Mark Kern, the producer of Diablo 2, has recently criticized Diablo 4 and other live-service games for their manipulative tactics.
Kern’s comments, shared via Twitter, suggest that these games are intentionally released in an unfinished state to maximize profits over time.
The Live-Service Game Dilemma
Live-service games are designed to keep players engaged for years through continuous updates and improvements.
However, Kern argues that these games often use predatory tactics to maximize the time a player spends in-game, which directly contributes to the game’s success metrics.
Kern’s criticism of Diablo 4 and other live-service games is particularly damning, as he suggests that these games are deliberately released in a half-finished state because it’s more profitable.
The Diablo 4 Critique
Kern’s critique of Diablo 4 is particularly harsh. He suggests that the game’s developers have made poor design decisions to keep the game relevant over time.
For example, Kern criticizes the slow teleportation out of dungeons in Diablo 4, arguing that there’s no reason for it to be as slow as it is. He suggests that this was done to “milk seconds of play time” and meet certain time goals set by the developers.
The Impact on Gameplay
Kern’s comments suggest that the focus on maximizing profits can have a detrimental effect on gameplay. He argues that the balancing in Diablo 4 and other live-service games is actively adjusted to manipulate analytics and live-service metrics, which can ruin the gameplay experience.
Kern’s comments may explain why many live-service games, such as Godfall, Marvel’s Avengers, and Babylon’s Fall, have been poorly received.
Asmongold also summarizes the whole concept of the patches done by Blizzard:
The Future of Live-Service Games
Despite the criticism, Diablo 4 has been a commercial success, surpassing even titles like Final Fantasy 16 to become June’s most downloaded game on the PlayStation 5. A DLC from Final Fantasy 16, however, could potentially retake the spotlight if Blizzard doesn’t step up their game.
However, Kern’s comments raise important questions about the future of live-service games. If these games continue to prioritize profits over player experience, they risk alienating their player base and damaging their long-term success.
What do you think about this? Should Blizzard try and continue with their continuous hot fixes or better yet redeem themselves in the upcoming Season 2 of Diablo 4?