite being out for years while Diablo 3 has grown stagnant.
Diablo 3 is an excellent game so it’s hard to just watch it wither away and not even warrant a mention during BlizzCon’s opening ceremonies. The game does still receive patches that rework the armor and skills but we want more. With more ARPG games on the market it’s becoming harder to recommend Diablo 3 over its competitors. We want a reason to recommend Diablo 3 to friends again and a free-to-play version might be a way.
If you like what you’ve read here then make sure you check out the rest of Heavy’s gaming coverage as well.