Mass Exodus: Blizzard Entertainment
Chances are if your reading this, you know the name Blizzard has nothing to do with the weather. In fact, before Activision stepped in to purchase the original Blizzard – they were titans of the PC gaming industry.
Formed in the early '90s by three friends from UCLA, Blizzard quickly gained notice in the gaming world and was picked up by Vivendi in 1994, giving them the ability to release the real stepping stones of their identity: Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo.
In the early 2000s you couldn't touch a PC without someone asking if you played one or all of these games, and phone lines around the world were always on busy from people who just couldn't get enough of the Blizzard family of games. Myself included. I personally have spent more time playing Diablo, Diablo II, and now Diablo III than any sane person should. But as time goes on and more and more studios get involved in making blockbuster gaming titles, Blizzard seems to loosing its edge.
In recent weeks Blizzard has lost a combined total of almost 2-million core gamers from it's World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 servers, and the hemorrhaging doesn't seem to be stopping any time soon. Now, as a person who plays Diablo III entirely too much, I know exactly why this is, and your lucky enough to come along for the ride.
That's right, boredom. The word no game publisher ever wants to hear when it comes to their products, but this is exactly why people are leaving so quickly. The lack of end-game content is so apparent. When playing Warcraft, How many times can you really do a raid in hopes of finding a slightly better piece of digital gear? After a while it becomes so repetitious that the rewards are not worth the grind. While Warcraft is better supported due to its "pay to play" nature, it still isn't worth the 15 bucks a month to be tortured in a circle all day.
This is where Diablo III had a chance to shine, it's free to play, and anyone familiar with Diablo II would think Diablo III is a sure bet.
But they'd be wrong.
I was one of those people who stayed up all night on release day to install and be the first on the servers for Diablo III. Well, from day one things went wrong; Release night, the servers crashed and Blizzard spent hours getting them back up, spending further days dedicating more servers to handle the traffic Diablo III was generating. This wasn't the first giant release for Blizzard either. When Warcraft originally came out, it was a disaster. It's bewildering to think a company that was so ill-prepared for a major release would ever make the same mistake twice, yet they did.
This is just the ground work for the overall fail-boat we are riding in. As we played on with the newly minted Diablo III, it was apparent by hour 20 that there was nothing left to do but grind the same 3 levels in the same Act 3 until the end of time. The major bosses in the game are a joke, killing Diablo grants you nothing, even on the hardest of Monster Power levels and it seems like a waste of a Diablo game to be honest. With the recent addition of PVP and the slight tweaks to character skills and items it added some glimmer of hope to such a beloved franchise, but when I opened Diablo II just for old times sake the other day, I was reminded of how it is such a better game and how disappointing the content for Diablo III really was.
Blizzard has had many chances to reel in its core gamers and bring in those on the outside also, but the lack of support and content additions to titles that resonate around the world, shows you how much they really care about their fan base. BlizzCon this year will undoubtedly be full of picket signs and the same questions over and over, "where is the Diablo III expansion ? Why are the items worthless ? What is the deal with the servers ? And finally, what's the deal with these airplane peanuts ?" If their responses on their community forums are any clue to their answer – Meh – will suffice.
I loved Diablo and Diablo II, and was hugely excited for Diablo III too, once upon a time. Now, after being kicked in the nuts and having my lunch money taken, I too will be walking away from the bully I used to love.