Diablo III Suffers From A Common Video Game Plague: It Ends

Regardless of how good a game might be, regardless of how many hours of entertainment it provides, a game that dares to end is a game that has damned itself. We don't want our games to end, and the recent complaints around the Diablo III endgame are a testament to that desire.

Taking a look at a thread on the Blizzard forums reveals players who felt robbed on their $US60 dollar purchase despite wringing hundreds upon hundreds of hours of play-time. Hours of play time from a single-player game that isn't meant to continually update with new content like an MMO would. Hours of content for a game that lacks something like a "season pass", or a subscription that would pay for additional content.

What gives?

I don't think it's entitlement. I don't think people are expecting Diablo III to be something it's not -- an MMO, for instance. I think this is the natural outcome of an audience that has been weaned on games as services. Games that do not just end.

This is true even when artistic vision begs the user to consider a definite ending, like in the case of Fallout 3. Nope, there's no room for artistic vision -- not if it gets in the way of a player engulfing themselves in their universe of choice. Bethesda undid the original ending of Fallout 3 so that players could continue their adventures for as long as they wanted to.

It makes sense that players are expecting more than what Diablo III currently provides. This is the type of audience the gaming industry -- with its day1 DLC and long-term content plans -- has primed. An audience hungry for more, because there always is more.

I'd go as far as to say that games like Diablo III are already somewhat complicit in that reality. Games that have procedurally generated elements have greater replay value, and if a player doesn't lose interest, the game does its best to provide "new" material to stay engaged with indefinitely.

Consider, too, that design sees constant player engagement as the holy grail. If a game doesn't provide content in equal measure, however, then creating a game that knows how to keep users playing is useless.

You can't create an environment like that and wonder why users clamor for more. Of course 500+ hours of content is not enough. 500+ hours is still a game that ends.

From a business perspective, this is great news. It means there's an audience that is very eager to keep playing, possibly keep paying to make that happen. Of course, there's a benefit to the player, too. Games can go on for as long as someone is willing to play them.

We know all of this. What I'd like to consider for a second is the long-term implications of an industry that works this way.

Creating games that do not end is the tip of the iceberg. Ultimately, I see everything in a game working toward endless engagement. Imagine an industry that creates experiences that are constantly evolving. Imagine returning to a game you played as a child and finding that it speaks to your adult sensitivities -- not through nostalgia, but through a game that grew up with you.

Imagine being able to interact with artificial intelligence sophisticated enough that we don't have just static characters, but dynamic ones that we can really get to know. Something that might resemble a person. We already find characters incredibly compelling, already find it difficult to say goodbye. I don't think it's going to get any easier.

Imagine a reality where the hardest choice a player can make is the decision to stop playing.

Right now, development is not agile enough to meet consumer demand: it takes months for content to be produced. This is why development of DLC often happens in-tandem with development of the game proper. As tools get better, that might not be the case in the future.

For now, nobody wants a game that ends.


Comments

    I want games that end!! How else would I ever get through my pile of shame?

      Also, story-driven gameplay > endless grinding

        +1 again, well said.
        I have consistantly found I cannot play MMOs as they just don't have a storyline that is really aproachable.

      +over 9000.
      One of my favourite games is Mirror's Edge (yes, I know everyone else hates it). I like it because it only take 4-5 hours for a single playthrough so I feel I've accomplished something in a night or weekend. I've played it 3-4 times now.
      I loved the Mass Effect series but I got ME3 when it came out, and it took me 2-3 months to finish it as I just don't have time!! And it's only going to get worse when kids come along :(

        I love mirrors edge cause I'm to fat to paramour in real life. :(

          I think you mean parkour...

            He must referring to the mass effect achievement...

            He must be referring to the mass effect achievement...

    I got two characters to 60, spent about 200 hours. I'm done. Happy with that purchase. Playing Lollipop Chainsaw now.

    You shot for the target and completely missed.

    The issue with Diablo 3 isn't that it ends, it's that there is no incentive to keep searching for the phat loots. The auction house destroys the need to go through multiple runs on bosses in order to complete an item set to get that super cool weapon because you can just farm gold and by it at the auction house; or pay real money.

    Diablo 2's attraction was trying to locate those rare items yourself, or trade them with other players in game. You didn't simple search for them, it was all luck and that's what kept you doing those ACT 4 Diablo runs over and over again.

      Yup you hit the nail on the head. Diablo 2 is still a much more enjoyable game to play than D3 imo. So much so that me and my Diablo friends have gone back to playing D2.

    This is the worst piece of satire I've read. I expect this kind of garbage from Jim Sterling and never thought Kotaku would ever stoop to Demonoid levels of reporting.

    Sorry, Fallout 3's ending had nothing to do with 'artistic vision', it was just horrible, inconsistent writing.

      This comment has been deemed inappropriate and has been deleted.

        *You're

    apart from that Cain who's the world expert on Diablo doesn't know that Leah is his offspring, everyone entrusts her with the black soulstone despite all her spells fizzle & nobody is guarding her. Tyrael is only good for opening doors, destroying holy ground and raising an army of undead when he crashes...yet is accepted back to heaven and given the title of WISDOM? Cool Storyline Bro, but that's Blizzard for ya.

    I played Diablo 2 through several times and loved it.
    I haven't even made it to Act IV in Diablo 3.
    I got bored and hate the "always on" requirement and lag - just frustrating
    I am now installing Torchlight as I've never played it.

    Most people these days see Blizzard on the tag, and think WoW straight away. So they expect it to be somewhat like it. I got half way through Inferno, and gave up 2 weeks ago, after the attack speed nerf. It's a grinding/farming kinda game and they just continue to nerf it even more. Why the fuck nerf the point of the game? 10 years for errors/glitches/bugs/constant server lag/nerf nerf nerf/ RMAH, for you to waste even more money.

    I'm not sure where the article's author gets his ideas from but ending wasn't my problem with diablo 3.
    Rather it was disappointment that I was expecting a sequel to diablo.
    Diablo 3 definitely isn't that, it isn't just the changed art style or music either.
    Though the lack of the usual diablo symbols and music style was jaring.

    The whole tempo of the game was broken.
    From the lack of real runes and interesting gems, to the fact the characters don't really use there main attacks ever, to the spelled being less than impressive, to the auction house destroying both the crafting and the emotional impact of looting. Diablo 3 was a game written by talented people who didn't get or understand what the game was about.

    It was more a game trying to ape the diablo franchise which it had only heard of.
    And for those who say my expectations were too high due to waiting 12 years I just have to point out that blizzard choose to shut down blizzard north and start again all those years ago.
    Causing the delay and abandoning what made diablo great.

    They really gimped the items in comparison to Diablo 2, there's just so much less variety.

    There is some truth to this article.
    What I would bring up however is the longevity of the ending/replayability in regards to gaming.
    Take Diablo III. I played it and enjoyed it however when it came to "finishing it" (which I did on 3 of the 4 difficulties) I came to the realisation that the game was artificially extended, and not by the loot grind, that was something I expected when I purchased the game.

    If you take any RPG title (JRPG or WRPG) they feel satisfying to complete when you get to the end (ME3 not withstanding) you have a quest, you are made aware of what your goal is at some point during the story and when it comes to you are given warning and told either subtly or directly that this is the time to get your completionist on, do sidequests, grind levels, find treasures etc. to increase your sense of fulfillment when you finally do hit the end credits. Closure to a story is one of the main reasons you stuck with the game and it is in the telling of that story that we find some sort of emotional investment in the events that play out.

    If we go back to Diablo III, the story was as basic as it comes, the twists were announced by captain obvious long before they occurred and lets be perfectly honest, you could skip any semblance of story telling throughout the game so that when you finally did kill Diablo, you felt nothing anyway. Therein lies the truth of this article. We don't want a game like D3 to end because when it does, we feel like it was a waste of time as it didn't make an impact on us. FFXIII was another offender in this category.

    wait wait wait time out.

    "nobody wants a game that ends"???

    Seriously? I never play MMORPGs specifically because they never end. Try watching a movie which never ends. I want my games to go through a life cycle of beginning - build up - climax - end.

    Even games which don't technically have an "end" go through this cycle. A fighting game ends after someone wins 2 out of 5 rounds. A racing game ends when everyone crosses the finish line.

    A game with no end eventually takes the fun out of the equation. Some people who invest so much time into a game continue to play not because they enjoy it as much, but because they just can't let go of all the effort they've put in. Some people simply get bored and leave the game, but then is that how you want your game to end? Out of boredom?

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