Diablo III is Changing

Or at least, that’s what Blizzard wants the playerbase to think. In a recent blog post, Game Designer Travis Day talks about upcoming changes to Diablo III and how they’ll impact players, specifically those concerning itemization.

Curiously, the post begins on rather an odd note, where he talks about wanting to reduce drop rates for Legendary items:

By design, Legendary items are going to drop far less often than Rare items, and we want that rarity to be reflected in their power. When a Legendary drops, the question that goes through a player’s mind should never be “is this a good item?” It should be “how awesome is it?” For example, if you are playing a Demon Hunter wielding a Rare crossbow and a Legendary crossbow drops, we want your reaction to be “Holy crap, YES!” not “*sigh* another Hellrack.” It’s a problem if players don’t want to bother identifying their Legendaries, let alone pick them up. We want to change this.

It seems like a move designed to provoke outcry, adding fuel to the “Real Money Auction House killed the game” bonfire. He then goes on about how he’d like to see items having more interesting properties to encourage experimentation with new builds, before going on to suggest that rare items are dropping too frequently and thus becoming a “burden” on the player. Which sounds like that might be the exact opposite of what players want. He then clarifies:

Before anyone panics and posts an angry comment in the forums, this doesn’t mean we want players to earn even fewer good items. It just means we don’t feel it’s necessary to present the player with hundreds of bad Rares for every one that they might want. As an example, suppose items currently roll between 1-100 Intelligence. Now, imagine that we dropped 25% as many items, but the Intelligence range was instead somewhere around 75-100. In the end, you’d find fewer items, but more of the items you find would be worth equipping. That’s our goal.

Hmm. I’ll tentatively agree with that idea. He then turns to ideas targeted to making spending gold more “exciting”, before actually tackling the elephant in the room, namely the Auction House, head on:

If the “right” way for some people to play the game changes from killing monsters to camping the auction house, is the game better off for it? Ultimately we don’t think it is, but we also don’t want to take something away that has become such an enjoyable part of the game for others. So, the question instead becomes: how can we refocus the end game away from farming the auction house back to farming monsters? It’s a complicated issue, but one we are committed to addressing.

He even addresses the issue of scrapping the Auction House entirely:

While completely removing the feature would in fact fix the problem it created, it would also create a void that the auction house was originally designed to address. For example, we don’t want players to feel like the only way to trade with other people is by sitting in chat and spamming “WTS [item link]” and “WTB [awesome item]” all day. This is definitely not ideal.

Although I’d argue that there’s already enough people spamming chat channels as it is, making this something of a weak argument. He finishes off with outlining some possible solutions to the problem, such as ensuring certain NPCs have a chance to drop certain Legendary items, or guaranteeing an enemy will drop a Legendary item the first time they are beaten at a specific difficulty, or ensuring that items that drop are generally more appropriate to your character.

All good ideas, and he finishes off by inviting feedback on this from the playerbase. So it looks like Blizzard is trying to be a little more transparent about the game’s future (or at least give the impression of doing so), and even for a game that no-one really plays any more, perhaps it’s a case of better late than never.

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Your thoughts on this?