Blizzard announced Diablo 4 at BlizzCon 2019, but people are still loving and playing Diablo 3 in 2019, almost eight years since Blizzard released it. But before the Reaper of Souls expansion, Diablo 3 wasn’t the lovable, wildly replayable game it is now.
At BlizzCon 2019, we sat down and spoke to executive producer Allen Adham, art director John Mueller, and game director Luis Barriga about avoiding the franchise’s past mistakes.
The real-money auction house
When we asked which mistakes the team worked to avoid, Adham was quick to bring up the real-money auction house. The team agreed that it wasn’t a feature they’d go back to. But Adham said that Blizzard still wanted to enable trading between players in Diablo 4.
“There are a lot of great elements to trade if it’s done in a contained way,” said Adham. “So we’ve got some pretty solid ideas on how to make trade viable without letting it disrupt the game.”
During our interview, Blizzard mentioned players trading with one another in town for a powerful item, or loot distribution from a guild leader in Diablo 4.
When Blizzard launched Diablo 3, it featured a real-money auction house, a store where players could buy and sell gear for in-game gold or a real-money equivalence. The auction house created a Diablo that was worth farming for gold, rather than gear. Instead of earning loot from monsters, players best avenue for loot was from other players. That seemingly won’t be the case with Diablo 4.
Error 37 - server issues
Players who tried to play Diablo 3 on launch day still remember the the server issues. Many players — ourselves included — sat all night trying to play, only to face down a devilish red box by the name of Error 37.
Barriga said that avoiding these kinds of server issues at launch is almost as important as not recreating the auction house. One of the ways Blizzard plans to combat day-one server instability is through longer beta programs.
“We were pretty protective of our not showing too much of our content and we had a limited beta during Diablo 3,” said Barriga. I think you will see us take a different approach here.”
The team mentioned plans for longterm betas for Diablo 4. We don’t have details of when or what they’ll feature, but the process could be similar to the studio’s beta programs for World of Warcraft — where the upcoming expansion sits on a test environment for months at a time.
Barriga also mentioned plans to seriously stress test Diablo 4 before unleashing it upon millions of hungry fans.
Finally, Adham mentioned a desire to keep the Diablo content flowing post-launch.
“We aspire to generate more content at a higher cadence, and so we’re building out the team from the ground up in service of that,” said Adham.
Diablo 3 had only two notable paid downloadable add-ons over the past eight years: the Reaper of Souls expansion and the Necromancer character class pack. But in terms of free updates, Diablo 3 still sees a balance pass every few months as part of its rotating seasons.
It’s unclear what exactly Blizzard will add over the years of Diablo 4, but post-launch support is a priority for the team this time around.
Blizzard announced Diablo 4 at its BlizzCon 2019 opening ceremony. The studio has yet to reveal a release window for the title, although it is coming to PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One.