"They can literally do 99.5% of everything in the game": Top Blizzard official defends Diablo Immortal's monetization

The game has been criticized for its pay-to-win elements (Image via Blizzard)
The game has been criticized for its pay-to-win elements (Image via Blizzard)

In terms of finances, Diablo Immortal has had polarizing results one month after its release. On the one hand, there have been a severe number of complaints against the monetization policies that Blizzard has adopted. Conversely, the game has raked in close to $50 million in revenue, a milestone very few games have hit. Despite criticism, Blizzard boss Mike Ybarra believes the reactions have been about nothing.

50% of Diablo Immortal players are new to the Blizzard ecosystem (per Mike Ybarra). With ~15M installs that's close 7-8M new people introduced to Blizzard. That's HUGE, esp given how far-reaching the ecosystem already is with culture-impacting titles like WoW and Overwatch.

Diablo Immortal's initial reception was positive as the title brought the iconic franchise to the mobile gaming sphere. Unfortunately, players soon discovered multiple predatory microtransactions within the game. It swiftly resulted in the title receiving a lot of flak online, and then went on to become the worst-rated game on Metacritic. However, if Ybarra is to be believed, much of the hue and cry is unjustified.

Blizzard boss clears the air about the criticism surrounding Diablo Immortal

Many players are of the opinion that Diablo Immortal is completely pay-to-win due to the nature of its transactions. In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ybarra clarified Blizzard's point of view on the matter. Among other items, the method of obtaining legendary gems (using real money) is the one that is under fire. Responding to a question about the community's dislike of the game's transactions, Ybarra said:

"When we think about monetization, at the very highest level it was, "How do we give a free Diablo experience to hundreds of millions of people, where they can literally do 99.5% of everything in the game?" The monetization comes in at the end game. The philosophy was always to lead with great gameplay and make sure that hundreds of millions of people can go through the whole campaign without any costs. From that standpoint, I feel really good about it as an introduction to Diablo."

Ybarra also spoke more about Blizzard's plans to expand into the world of mobile gaming and stated:

"My hope is we evolve franchises to deliver great experiences to players on a more regular basis, but also expand our universes across devices. Just releasing games on PC doesn't serve people playing games today."

While Ybarra might be correct from Blizzard's side, the game's players will feel otherwise. Diablo Immortal has a strong PvP element that requires heavy grinding for better rewards.


While this PvP might be available to everyone, those who spend real-life money will have a major advantage. Accessibility has never been an issue with Diablo Immortal, as all game content is free.

However, people play games to win and do well. While a free-to-play player can do that, its efficiency is a massive difference. While free-to-play players have to grind for months, some can spend their way in a matter of weeks if they feel they need to do so.

Factually, Ybarra's claim isn't actually wrong. However, the focus of every game should be its consumers. When it comes to this latest Diablo experience, fans' overall satisfaction would certainly have been higher without the predatory microtransactions and gacha elements associated with the game.

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Edited by Atul S
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