This year’s ExileCon played host to the founders of Blizzard North, who took to the stage to discuss the state of action RPGs, what the genre’s future looks like, and how the worlds of MMOs and ARPGs are colliding.
Since Blizzard North’s Diablo was introduced to the world in 1996, the action RPG has grown and changed. But despite the impact that Diablo had on the games industry, Blizzard North founders David Brevik, Max Schaefer and Erich Schaefer admit that they didn’t expect its importance, or anticipate how the ARPG genre would develop and change because of their game.
As Max Schaefer describes it, the creation of Diablo was possible purely because technology had developed to a point where their vision and desire to play an ARPG-style game was possible. “We really wanted to play it, so we made it,” Schaefer explained.
This simple fact meant that the team at Blizzard North were able to create a whole video game genre, almost from the ground up. That genre went on to inspire countless other games and franchises, but the Blizzard North team still believes that the ARPG genre has so much room to grow. “We’re just scratching the surface of the genre,” explained Max Schaefer.
The panel went on to discuss how the genre might change in the next 20 years, with Brevik exploring the possibility that collaborative and communication will become integral to the future of ARPGs.
“[Gaming] is a way for people to get together and feel like they belong together,” explained Brevik. “Having a more social experience is what makes games fun… I want to build more relationships with people.”
Brevik explains that MMO elements like online co-op will become essential for ARPGs in the future. Collaborative gaming will help gamers overcome communication barriers and build their teamwork skills, while creating a fun and engaging experience for everyone online.
“We’re still finding the best ways to create a social experience and interact with each other,” Max Schaefer said of the online gaming future.
While we are still in the early days of the online gaming era, it’s clear that the future of ARPGs is changing. A renewed focus on collaboration and co-operation is a logical next step for the genre, as games look to build stronger relationships between their players.
After all, games are powerful tools for bringing people together, and these changes would likely help build new player connections while creating unique and exciting new gaming experiences.
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Full disclosure: This writer attended ExileCon as a guest of Grinding Gear Games.