A hardcore raider in my WoW raiding guild said, “I am making my peace. Soon, I will be unsubscribed from this game and playing only Diablo 3.” He expected Diablo 3 to replace his WoW playing. In his context, the replacement is beneficial. Diablo 3 has no monthly fee. Diablo 3 can be played solo (unlike WoW which requires other players to consume the content). Diablo 3 also lacks the time sinks like running/flying to a location since you can just teleport there instantly.
Unfortunately for that ex-raider, Blizzard was aware of this situation and intentionally designed Diablo 3 to be the Anti-WoW. Do you really think Blizzard is naive enough to allow one of their games to cannibalize their MMORPG? Apparently, that ex-raider did think he was getting the smart on Blizzard. So did many other people. But Blizzard showed themselves to be smarter than people thought.
“Why do you think Blizzard was scared of Diablo 3 cannibalizing WoW?”
The delay of Diablo 3 to not be released during a major WoW content patch for one (4.3). Blizzard’s president declaring at Blizzcon to be giving Diablo 3 away for free if you lock yourself into a twelve month contract with WoW is the smoking gun. These companies don’t give their games away for free. Apparently, Blizzard was more interested in keeping people subscribed to WoW than to sell more Diablo 3 copies.
“That is very damning evidence. What else do you have?”
Blizzard North was fired because they tried to turn Diablo 3 into a MMORPG and have it compete with WoW. When Jay Wilson was hired, he talked about how he played Diablo 2 and WoW at the same time. He said he could do this because he played Diablo 2 for the action aspects (that were still RPG). I think it is clear that Blizzard’s top concern for Diablo 3 was it not to cannibalize WoW. Blizzard North wanted to make a MMORPG so they got canned. Jay Wilson comes in saying how he can make them co-exist in his interview, and he gets hired.
“What more do you have?”
In nearly every interview with Jay Wilson about Diablo 3, he differentiates Diablo 3 from WoW. He says things like in Diablo 3, your build can be whatever you wish while in WoW you must answer to the guild. He always mentions WoW specifically and stresses Diablo 3′s differentiation.
“If what you say is true, why would Blizzard be so interested in differentiating Diablo 3 from WoW?”
Hello McFly! Hello! Think, McFly, think! The goal with Diablo 3 is to not sell as many copies as they can but to sell as many copies as they can without cannibalizing World of Warcraft. That is the priority. It is such a priority that consistent WoW players get Diablo 3 for free.
This isn’t unprecedented for Blizzard. When Starcraft was released, it cannibalized sales of Warcraft 2. There was really no reason to play Warcraft 2 after Starcraft. Starcraft was a much better RTS and the only different thing was the themes of one being fantasy and the other being sci-fi.
When Warcraft 3 was made, Blizzard did not want the game to cannibalize Starcraft. How would you differentiate Warcraft 3 from Starcraft? Blizzard decided to make a RPG-RTS game out of Warcraft 3. It didn’t exactly work so they went a more traditional RTS route but the focus remained on heroes. This is why sales of Warcraft 3 did not destroy Starcraft. It was intentionally designed for Warcraft 3 and Starcraft to exist as separate games.
If this is true, then Warcraft 4 will be very different from Starcraft II. I suspect Blizzard will continue their focus on heroes in the game.
“But did WoW and Diablo 2 overlap? Did WoW cannibalize Diablo 2 sales?”
It appears that is the case. I remember a Blizzard employee telling me, during the closed WoW beta, how much more fun this WoW game was compared to Diablo. When WoW came out, it was all the rage. While Diablo 2 was still on the store shelves (just like Warcraft 2 Battle Net Edition was during Starcraft’s era), all the growth was in WoW.
“So this leads you to say that Diablo 3 was designed to be the Anti-WoW.”
Absolutely. It was designed to do things WoW can’t and to not do things that WoW does well.
What is the Endgame of WoW?
“What do you mean?”
Everyone these days says there needs to be an ‘endgame’ for Diablo 3. Endgame is a WoW term. And everyone feels it is their duty to tell Blizzard how to put in an ‘endgame’. Endgame! Endgame! What is it? What does it do? What ought it to do?
“I don’t know. What is WoW’s Endgame? Is it not raiding, progression, and getting better loot?”
It is. So why is that any different than Diablo 3′s Inferno? Is not Diablo 3 about getting through Inferno and getting crazy loot?
“It is. They are the same.”
But there is a difference.
“World of Warcraft relies on social competition.”
And there you have it. All this talk of ‘endgame’ is just a word for ‘social competition’. Some people have so confused social competition with gaming that they cannot think of gaming without it. World of Warcraft relies heavily on social competition of guilds competing with other guilds and players competing with other players. People even farm a mount and go AFK on it in front of the bank so everyone can see it.
It was by intentional design that Diablo 3 not have social competition. That is WoW’s turf. They don’t want Diablo 3 to do the same job that WoW does. This is why there are no ladders. This is why WoW players who live for social competition, such as Kripparian, can think of ‘Endgame’ only in the context of social competition. They want ladders, additional levels that do nothing, more difficulty levels… all to create social competition.
Diablo 3, by its nature, cannot have social competition. Unlike WoW, there are no loot tables. Awesome gear is very random and does not require skills to get. You can open up your checkbook and buy gear off the real money auction house. So what competition can there be?
Did Civilization have social competition? What about Minecraft?
Ironically, what the whiners want is to turn Diablo 3 into a type of isometric WoW. They will deny this, of course, but they desire Diablo 3 to do the same job as WoW does. They want social competition.
From a Jay Wilson interview, we read:
Is the Arena you are developing a lot different from the one we saw at Blizzcon 2011? What about just regular field PvP and other PvP methods?
There are changes to the Arena compared to the blizzcon version but it won’t be too different. We excluded PVP simply because it was not ready and we are also preparing many other things. However it is hard to reveal that in such an early stage of development.
Developers don’t want Diablo 3 to be PvP centered game, what they believe is the game is more PvE co-op heavy.
PvE co-op heavy does not translate to ‘Social Competition’.
Are you going to add public channels or clan/guild support or will it be just like a messenger type like Starcraft 2?
There are currently no plans to make any kind of guild system and our goal is to make a Blizzard experience in to one whole experience so you will be able to chat with your friends playing WoW, Starcraft 2 and Diablo 3.
Why would they make guilds? That is WoW’s turf. So many people want to turn Diablo 3 into a MMORPG.
What’s the expected gameplay time for Diablo 3 from normal to inferno?
Just like MMORPGs it is hard to give a time that will be spent playing this but most testers we had took a few weeks to complete them.
They expected players to take months to go through Diablo 3′s content. The Auction House short circuited this.
Here is what Blizzard has said about PvP with Diablo 3:
We want PvP to be incredibly challenging and fun, but we want to avoid turning it into a truly competitive leagues/ladders eSport. We just don’t think Diablo gameplay is very conducive for that type of controlled environment where balance is paramount.
That said, we want to develop PvP as an engaging and rewarding system. What we don’t want to do is take a traditional eSports approach to PvP, where balance will become so important to a competitive ranking system that solo and cooperative gameplay feel a bit neutered as a result.
We want your characters to feel totally imba. Then we want you to enter some Arenas, send the scorched remains of other players’ corpses flying, and let the satisfaction wash over you — until your opponents take similar care of your hero, that is. ;)
Diablo 3 will not be like Starcraft 2 or WoW’s PvP. There will be no social competition.
There is a Blizzard quote, somewhere, that says that it could be a problem if players organize pvp leagues and ladders on their own.
“So what about Blizzard’s quote about Diablo 3 not having a sustainable endgame?”
People are reading it to say, “Blizzard agrees with us.” But the key word here is sustainable. If Blizzard didn’t believe it, then why did they design the game around it? It is highly likely they think the Auction House made the Endgame unsustainable, not that the game, in and of itself, was unsustainable. After all, there are two expansions planned for Diablo 3.
This doesn’t mean Blizzard won’t put in some form of social competition. It is the easiest way to add value without doing much work. Putting in ladders is easy. Putting in an infinite dungeon is hard. I am very curious to see what Blizzard will do. I suspect the “Endgame” will be pushed back into the upcoming Expansion.
One curious phenomenon is so many Diablo 3 players saying they are tired and want to return to WoW. They admit they found this reaction surprising to them as they thought Diablo 3 would replace WoW.
But this was Blizzard’s plan all along. They aren’t too concerned that people don’t want to continue farming all day. It is why Diablo 3 was released during the drought between WoW expansions. When a Diablo 3 player says, “I’m tired of this game now. I can’t wait for Mists of Pandaria,” they are doing exactly what Blizzard wants.
Above: They want you to buy this.
By the time the MoP expansion lands, how many people will still be complaining about Diablo 3′s “Endgame”? And this is also part of the plan. I expect the pvp patch to land between MoP release and the first content patch.