Blizzard defends Diablo Immortal microtransactions, says most players are not spending money

In defense of Diablo Immortal’s microtransactions, Blizzard and its new boss, Mike Ybarra, argued that most players aren’t spending any money on the game and that its monetization only comes in “at the end game.”

The Los Angeles Times (opens in new tab) recently spoke to Ybarra about the company’s work culture, amid the many ongoing lawsuits against Activision Blizzard and the reforms sparked by them, as well as its ambitions for current and future games. Diablo Immortal, which has been mired in backlash due to its often aggressive and theoretically sky-high microtransactions, is a recurring touchstone in the interview, but Ybarra argues that the game is a good introduction to Diablo despite the controversy around it. 

“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?'” Ybarra says of the game. 

“The monetization comes in at the end game,” he adds. “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.”

As the LA Times reports, a Blizzard spokesperson added that “the vast majority of players are not spending money” on Diablo Immortal (but didn’t share exact numbers), though the game is still raking in millions by the day. This lines up with the common free-to-play trend that sees a small percentage of players spend a lot on a game while the majority spend very little or literally nothing. However, it doesn’t necessarily serve as blanket absolution for the game’s monetization. 

Ybarra’s correct in that the majority of Diablo Immortal can be played and cleared without spending any money – though 99.5% is a debatable figure – but for some that’s still done little to numb the sting of running into its end game paywall, which drops like a ton of bricks as you get deeper into the loot grind. Diablo Immortal’s PvP system also demonstrates the enormous power gap between free or low-spending players and the proverbial ‘whales’ with loaded accounts, which goes to show how money can polarize the community even if it’s only in the end game – though some players have found ways around it, like converting $50,000 worth of WoW gold

Diablo Immortal’s first major patch dodges the microtransaction controversy and focuses on a new battle pass. 

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