Blizzard’s Diablo 3
By Cho Mu-hyun
Blizzard Entertainment’s Diablo 3 has seen its popularity plummet due to “poor content.”
“Diablo 3’s place is shaky,” said Kim Min-kyu, a cultural content professor at Ajou University over the phone, Monday. “It is hard to believe that it was made by the people who created World of Warcraft and the StarCraft series. The poor content is really unexpected.”
According to game research firm Gametrics on Monday, the American company’s latest offering fell to third place over the weekend in terms of popularity with 13.39 percent of user time at Internet cafes. NCsoft’s Blade & Soul kept its top position, while Riot Games’ League of Legends, released in December last year, was the runner-up.
“In general, the success of massive multiplayer online role playing games relies on the balance of characters and item abilities. The available characters must be diverse with unique strengths and developers usually balance them out to make sure that no one character is disproportionately sought after. Diablo 3 is vastly lacking in that area.”
Following last month’s launch of Blade & Soul, Blizzard undertook a vast character and item patch to try and find equilibrium in character interest. However, comments posted on the game’s Korean webpage were far from positive. Many believe that the five characters have unequal abilities.
A Blizzard Korea spokesman says another global patch is being prepared that will focus on balancing out the characters, which will “reflect the opinions of users posted on community websites.”
Predecessors Diablo, Diablo 2 and the latter’s expansion pack Lord of Destruction were hailed as masterpieces around the globe when they were released over a decade ago and made substantial contributions in establishing Blizzard’s vaunted reputation.
The company is also well known for its continual maintenance of content through patches, which is crucial for online games to increase their life-spans.
According to Kim, though the company’s latest game did receive some heat for poor server management, the problem will eventually be dealt with by opening more servers. The real factors that will determine the success of Diablo 3 will be content development.
In Korea it also has to contend with issues related to the game’s real money auction system. Blizzard has heavily pushed this feature, which started in the United States on May 23, that allows users to buy and trade in-game items for cash.
The Korean version lacks this service due to opposition from the Games Rating Board because of fears associated with gambling could occur, which the government expressed concerns over potential financial and moral problems. Adopting the feature down the road is highly unlikely as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is planning to proclaim a law banning exchanging game currency into cash in the second half of this year.
“The auction system is garnering vast attention because it is the first of its kind, and though the probability of it being adopted here is very low, it is something that needs to be taken into consideration.”
Blizzard Korea is also facing problems such as an investigation by the Fair Trade Commission on its product return policy and a lawsuit from the Internet PC Culture Association.