Blizzard CEO: We Know Diablo III 'Isn't Perfect'

Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime has addressed player concerns with action roleplaying game Diablo III, promising improvements in a statement on Battle.net today.

Noting that the launch of Blizzard's highly anticipated sequel had "many challenges", Morhaime noted that the team had fixed the majority of technical issues — such as the much-mocked "error 37" issue that prevented players from logging into the game — and promised that the team would continue to address feedback in the near future.

"We are not satisfied with breaking launch records; we want people to continue playing and enjoying Blizzard games for a very long time," he said. "The Diablo III team has made an epic, entertaining, and beautiful gaming experience. That being said, we know that it isn't perfect. Our teams are working hard to improve the game balance, build on our design, and listen to what players are saying to make it the best game it can be."

Morhaime promised new updates to the auction house, new Legendary items and other improvements that will enhance the game's endgame experiences. He also defended the company's controversial decision to make Diablo III an online-only game, calling it "the best way to support" Diablo III's design.

"I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design," he said. "The effectiveness of the online elements — including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components — is tied directly to the online nature of the game.

"These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. That said, there are still improvements we believe we can make to expand the online experience and make co-op play even more rewarding, and this will remain one of our priorities moving forward. Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game."

Here's the post in its entirety:

Dear Diablo Players,

Now that Diablo III has been out for two months, I would like to take a step back and discuss the launch, the feedback from the community, and talk about what the future holds for the game.

We've had an enormous amount of feedback since the launch. I speak for everyone at Blizzard when I say that we appreciate the passion and affection many of you have for the Diablo series. We truly believe "Every Voice Matters," so I want to thank you for sharing your experiences in an effort to help us improve the game. Your support makes it possible for us to continue doing what we do, and we never take that for granted.

The launch week of Diablo III was memorable for many reasons — some positive, and some not so positive. We were thrilled that Diablo III had the biggest PC-game launch ever, surpassing the lifetime sales of Cataclysm (the previous record holder for biggest PC-game launch) in a matter of weeks. We've been floored by the response.

However, the launch had many challenges as well. It has always been difficult to forecast how many players we will have. With World of Warcraft, it was a challenge to handle the immediate demand when we launched back in 2004, and that was just in North America. We eventually expanded to other regions and reached nearly 5 million players by the end of the first year, and there were a lot of growing pains with that. However, we've never gone from 0 to more than 6 million players across multiple continents within a few days with a brand-new game. For Diablo III, we looked at historical sales for Blizzard games and other top-selling PC games and watched preorder numbers. We even upped our estimates to ensure we had additional capacity, or so we thought. In the end, it just wasn't enough, and that is something we will work hard to conquer for future releases.

In response to the immediate and overwhelming demand for the game, the team worked around the clock to support all regions, increase capacity, ship additional hardware to our datacenters, and troubleshoot and fix bugs as they sprang up. While things have by and large been running smoothly for several weeks now, various game-related issues have come up that we have either already responded to or are continuing to investigate (such as the latency issue some of you are experiencing) and make adjustments for. Rather than address every subject individually, I'll just say that even as we work to address or resolve current issues, it's always possible that further issues will crop up. We hope that our actions in the past have demonstrated that above all else, we're committed to delivering an awesome game experience, and we hope you'll have faith that we will continue to keep that commitment and respond to any new or outstanding issues quickly.

We are not satisfied with breaking launch records; we want people to continue playing and enjoying Blizzard games for a very long time. The Diablo III team has made an epic, entertaining, and beautiful gaming experience. That being said, we know that it isn't perfect. Our teams are working hard to improve the game balance, build on our design, and listen to what players are saying to make it the best game it can be.

You've seen some of that work already in patch 1.0.3, and you'll see additional improvements with patch 1.0.4. On the game balance front, this update will contain changes designed to further deliver on the team's goal of promoting "build diversity," with buffs to many rarely used, underpowered class abilities. Another topic we've seen actively discussed is the fact that better, more distinct Legendary items are needed. We agree. Patch 1.0.4 will also include new and improved Legendary items that are more interesting, more powerful, and more epic in ways you probably won't be expecting.

We're also working on a number of interface updates, including social improvements that will allow players to more easily view their friends' achievements, more quickly join games, and more efficiently communicate with each other. In addition, we'll be making updates to the auction house in the future to provide players with better information through tooltips and notices, offer improved search functionality, and more.

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. Black market trading sites can put accounts at risk and create many customer service challenges. We felt that the players themselves also deserved the opportunity to benefit from the extra loot they found, as opposed to having all of the benefit go to the black market/illegal trading organisations. We know the auction house isn't perfect, but with your help and feedback, we'll be able to continue making it a better experience for those who choose to use it. On the flipside, we are also committed to ensuring you have a great experience with Diablo III without feeling like the auction house is mandatory, which was never our intention. Thank you for all the feedback about that.

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, it does help us battle those problems (we have not found any fully functional cracks). More important to us is that the online requirement is critical for the long-term integrity of the game experience. I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design. The effectiveness of the online elements — including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components — is tied directly to the online nature of the game. These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. That said, there are still improvements we believe we can make to expand the online experience and make co-op play even more rewarding, and this will remain one of our priorities moving forward. Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game.

I know many of you are also looking forward to patch 1.1, our PvP update, which will provide new experiences and give you a whole new way to apply the skills you've picked up while battling demons. This patch will also build on the social and auction house changes I mentioned above, and the team will continue to fix bugs and further tune game balance as well.

We're also working on a gameplay system that will provide players who have max-level, high-powered characters new goals to strive for as an alternative to the "item hunt." We're not ready to get into specifics just yet, but I can say that we're actively taking your feedback into account as we plan out the future of the game.

As always, we appreciate your candor and passion. Your constructive feedback and thoughts are valuable — they will continue to help us be a better company. I just want to reiterate that while we can't claim to have ever shipped a perfect game, we are committed to supporting our games relentlessly and making improvements where we can. Thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Mike Morhaime

[Battle.net]


Comments

    Here's the thing though, they can tweak and mod the game all they want but the overall story I just found boring.

    And to say that I need to suffer through that story about 4 times to get to end game per character is a disappointment.

    That and the whole fem-diablo thing just made me feel as if Blizzard are losing their grip on reality.

      Sounds like you've never played a Diablo game before =P

        Actually, this is the first time you CAN'T mod the crap out of your game and character and skip boring shit in a Diablo game. So, it sounds like he's too familiar with the old Diablo - the one which wasn't half-pretending to be a B2P MMO.

      I find it's not just the story, it the overall tone of the game.

      Act 1, the tone is almost that right mix of dark, macabre & grim horror albeit with overly colourful graphics. Then, in Act 2 and especially 3/4 the game becomes flat out goofy. It's almost like different studios designed the two parts. Regardless, it's obvious the whole gothic, cheesy but serious tone of previously Diablo games has been thoroughly ditched.

      It becomes obvious there is a reason that most of the prime evils were mostly mute & why your characters was kept to making sarcastic remarks and one liners in D2. Diablo beretting you with grating "if it wasn't for your meddling kids" dialogue completely ruins the game's tone. Overall the mix of occasional ultra-violence and the overt colourfulness and childish NPC banter gives it an almost surreal and contradictory theme. As if a design house was of two minds, fighting over dominance over the franchise's feel.

      There was just no need to muck with what was not broken to the point that it's hard for me to NOT imagine Activision sitting behind the developers dictating them how well the WoW tone sits with target demographics. There is nothing wrong with WoW existing in its own space with it's own unique identity. There's a problem with creative variety between Blizzard games becoming non-existent because they've caught on to what sells best and decided to stick to that.

      I completely agree. I wanted to love it and at times I did enjoy myself but I can't get myself to play again on another difficulty level.

      I only have played the beta and got bored of that. The story kept me from playing it for long and I felt as if it was dumbed down a bit.

      Diablo 3 could have been an amazing game

    Too late. I'm already bored with the game too much to go back, no matter what they do to it.

      Agreed, I won't be going back. For me the lvl 60 cap killed it. But everyone has their own take on what is good and bad about.

    Picked up Terraria in the Steam sale - A side scrolling minecraft-esque action adventure that pops in at under 19MB. And somehow I'm more engrosed than I ever was with Diablo 3. I know I'll be back to Diablo once the next expansion is out but there really is nothing in it to keep me playing right now.

      Hell Yeah. I love terraria. PLayed so many hours of that with my mate. And hell, all the boss's on that are more interesting than diablo's boss'. I only keep playing diablo because of my mates. I find his statements delusional since the game has some massive shortcomings. eg. Add a fucking lock button for the skills. Nothing worse than losing your lvl 5 valor because you accidently click and drag the taskbar. I can't wait for torchlight 2 or grim dawn so my friends and i can move to something more interesting.

        misclick makes you lose your 5 stack? i'd say L2P, but it seems like you need to learn how to use a mouse. how is this even a valid complaint?

      *16MB =) game saves will add to this of course.

    I had fun with D3 for a while, then it became really stale and grind-tastic in Inferno. I just got bored and moved on. Like poster above me, I've been more captivated by smaller games like Terraria.

    Not going back. Balance is one thing but unless they add new content I don't give a crap.

    God damn this game sucks Once you kill diablo for the first time! Between the Lag, The no end game, Max lvl cap, Crappy items, Crappy drops, Stupid RMAH, Bots, Repair nerfs, drop nerfs, shit i can keep going. Blizz you guys turned one of the best games of all time into a giant pile of shit. How about you take some of the millions you have made from WOW and SC2 and every other game that sells due to the name and actualy make one of them worth playing again!

    Oh and did i mention the god damn lag. Makes Hardcore impossible for aussies. Have had 3 characters die in inferno due to rubber banding back into bullshit on the ground that i moved out of.

    I don't care about being online, I always am, just give us some damn Aussie servers!!!!

    How many copies were sold here? Enough to fund some servers imo.

      Blizzard doesn't do region support. The funny thing is Bioware did with Tor and that was published by EA no less. If EA does region support outside the US/Europe it raises questions why Actiblizzard doesn't...

    Wow, you guys. Have some perspective.

    Sure, there are things about Diablo III that I wish were different, or better, or not-present, but hey, when was the last time any of us came up with a multi-billion-dollar game that was entertaining? Whether it remains entertaining for you is a completely different matter, and quite frankly, I think we should all step down from our high horses and realise that this game, while it might not be what everyone wants, is still super-fun for a short while, or a long while, depending on your gaming style.

    Gotta give Morhaime credit for admitting to all the faults. Keep on keepin' on, Blizz.

      So, if someone doesn't find the game fun, even for a few minutes, then does said person have the right to complain?

        No they don't.
        You do'n't like it? Don't buy/play it. Pretty simple.

        When was the last time blizzard came up with a multi-billion-dollar game? diablo 3 sold what 6 million units. at $100 each that's $600 million. not even 1 billion much less a multi-billion-dollar game. Perhaps the RMAH will push them up but I doubt that much.

      "when was the last time any of us came up with a multi-billion-dollar game that was entertaining"

      Every time someone writes a statement like this, my soul dies a little. It's like saying "when was the last time you designed a $300, 000 Ferrari", as a response to my complaint that the brakes in my Toyota fail.

    So they fixed error 37? Doubt it, I'd chance a guess that the problem resolved itself, since people are abandoning the game in droves. Less traffic, nor more errors. The fact that the game itself is simply not entertaining is the real problem. No thanks Blizz, your games are no longer must-buys.

    Played about 4 weeks of Diablo 3.
    Got bored and stared on Skyrim
    Doubt ill go back now

      Me in a nutshell, after a few weeks I'll never play Diablo 3 again. There were to many issues that irritated me to no end.

    Fun to see all the stories popping up now about how rapidly the Diablo 3 is falling now:
    http://www.gamefront.com/yikes-diablo-3-might-be-bleeding-players/
    http://www.pcgamesn.com/diablo/bottom-falls-out-diablo-3-burger-market-auction-house-prices-tumble-91
    But really, Horadric Hamburgers? Is this like the McDonalds index?

      Correction: * How rapidly the Diablo 3 user base is falling *

      To be perfectly honest i doubt D3 is loosing players that badly. It's the same uproar when WoW lost 1million customers (ONOZ! what shall we do w/ the other 16mil lef behind!) it's all just a matter of perspectives and percentages.

      That being said most of the complaints of it being "un-fun" really boils down to expectations. Diablo has always been a grindy dungeon crawler w/ a multiplayer co-op. The whole point is to go down and do the same dungeons over and over again for loot/exp while you improve your character. Some people like it some don't.

      A LOT of the design decisions has either watered it down (skill sets) and given people false expectations (always online). People are expecting MMO like content when really its still a single player dungeon crawler w/ increasing "difficulty" levels. I've played the demo and it's Diablo all over again w/ a shiney coat of paint and somewhat new story but at the end of the day its still Diablo's click click click click ZOMG! LEWT! gameplay.

        easiest test - go to your friend list and see last log-on. in the first 2 weeks everyone played pretty much everyday. now i have 4 people play every day out of over 50

        this isn't an indication of anything though - you can't expect everyone to keep playing the game forever, and i don't think people should feel entitled that paying $60 ($100+ collectors) means they should get 40+ hours out of the game. the problem is that everyone expected it to be at the very least as good as D2.

        blizzard out-did themselves with D2, and that's the downfall.

    I thought the quality of the acts really slipped the longer you played, act 4 was rather short, dull and felt like something they just tacked on the end. The whole 'have to kill Diablo 3 times by gifting him more life' really urked me and felt like a cheap way to increase the difficulty a bit.

    But ultimately it was the latency that beat me, it just made the game a chore to play. Blizzard clearly only budgeted for a certain number of servers, they figure the community size will eventually shrink back to a level that their infrastructure can manage.

    Lol always online what a funny way to lose sales

      Except it didn't lose sales, it was a well publicised fact before launch, and the game still sold 6 million copies opening day.

    I like the game and i still enjoy it but they have to fix the way loot is generated. For example, a quiver should never have strenght on it as a stat! Also, it gets frustrating when you finally get a level 63 fist weapon or dagger to drop but the dps is only 300!! They should set limits for items so that they are actually useful at the higher levels...

    The game...was in a nutshell a complete let down. I never played one or two, but this, from a "fresh" perspective was yeah, lacking. Repitition in an MMO is acceptable, but not this.

    I also won't be buying Mists of Pandaria as they've completely destroyed the main social aspect of WoW with raid and dungeon finder.

    Blizzard has fallen recently with the joke that was Cataclysm and D3.

      It sad you never got to play 1 or 2.. 1 while aged is good - 2 is just epic. Diablo 3 in no shape or form matches what they accomplished with Diablo 2. Even more so when you account what they again acheived with patch 1.10 for Diablo 2.

      Its a shame, D2 had so much replayability, treasure hunting and co-op was actually fun. D3 just doesnt tick any of the boxes.

        The players are what kills the social aspect in WoW, not Blizzard. For years people were asking for dungeon finder. It has its negatives but sure beats spamming trade chat for hours in order to form a group. Besides that MOP is looking really good right now. The way things are designed its looks like there will be more world pvp in Mists than in every previous expansion combined. Dont let the disappointment of Diablo automatically turn you off Mists. At least give it a try first.

    Have to agree that the game was a let down. I never had many technical issues like some, apart from launch day login.

    I think Mike needs to google 'Epic' as the story was meh at best, and actually got more boring as the game went on. Pacing was back to front. Combine that with needing to play through multiple times to max out your toons was a complete bore. The auction house was like a built in cheat code system.

    The whole online/offline thing was not a big deal for me, there was never many times I had connection issues. When I did I didn't care much because after one play through it was not compelling anyway.

    Hopefully Blizz take heart and release a big ol' free expansion pack as a way to say sorry.

    Diablo 3 presents a social problem for me, I add people as friends but then they keep dropping into every single game you make because theyre bored. It becomes impossible to do anything on your own...
    This tie in to battle.net is what turned the game in to essentially an mmo, where diablo should only be a small private game at a time.

      You can turn off fast join in the options so friends can't just join. When turned on you have to invite them. :D

    “Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design”

    Funny. I enjoyed Diablo 2 immensely with friends, and that had an offline (LAN mode) option. I also have Dungeon Defenders, which can be played offline with friends, I’m sure. And on a competing platform, it has cross-game chat and an easy way to invite people to join your game, even if they’re playing Skyrim – yes, if connected to the internet… but that’s an option that the player has…

    And these games don’t have inescapable lag, either.

    Tell me again how this is the “best way” for people to enjoy Diablo 3.

    Planned to quit WoW for a few months to play Diablo 3. A week later I was back to WoW. The game was fun for the first few days but quickly became a bore. Ultimately what caused its downfall was the fact that it was called Diablo. If this were from another developer with another title people wouldnt be as upset as they are. Years of hype and high expectations ensured that being an OK game was never going to be enough. Oh well.

    Despite the nay sayers I am 2 months on and still enjoying Diablo 3. I haven't progressed past act 2 inferno but I decided to change character and try a different approach. I'll still be playing this for a long time yet.

    I wanted a Diablo game and a Diablo game I got.

    I just didn't find Diablo 3 interesting. I stopped part way through Act II on normal difficulty.

    I grabbed Torchlight and am loving it. Sure it doesn't take itself seriously, but the amount of loot dropped is awesome. There's always stuff to sift through and already have a bunch of set items even though I'm only level 25. Diablo 3 is a grind fest without the loot drops.

    Half of you really should not be commenting ... Im not saying Diablo is perfect its just a game and if it wasn't for Diablo 2 this one would probably be low on a radar. however all the issues that ppl cry about here are joke ...
    Glitches and lags ... havent had any for weeks
    loot drops - u kidding me? its too much of it and whats with set items ? if everyone would be running in set items what would be so special about them... I got full case of yellows so what ?
    short game play - fair enough but I still got hope they release some more at some stage, all the patches comming out here and there fixing more and more issues that ppl have ...

    All I get from this sort of crap is "blah blah you should still give vivendi your money even though we don't give a flying fuck about your opinion if it doesn't align with ours" - I know, it's almost ironic. It's, perhaps, hypocritical. I'm not the one who already had an audience and gave a large slice of them the finger, though.

    Many, many people only see the hype when these sort of games launch. Of course someone can have fun playing the game, it is entertainment.

    Diablo 3 was missing so much of the content item-wise that Diablo 2 had. The runes, the rune words, the sockets and gems. Sure, 4 of the gems returned and sockets are still there but they're shadows of their former selves. As far as items goes, the game has WAY less prefixes and suffixes than Diablo 2, and that was something that really stood out in the first week.

    I got a good 200 hours, maybe 300? out of it, playing all the characters to some extent, getting two really high and one of those up to 60 and inferno, but after all is said and done, I do feel disappointed in the game. I have no draw to go back. Did I get my money's worth? I think so, but compared to Diablo 2 and even Diablo 1, my hour/dollar is way too low.

    The story really seemed to be lacking, too. I don't know how to describe it, I guess it felt really simple. Diablo 2, Cain needs you to find a cube, a staff and an amulet, so then you can craft them together with the cube. Diablo 3, you find 3 sword pieces that you don't really carry at all (fair enough, I guess) and then Cain crafts them together with until-now-unmentioned magic he is capable of using. Not even an allusion to the Horadric Cube, it was just "sword is together, go do the next part of the story" It just felt like they took a lot of shortcuts with the story. It felt like they wanted to rush you through it.

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