Blizzard has published a long-awaited update on its monetization plans for Diablo IV. The short version of the blog post is that Diablo IV will be a full-priced title with an in-game shop and optional seasonal passes. However, the only way to make your characters more powerful will be by playing the game. Here's how monetization will work.
Blizzard plans to structure Diablo IV’s endgame around seasons. The game will feature up to four seasons per year, with the first one launching shortly after the game’s release. Each new season will bring additional features, balance changes and quality of life improvements, as well as new quests to complete and items to collect. As in Diablo II and III, you’ll need to create a new character to participate in the latest season. That said, your previous ones will live on in the game’s “Eternal Realm,” where you can continue playing them.
A byproduct of that schedule is that there will be fewer seasonal passes for players to buy in Diablo IV than in Diablo Immortal and Overwatch 2, where new ones are available to purchase every four and nine weeks, respectively. Each season pass will feature both free and paid tracks. Progressing through the former will earn you rewards that make it easier to level your characters. Specifically, the free tier will award “Season Boosts,” which Blizzard says will accelerate your progress for the duration of that season. You won’t be able to spend money to purchase additional Season Boosts or unlock them at a faster rate.
By contrast, the paid track awards cosmetic items and the game’s premium currency. You can use the latter to purchase cosmetic items through Diablo IV’s in-game shop. “Nothing offered in the Shop grants a direct or indirect gameplay advantage,” said Kegan Clark, Diablo IV director of product. “So, while many of these may look like powerful pieces of gear, they have no in-game stats.”
Additionally, Blizzard claims some of the best-looking armor, weapons and transmorgs – items you can use to change the appearance of a piece of gear – will be found by playing the game. “The Shop offers more diversity of choices, not systematically better choices,” Clark added.
While one could argue purchasable cosmetics go against the spirit of an action RPG series like Diablo, the system previewed Blizzard for Diablo IV at least looks much better than its Diablo Immortal counterpart since it will allow you to mix and match individual items to create your own sets. Additionally, once you buy a premium set for a specific class, you can use the included items on every character of that class on your account.
Separate from the battle pass system is a progression mechanic called the Season Journey (pictured above). Like its Diablo III counterpart, the Season Journey will allow you to earn items and cosmetics by completing chapter tasks. The Season Journey is included with the base game, and filling out its pages will also earn you progress toward the current season pass.
Today’s blog post follows weeks of bad press around Diablo Immortal’s aggressive monetization. At the start of August, YouTuber Jtisallbusiness posted a video complaining that he couldn’t participate in the game’s endgame PVP after spending $100,000 to max out his character. Blizzard later said it would address the issue, but not before JT’s story added to the negative discourse around the game. But for all the vocal complaining around Immortal’s monetization, it doesn’t seem to have affected Blizzard’s bottom line. Eight weeks after release, the game surpassed $100 million in lifetime revenue, making it one of the fastest mobile titles to achieve that feat.