Poor Diablo Isn't Compelling Enough
You can almost see the big red guy weeping into his Cheerios. In a statment on Blizzard's forums, Community Manager Bashiok admitted that Blizzard doesn't think Diablo III's current endgame is compelling enough to keep players hooked. The company apparently misjudged how long the game's "item hunt" goals would keep people interested, and though there are still plenty of people playing the game, Blizzard doesn't believe the game as-is will keep these players around as long as it had hoped.
Blizzard plans to add more endgame activities and goals in future Diablo III patches, but it will not be able to keep up with an MMO-style program of content addition. Diablo III isn't actually an MMO, after all, and only has the real-money auction house to generate revenue that allows the company to support the game. Of course, the existence of the real-money auction house means that Blizzard (and no doubt Activision) is particularly interested in how long it keeps a large community of players sticking around, and also has to balance itemization in the game in order to keep the auction house accessible and profitable. It's an interesting predicament, to be sure.
Free, Free, Free!
Now that's not a word we hear very often in game industry news, unless of course we're talking about piracy. Nintendo, though, has provided a number of free items for its recent devices, like the Swapnote application for the 3DS. The company has also confirmed that the Wii U's online service/social network, Miiverse, will be free of charge. This makes sense considering Nintendo's customer base and the fact that the Miiverse will give users game recommendations and other nudges towards making purchases (not that that stops Xbox LIVE from charging for their online service.)
In odder freebie news, various news sites have been reporting on the Ouya, a $99 Android-based game console that's currently in development. Ouya is meant to support hacking and experimentation, and its developers promise that all games on the system will be free to distribute and free to play. It's unclear if this refers to microtransaction-based free-to-play games, or truly free games, though the latter seems unlikely if the console hopes to attract quality games. Developers need and deserve to make a living, after all.
Those are my picks from this week's industry news. It's time for me to get back to tap-tap-tapping on Theatrhythm Final Fantasy.
Date: July 6, 2012
*The views expressed within this article are solely the opinion of the author and do not express the views held by Cheat Code Central. This week's is also purely a work of fiction*