This week patch 1.0.3 landed on the Diablo III servers, and while there was a great deal to be excited about, there was even more that came to mind as a major concern. Now keep in mind this is an opinion piece, and these views are my own. I discussed my thoughts with our Managing Editor, Michael Futter, and he could see the rationale behind my desire to write this, and I hope to spark debate on both sides of the line here. First though, a little bit about my history with Diablo as a franchise. I started playing the original Diablo the day the demo hit years and years ago. My friends and I spent countless hours, literally, running through the demo until the day the game launched. Upon launch we played that version for months on end without even looking at another game. Our love of it finally started to taper off about a year and a half later and we would go back to it on some occasions for a month at a time. Upon the launch of Diablo II our lives were again taken over with the constant hunt for loot. Through all of the patches, updates and the expansion we hunted for every piece of loot we could possibly find. I didn’t play it like some did for a decade, but we did spend a good four or five years on and off playing through all the way, farming the final acts for the best gear, then taking short breaks to play lesser games.

With Diablo III, I have a level 60 monk and wizard both rocking Act II and III Inferno difficulty, pre-patch. Once the patch hit, I logged in with my wizard and had a great time. The mobs were significantly easier to fight, and though there was a bit of face rolling through most of the groups, some required strategy and thought. Much of this was due to a rather broken spec, that even with the attack speed nerd (Patch 1.0.3 cuts attack speed item buffs in half) was holding up okay. Once I added more critical chance to the build and dropped a little attack speed, it was more or less a cake walk again. It’s not easy in the same way normal and nightmare difficulties are, but easy enough that I didn’t log off in anger, instead, just exhausted from the constant focus the game required in Inferno.

Things seemed to be going very well for patch 1.0.3, and I was pleased with the changes that were made. Then I looked at the time. I had been farming Act III Inferno, with five stacks of valor, making my magic find % in the high 200’s. Yet the only town runs I made were to repair items from durability loss and deaths. I never sold any gear. At the end of the two hour session I had just about filled up my inventory. Now last weekend, when hanging out with my regular dungeoneering party, we were making town runs every twenty to thirty minutes because so much loot would drop. We had pretty similar magic find % in those runs as it averages out, so some of the changes in 1.0.3 were, in short, bad.

You see, magic find is an integral part of any gear hunt. You need to find gear that provides essential stats as well as magic find stats because this is a dungeon delving game. Loot is king. Magic find gives you a better chance to get more loot. Yes, you can cry random number generator all you want and say it was just a bad session, but it has happened two more times in similar ways. Part of the reason is your magic find % does not affect chests, and barrels and other destructible objects have no chance of dropping items anymore. So as I, and my team, murder mob after mob, because that is how we like to play the game, then stumble on a resplendent chest, we know not to get our hopes up. Instead, we think back to the players that would skip mobs for chests and smash barrels for loot to gear up to fight mobs.

It seems Blizzard does not think that treasure hunting (as opposed to demon slaying) is a fun way to play, so they killed it. I don’t blame those who played that way, Inferno was rough and without any chance of gearing up except through spending gold or cash in the auction house, or great deals of luck, the chances of you ever getting through the brick wall that was Act II Inferno were slim to none. Besides, it is how those players wanted to spend their time in Sanctuary. They own the game, they can play like they want. The issue I do have is with Blizzard deciding what is fun and what is not fun. But then I started thinking a little more on the subject. Why do they care how easy it is to get loot? Diablo II had plenty of ways to acquire loot quickly, and it was never smashed in the face like it was with this patch. Then when I logged out of the game, I saw it. Right there, in that familiar Diablo font: Auction House.

I’m trying so hard not to be a cynic here, but it seems to me that Diablo and Diablo II fed loot to players at such a rapid rate that it was just silly. Diablo III seems to be trying to keep you from getting a constant string of loot going. Then I realized that I had made and spent about 30 dollars on the RMAH. Of that, Blizzard made a dollar off each transaction plus 15% and whatever else. I really hate to go down this path. I completely understand that this is a cynical view that sounds like a guy whining about a change he doesn’t like. But it is much more than that. It is about the practices that a company puts in place that affect both their reputation and the integrity of the product.

Action RPG’s by their very nature are not exciting games that keep you incredibly engaged. They generally have you spamming your skills and clicking on bad guys to find new loot. For guys like me, that’s a dream come true. After a day of writing, child care, house cleaning and all the other stresses that come with the day, I want to find some hot new loot. I play Magic for the same reasons. Each pack of cards is a chance at something new, exciting and valuable. In it’s current state, a traditional player, like me, is punished by what Blizzard deems to be practices that lack in fun. The actions of a few have ruined the game for the masses.

Again, this is not a bash on those that used ways to enhance the rate at which they obtained loot. Instead it is focusing on the fact that loot is now a commodity that Blizzard and their parent company, Activision, have a vested interest in. By controlling the speed in which the players that are most likely to spend real cash are able to gear and find loot, they force us into a place where we have to dig through a cumbersome auction house to find the specific items we need to continue on with our goals. So the question here is, “Did the auction house, both gold and real money, ruin what Diablo stands for?”

I want to end on a positive note. Blizzard has had an exemplary track record with their products. Quite a few have been cancelled because the company did not feel they would meet the high standards fans have come to expect. Now that they have a higher power to answer to, it seems that money is key. Activision is notorious for squeezing wallets of those willing to pay for many things that should be offered in good faith to customers. I have owned every single Blizzard game that has ever been made and smiled when I saw that Blackthorne got his own set of armor and gear in Diablo III. After so many years, one game and some questionable practices has made me question my undying loyalty to a company that I felt could do no wrong.

Hopefully I am completely wrong here and this is just a bump in the road for Blizzard. They are notorious for constantly patching and balancing their games for years after release, and this may have just been a huge mistake on their side in which they over-nerfed too many aspects of the game at once. I hope I’m wrong about the motives behind the recent changes, and I think the company will quickly learn that allowing the players to play how they want is always the best idea. What the future may hold for Diablo III is unknown, but I’ll keep my eye on it with a hopeful twinkle that it will become another one of Blizzard’s legendary titles. In the mean time, I will be stepping away from the game much more than I otherwise would. Without some communication and a little understanding about the players’ desires, Diablo III will never be what it should. If Blizzard was still independent, I would hazard to guess that we wouldn’t even be playing the game yet. I still stand by my review score of 9.5, as the game was amazing for the first few weeks. After time in Inferno, and now this patch, I would probably just take the square root of that and run with it. In a future opinion piece, I may go in the other direction. It all comes down to what Blizzard chooses to do.

We reached out to Blizzard for comment and were provided with a few pieces of information. (This is the same information that inspired this article)


Ultimately, we think players running around with an entire set of Magic Find gear and swapping out those pieces every time they want to open a chest, smash a pot, or click on a weapon rack isn’t really all that fun, and we didn’t want the game’s mechanics to make players feel like they needed to do that in order to be the most efficient. We also don’t want players avoiding fighting monsters just to run after shiny clicky things (we want you to do both). In both situations, this is something we wanted to discourage and we implemented changes we felt would accomplish this.

We’re already working on another developer blog that delves more deeply in to our current philosophy regarding Magic Find gear swapping, why it’s our current philosophy, and how we’re looking at improving Magic Find in general, so that will probably provide insight on this particular topic. No solid date on that blog yet, but it’s definitely coming soon(tm).

This is a fair enough statement, but the problem still comes in the restrictive way that they force players to play. In addition we were pointed to the developer blog about the patch, which was written shortly before the patch actually launched. You can find that here. Finally, we were directed to information found on with this reply concerning repair costs.

No one is going to like additional repair costs. I’m not sure how any feedback would be “Great, I really love paying more for repair costs.” however, we have seen enough feedback and data to show that the ratio is pretty good as long as people aren’t throwing their character’s corpses against enemies. Death has meant nothing for a very long time now, and it’s going to take some getting used to and just understanding that death is no longer something that just happens, it should be something you’re really fighting to avoid, and potentially being smarter about tackling content you can actually tackle.

That said, we think the normal wear and tear is maybe too high. Just fighting is probably too expensive, and we’re looking at potential adjustments there.

Hopefully this will do something to help out a bit with the normal wear and tear that players accrue as they play, but it is far from a fix for the extreme costs that are levied on players for making a mistake and dying. I think a fear of dying in the game is fine, but when it gets to the point that I can’t sell the loot to vendors, or on the AH because of such a slow drop rate in gear, it still points me to my thoughts on a need to use real money to gear. Gold is entirely too hard to find if you don’t play flawlessly and I don’t play Diablo III to show off my skills in video games. I play it for that rush of the possibility of finding an amazing piece of gear. Until these issues are fixed, my points are not overcome by these few replies to the outcry from fans.

A final concerning piece of information comes from what seems to be a huge decline in player base. I have no hard numbers or proof to show you, just my own observations. Before the patch, public games numbered in the 200k range, and now they hit the 2k range. It seems that, while maybe not all for the same reasons, players are not enjoying the new iteration of the game.

Your comments are appreciated. A thoughtful and civil discussion should be held. Maybe, just maybe, Blizzard will put their eyes on it and see this more as a concerned fan hoping not to lose their love for their favorite company and not a jaded gamer just wanting to moan about changes he didn’t like. Keep it civil and chime in with your thoughts. Hopefully we can come back here in a couple weeks and laugh at this little bump in the road. Currently, the plane is starting to lose power and without something drastic we may be seeing a crash sooner than anyone would have guessed.


  1. In response to the question posed in the title I would say, ‘Yes, yes it has.’
    The ramp up to max level is a joke, they took too much from WoW and now the phrase ‘Where life begins at 60.’ is returning. I never had a level 99 character in D2 but I played the heck out of that game. Now with D3 I have one 60 and have zero desire to continue. For players like myself who had fun in the early to mid levels playing up new characters and builds in D2 we really have no place in the world of D3.

    • I agree, majorly because of the absence of loot like sets or low level legendary, of which I only found 1 during my entire sprint to 60. The grind to 60 was just a mindless mob slashfest swapping out the next best rare or blue. Whereas in D2, it was a pretty awesome feeling to have a set of Sigons waiting for your barb when he reached level 20, and that gear would last you a good while

    • I agree. The way the have it there is no point to keep playing the game. With no more leveling past 60(why 60?) there is not way to improve except by incredible loot. With loot so hard to find, and ridiculous unregulated auction prices, it just becomes a catch-22 to upgrade. I have had a level 60 barb and wiz(pre-patch) and was anxiously awaiting the patch. Now the patch is here, and I am still just as frustrated and bored with the game. I played D2 for years, because it kept me engaged. After i have repeated the same exact levels/quests/acts for the 850th time, it gets old. D3 screwed up bad by making the game so short, the leveling too easy, and get ultimate gear too hard to get. The game quits being fun shortly after level 60.

  2. I absolutely agree with the sentiment that the changes are designed to herd us towards the RMAH.  Since the patch, I’ve found myself amazed at, for the first time, an RPG where the more I played and challenged myself, the poorer I got.  With the astronomical repair increase and the incredible devaluation in gold/magic find, I guess the only way to progress at this point is to open up the wallets again–for a game I just spent 60$ on a month ago.  Unfortunately, while it may come as a disappointment, there is very little surprise here.  Next up, gold sales for cash-money at auction…

  3. I sign on now for the arbitrage on both the gold and real money ah. The game, not worth it. I agree with the author, I loathe the zero sum game at the end of a run.

  4. I agree that the Auction House has ruined the game. I completely love the game, and I am having lots of fun with it. But I am also having lots of anguish with it. The new patch FINALLY fixed the fact that farming Act 1 Inferno was useless and stupid. However, I was sucked in by the Auction House. I hit Act 1 Inferno, and found that… I needed Act 2 gear and up to even play. So what does any human who is not a glutton for pain do? Go to the Auction House. And I did. I bought a full set of gear, and I was ready to go. I got all the way through Act 2 skipping 90% of the elite packs. I got all the way to Heart of Sin in Act 3, and decided that dying every 20 seconds wasn’t fun. So back to Act 1 to buy more gear from the Auction House. And looking back now, I ruined the game for myself. I wanted a Diablo where I MYSELF found the gear that was badass and I would spend the time to get geared. But I copped out and used the Auction House, which let’s be real, was the only real way to get gear beyond cheesing and letting Tyrael kill stuff for you or 300% magic find barrel runs. But to be honest I can always just play an alt and NOT use the auction house to gear him. So to close, I agree that the Auction House has ruined the game, especially Blizzard-Activision’s hidden agenda with the RMAH. What a load of crock. They dropped the ball hard. 

    • I can say a friend and I are playing HardCore without using the auction house besides to sell stuff and it is a bit more fun, but there is still something about the fact that loot suffers due to the need of AH type loot balancing that hurts the game.

  5. It would be interesting to know the numbers of players who have played since day one that haven’t had ONE legendary drop, like me, after playing multiple toons who also play WoW and have autopay set up. What I am insinuating, just my opinion, is what if Blizzard intentionally has it that way becasue they know we have easier access to buy something from the RMAH? ITs a wild notion, but, honestly, think the RMAH is stupid. I am not going to pay kit up my toons in a video game. Soon we will be able to buy gold from the RMAH…then what?

    • Don’t feel bad if you haven’t had any legendaries drop. I’ve had 4 drop and they were all worse than the rares I had.

  6. I refuse to pay “real” money at the AH, but I am getting the sense and am doubtful that I will be able to get far past the Act I in inferno (current). I understand that the developing and maintaing the game cost money and once the rush of buying the game is over they need a bit of a revenue coming from current players, but it a bit of a low blow… I will keep playing but Diablo 3 has lost it’s lustre for me. Good drops are a reward for the time and “effort” spent playing, but currently the rate is is just bad bad bad. The incentive to keep going is thin…

  7. The RMAH hasn’t ruined D3 just yet, but it is well on it’s way.  Between increased repair costs, reduction in loot/gold aquired, and simply the extreme randomness of gear and very specific gear requirements, everything points to Blizzard pigeon holing people into using the RMAH to gear up, or to simply play and progress.  The game very much reminds me of a F2P game, where they nickel and dime you to death, except I’ve already paid $60 for it. 

    Players wanting to progress through inferno for the first time will have two choices.  Either A) farm for gold and gear for hundreds of hours to get the gear necessary to advance, or B) visit the RMAH and buy what they need.  For most, option “A” isn’t really much of an option.  Also, option “A” has also been severely nerfed, and anyone trying to progress will end up with far less resources than they began with.  Thus necessitating either, many more hours of mindless farming, or another trip to the RMAH.  It’s easy to see that the entire game was designed and balanced around squeezing as much out of the RMAH as possible.  Ultimately, if the current course is continued, the game will only be worth playing to those who don’t mind pay to win games, and constantly paying, or those who are very lucky.

    • The game has moved more towards an MMO style of Action RPG and it is leading me to Path of Exile more each day. I want Diablo III to succeed. A few friends won’t leave it and it is the best place for us to hang and keep in touch, but without some significant changes things just wont be the same as previous Diablo titles. I still have faith in Blizzard, it just isn’t blind like it used to be.

  8. Im glad i found this post. for the last few weeks ive said to myself that the only reason they limit the way we play is entirely based on an in game economy….. the AH. this game needs to b focused on farming for loot, not farming for gold because loot doesnt drop. it seems all the changes in this game are made to stabalize the economy. they wouldnt need to nerf pots if we didnt need to buy stuff on the AH. gold was always for repairs only, and loot was always able to be farmed. get rid of the AH and make loot farming better, save this game and let us have fun please.

  9. Sounds like a whiny house husband. The point of the auction house (and Steam Workshop, etc.) is to help folks such as yourself in real life (adults that have a lifestyle revolving around games, etc.) and give some validity to the daily hours and hours most nerd adults spend in their games, by offering them a means to create a return or income, even if only a small amount. It’s a move to legitimize games as a positive thing in an adults’ life instead of what games are now…just a mindless life sink for fragile nerd adults using what they grew up on to supplement emotional daily needs. If the game could provide a few hundred dollars or more a month to you, your family, etc…that’s real income…that’s real assistance and, it makes the game much more valid as a productive pastime. Right now…games are simply stealing these nerd adults’ lives with no return outside the individual emotional gratification they perceive.

    • Though I smell Troll – I’ll respond. There are other ways to make money off video games. For me, I’m a writer, I write about tons of things, and I write about video games. I make a solid income in my “real” writing, and I enhance my skills by writing about video games. When a game comes out – especially something like Diablo III – or when Path of Exile goes open beta, you can bet I’ll sink tons of hours in it. For the times between, which is most of the year, I write, raise a child, earn a degree, and enjoy other hobbies which include my family. I don’t need my video games to give me a way to make money – they are the hobby I spend money on. If the chance for me to bring in a little cash is going to compromise the integrity of the game – I say leave it out.

      And though it may seem my lifestyle revolves around games, it actually revolves around my daughter and my education. Games are a way that I can keep in touch with friends – after the kid is asleep each night for a few hours before I crash – and blow off the steam that rises. I only spend a handful of hours on the site – if you were a regular follower of mine you would notice my actual writing has declined a great deal. Instead – I edit and write up posts like these. 

  10. Great article. Sadly I don’t think Blizzard will right the ship for a single reason: Activision. Anyone who’s followed the situation between Activision and Jason West and Vince Zampella has a pretty good idea of how scummy that company is. And if they have as much pull in Blizzard as it now seems then you can forget about fan support. 

    It’s also telling that Blizzard can now barely be bothered to communicate with it’s own fan base on their own forums. It’s a completely different company now, and not in a good way. 

  11. No the RMAH didn’t ruin the game. It’s Blizzard’s lack of understanding about what made Diablo 1 and 2 a success that really ruined the game. D2 had items for auction on eBay and people still bought them, no matter how much loot dropped or how overpowered their characters already were.

    Blizzard failed to see that the mechanic of risk vs reward and the feeling of adventure you got from seeing a great drop and feeling your character progress is what made the game so much fun. You’d find that great upgrade and then be able to move forward. It’s the fantasy of adventure, exploration, and the reward of self-gained treasure that motivates and makes playing fun.

    Blizzard erroneously feels they have to make the game impossible to give the items value. And that you’l buy the items so you can complete the game. This is so misguided as to be laughable. A few folks will buy into this, but the majority are going to quit and not play. Hence no profit for Blizzard.

    The real money to be made is in making an enjoyable game that fans rally around and enjoy playing. Allow them to upgrade their gear for progressing through items they find naturally without having to use the auction house. And allow the auction house to be a place for fans to perfect and fill out their gear. 

    In D2 there was always the possibility of a better piece, no matter how much loot dropped. This is the secret sauce that could make the game fun and Blizzard rich. Sadly the execs that run the game don’t understand thing one about games or gaming and have shot themselves in the foot. A sad end to what until now was an amazing couple of Diablo games.

  12. I’m not a hardcore player, and i’m not whining, i’m just stating the facts. I was really happy to buy things from Blizzard, it was my favorite, i even bought 3 of theirs collector edition, and always bought their games, not piracy, but they are doing everything to change that.

    I had a few days of, and i was progressing normally in the game with my wizard, and i was really happy cause every our, i had i could play and have fun with it, i was always getting new gear. My goal was to get to hell. But since the new patch, I’m not having much fun, i don’t catch anything good, and just blues, not even the bosses or the special monsters drop anything good. Before the patch i would even save special weapons or armor for my other characters. Now i have to use the blacksmith and the results are not good.

    It’s a loot game if there is no loot to catch whats the point? I was really happy with the game, not anymore. Miss the days in Diablo 2 that we used to catch a new peace of loot every time we played. And sometimes we had to wait to use it, to level up. Before the patch it was like this, every boss new weapons :D

    I was promoting the game to my friends, and i even got a few to play, but now i do not think i will do it anymore. Its really fun to play, you always get new items and skills i would say.

    I have PC, PS3 and Xbox 360, if there’s no reason to come i will go and play another game. And i’m sure i’m not the only one thinking this way.

    They killed Cain, killed Leah, Destroyed the Horadrims Order. Messep up Tyrael And now they assassinate the Loot drops.

    I cant even think about whats next.


    Thanks for making may days off less happy BLIZZARD

    • If Diablo III makes it onto consoles, which the design will allow, it will take off, but for PC gamers, it just doesn’t feel like the Diablo style game we have been playing for almost two decades.

  13. I completely agree with your article. I played a whole heck of a lot of single player diablo ii. Diablo iii missed the mark in a lot of ways. But the most important mark they missed was the drops. It kills me that I payed sixty bucks for it. I want to like it so much…but the disappointment of seeing worthless drops after spending a crap load of time trying to kill a group of elites…that just beats the whole point. I know I just repeated many of your main points…but dangit I want to express myself!

  14. I assumed that blizzard was well aware of the real world ebay economy related to buying runes and gear in diablo 2.  To eliminate others profiting from selling gear, and for Blizzard to have added revenues, the auction house was instituted.  There would be value to gear if anyone could get an item with hard work.  Instead, after 100 hours of play on my main toon, as well as 50-70 hours of time on some other toons, I cannot remember finding more than a few items that I now use.  I use all of the gold I gather to buy items.  

    As everyone knows, diablo III is not a high skill game, instead it is a gear based game.  If you cant survive act 2 inferno, buy some more resist gear and now you can survive.  Cant get to act 3, buy a weapon upgrade and kill belial. 

    What I would truly hate to find out is that blizzard employees are securing the best loot and offering the items for sale.  Playing for 300 hours without finding one single high quality item is just sad.  I used to kill baal 20 times and find nothing, but there was a possibility of finding something stellar, now it feels like there is no chance, so just grind and trade gold for upgrades – that is not satisfying my need for randon drop excitement.   

  15. It’s a fair article, but I like to boil it down to the absolute basics. I bought this game, I played it to the first bit of insane.. I understood that I would be unable to beat it on my own. So, I went to the auction house and spent myself down to 400 gold. Now fully geared I went back in, and died just as quick. I briefly tried to MF for myself, replaying thing after thing.. putting lesser gear up on the AH whenever it seemed even halfway sellable. I didn’t make 1/10th of my money back. Not even close.

    The point is, this game has become about money. Real money or fake money. You need money. You’re never going to find what you need like you could in D2, where things were overabundant and people squabbled over runes and that extra 2 percent on a BOTD. Those were the days I wish we were revisiting now, instead of completely altering a system into something that’s in all honesty.. crap. It’s not that fun of a game to play, let alone as much as you’d really HAVE to if you wanted to be great, and I’m damn sure not paying another dollar to a game that insults me with the premise that I’ll have to.

    Long story short, they dropped the ball worse than I ever imagined. I stopped playing it, sold my copy, and said goodbye to Bliz, and while it pains my former self, I don’t miss it at all. I could start a new char on D2 any day of the week and be happier in an hour than I ever was in the month or so I trudged through the muck of a lesser, insulting, overhyped game like D3.

    Peace :)

  16. ya im a bit late commenting on this but i dont care. jay wilson ruined diablo. i dont know what patch theyre up to now, (april 2013), but i will say this. the game is trash. simplistic gear system. stream lined, linear game play. simplistic skill system. the way dekard cain died. the unheard of introduction to new characters. the kiddish, child like boss characters. teh destruction of the dark, demonic, and satanic ritualistic feeling. the atmosphere, game, systems, skills, gears, all of it destroyed. the game is a complete piece of shit.

  17. Blizzard has always had a stupid obsession with repair cost. One reason I no longer play their games is that they seem more a job them a video game. Their obsessions with farming, dailies, punishing the customer for a death, and all the random annoying job like things in their games are so lame.

    And the RMAH was quite simply horrible. Big money corporations have really hurt the video game industry.