With Diablo Immortal continuing to make some big money on item sales, with an estimated $49 million on mobile alone in its first month of release, controversy over the monetization model some have labeled predatory is rampant. Blizzard’s president, Mike Ybarra, addressed the topic in a recent interview, defending the game’s approach to monetization.
Ybarra gave an interview to the L.A. Times (as reported by PC Gamer), and emphasized that the team’s approach in creating the game was an emphasis on content and to “give a free Diablo experience to hundreds of millions of people, where they can literally do 99.5% of everything in the game”. He also says that most players haven’t spent money on the game, and that players can get through the full campaign without spending anything at all, with microtransactions emphasized by endgame.
“From that standpoint,” he says, “I feel really good about it as an introduction to Diablo”. And an introduction it seems to be, as about 50% of players are new to Blizzard games. At around 15 million downloads, that’s a lot, and Blizzard is planning on more mobile titles, including the recently unveiled Warcraft: Arclight Rumble.
Of course, Ybarra is Blizzard president, so his position takes into account the reported success of the model and its revenue (regardless of whether the revenue numbers are entirely accurate, those figures are high, and they’re after Google and Apple have taken their cuts). With mobile games largely being monetized through microtransactions, it’s nothing new, and we all risk just repeating ourselves over and over.
Still, with the reports that completely gearing yourself out could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, it’s still worth drawing attention to those potential barriers, as well as smaller-scale things like the need to pay to form a guild.