Diablo 4‘s director and associate game director have stressed again that players won’t be able to spend real money to upgrade their character’s abilities.
In a new ‘quarterly update’ on the Blizzard website, game director Joe Shely introduced the game’s live service features, most notably its Seasons mode, in which players start from scratch with a new character every season.
“To play in the new season, you’ll create a fresh character and experience the new seasonal features and content while levelling up alongside other players,” Shely explained.
“This, along with capping paragon points in Diablo IV, ensures that your effort and skill – measured by both dexterity and theorycrafting – determine how powerful your character becomes. It also allows players who missed the last season to participate.
“This season design requires that all sources of character power come from playing the game, so you will not be able to pay for power in Diablo IV.”
This was reiterated by associate game director Joe Piepiora, who went into more detail on the game’s Season Passes.
“Completing Season Journey objectives also grants progress toward the Season Pass, a new feature with a battle pass-style progression that advances alongside the Season Journey, enabling players to earn even more rewards just by playing,” Piepiora explained.
“The Season Pass has both free rewards (cosmetics, premium currency, and gameplay boosts) and paid rewards (cosmetics and premium currency only).”
According to Piepiora, premium currency is spent in the in-game shop and can only be used to buy cosmetic items, meaning the paid version of the Season Pass only provides players with cosmetic items, not gameplay boosts.
Director of product Kegan Clark added: “There will be a single track of rewards with Free Tiers that are unlocked just by playing the game and levelling, and Premium Tiers which provide no in-game power or advantage over other players.
“The Free Tiers of the pass will provide gameplay boosts to all players – things which make the journey of levelling up a fresh seasonal character faster and more streamlined. In contrast, the Premium Tier rewards are focused on aesthetics, providing a huge value in the form of cosmetics and Premium Currency.”
Explaining the in-game shop, Clark said: “The Shop sells cosmetics for Premium Currency. Cosmetics give players even more options to customize the visual appearance of their characters. Nothing offered in the Shop grants a direct or indirect gameplay advantage. So, while many of these may look like powerful pieces of gear, they have no in-game stats.”
The attempts to reassure players that there will be no way to buy in-game upgrades with real money may be a direct result of the negative response to mobile title Diablo Immortal, which suffered huge backlash due to claims that the game was ‘pay-to-win’.
In June, Diablo Immortal gained the dubious honour of having the lowest user rating in the history of Metacritic.
This included a report published during the game’s opening weekend that calculated that it could cost players up to $110,000 to fully upgrade a character in the game.