Friday 22 February 2013

Dear Money

Dear Money,

Now that we've ignored your feedback for months and we aren't making as much money on the RMAH as we hoped, I would like to take a step back and discuss how we can molest your wallets more effectively.

We've had an enormous amount of complaints since the launch. I speak for everyone at Blizzard when I say that you are loud and annoying and we hate you. We truly believe "Every Dollar Matters," so I want to thank you for sharing your experiences in an effort to help us figure out how to be more subtle in our gouging. Your money makes it possible for us to continue developing Brother Kotick's vision of a micro transaction utopia, and we never take that for granted.

The launch week of Diablo III was obviously a debacle. The positive was that we made nine-hundred trillion dollars, the not so positive is that you couldn't play the game. We were thrilled that Diablo III made all of the money ever (topping even our most recent debacle). We've been so floored by the response that we all took three week vacations in small island countries and bought BMWs with toilets built into the seats. Frank Little in accounting bought a lifetime subscription to Cherry Trees Weekly. Guy's weird.

The launch had many challenges, chief among those being our insistence on always-online, our inability to properly gauge demand, our logistical incompetence in meeting demand and our unwillingness to spend the money necessary to ensure that we only "double it" when it comes to untested game mechanics, never to hardware infrastructure. However, I do not wish to apologize for the misstep--after all, it wasn't us who crashed our servers for three days straight. You did that. We will do our absolute minimum to conquer this for future releases if we feel like it.

In response to the immediate and overwhelming demand for a faithful followup to Diablo II, the team did everything they should have done a month previous to allow players to play the game they paid for. Despite these efforts, you keep crashing our servers by your insistence on playing the game. Rather than address this directly, I'll just say that even as we work to drive you away from the game and into the less-hardware-intensive Auction Houses, it's a sure bet your hardcore characters will die from lag spikes and server outages. We hope that our actions in the past have demonstrated that above all else, we're committed to keeping you paying for anything we make, no matter how rotten and cynical it actually is. Have faith and you will be rewarded. With $5.

We are not satisfied with only making nine-hundred trillion dollars; we want people to continue paying for Blizzard games for a very long time. The Diablo III team has made a passable, lukewarm and aesthetically pleasing experience. As such, our teams are working hard to fill in the gaps with all sorts of ancillary stuff. Kind of like how the frog DNA in Jurassic Park filled in the gaps in the dinosaur DNA and caused the dinosaurs to spontaneously change sexes. This is why Diablo is a woman. Because of the frogs.

You've seen some of that work already in patch 1.0.7, and you'll see additional "improvements" with patch 1.0.8. On the game balance front, this update will contain changes designed to further treat this game like WoW. We know that the "2 trillion builds" we touted before launch was perhaps a bit optimistic, but we would realistically like to get that number up to five. Maybe six. Per class. Another topic we’ve seen actively discussed is the fact that better, more distinct Legendary items are needed. We agree. I have no explanation whatsoever for why a lot of legendary items have been useless for months, but Patch 1.0.8 will include new and improved Legendary items that are more interesting, more powerful, and more epic in ways you probably (hopefully) won’t be expecting, like extra frost damage or reflects damage back at attacker.

We're also working on a number of features that already exist, such as chatting with your friends, joining their games and seeing their achievements. In addition, we will be constantly improving the auction house since we know that's like super duper important to you all. This is how your money is being used. Thought you should know.

Regarding the real-money auction house, our primary goal for including this in the game was to provide convenience and peace of mind for those players who might otherwise turn to third-party services to buy items. Unfortunately that goal got lost when the guy in charge of itemization, Ned, had a stroke and the part of his brain that makes game design decisions leaked out his ears and into his cereal. Also, Ned has a hard time eating cereal anymore because the brains made him sick. Pray for Ned, please.

Anyway, the RMAH was created to protect you. We needed to keep you safe from the big, scary black market sites that all of you would, of course, be going to for items you couldn't find in-game because of Ned and his bad choices. It was never our intention for you to feel like the auction house is mandatory, so stop feeling like that. What are you, an idiot? We did it for your own good! Now you understand and we can all move on together.

One other common topic we’ve seen in the forums is the always-connected experience, and the perception that the online requirement is nothing but an ineffective form of copy protection that has already been cracked. While we’ve never said that this requirement guarantees that there will be no cheating or game cracks, we did strongly imply it was necessary because of all the cheating and cracks in Diablo II. Seeing that cheating and cracks still exist, we would like to divert your attention to this cute bunny:

Diablo III's always-connected requirement is necessary for, like, the integrity of the experience. If someone knows what that means, please email us. It's also necessary for us to support you playing with your friends (even if you don't have any), because we don't want you doing that yourself via a LAN. LANs are scary. A LAN once ate my friend. It's true. Look it up.

I know many of you are also looking forward to patch 1.1, our arena PvP update, which will come out in maybe 6 more months. We wouldn't want to just flip the switch and let people just attack each other. That would be a disaster! Instead, the arena PvP we will provide will create a wonderful, controlled and constrained arena combat experience which will satisfy WoW players, which seems to be our primary demographic for some weird reason. For now, you can just accept brawling as our apology for the shit we stepped in.

We're also doing some other things and stuff. It's going to be awesome. We can't give out any specifics but get excited!

As always, we pretend to care about your feedback and do whatever we want regardless. Just think of us as Congress. The Congress of Fun™, Suck on that!

Always yours my sweet, sugary doves,

Mike Morhaime