If Microsoft were playing the Pyramid Stage of yesterday’s Glastonbury of Games, Blizzard were Radiohead, showing up unannounced to steal the show from a tiny tea-tent. To mark Diablo 3’s first anniversary, the developers last night unveiled an infographic fit to burst with astonishingly large numbers. It transpires that 14.5 million unique players have passed through Sanctuary, and together racked up a total of 2.8 billion hours. That’s an average playtime of just over 193 hours each.
‘Self-found’ is the Diablo community’s esoteric term for a philosophy of play we were all very familiar with before the Auction House: making it through the campaign without recourse to online selling or buying of gear. It’s become something of an old school phenomenon of late, and it was only a matter of time before somebody like popular streamer Archon put the question to Blizzard: What are the chances of us seeing an officially-sanctioned self-found mode in-game in the future?
Yesterday, we learned that World of Warcraft’s subscriber numbers are falling. Again. At its peak, World of Warcraft reached over 12 million subscribers; today, that number is at 8.3 million, and Activision and Blizzard expect subscriber numbers to decrease further.
What’s going on? Why are people quitting WoW, and can Blizzard halt the decline?
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Diablo’s 1.0.8 patch went live yesterday, implementing some of the changes Blizzard have mused aloud about in recent weeks - magic and gold find bonuses when playing co-op, for instance, and notifications in multiplayer for Elite monster encounters. But it also introduced something entirely unexpected - a gold duping bug that saw some players acquire billions in a matter of hours. Blizzard promptly shut down the Diablo auction house in response, and have already plugged the leak - but refused player calls for a global rollback.
Blizzard have been plugging away at ways to make Diablo 3 a more invigorating experience without resorting to primary colours. They’ve done their best for co-op, and have now turned their attention to legendary items, with the aim of making every drop something to write home about.
Blizzard last week made the frank admission that multiplayer Diablo 3 can “often feel not worth the effort". “Even if you enjoy playing with your friends, it can often feel easier and more efficient to play solo," said Wyatt Cheng.
Patch 1.0.8 is released on the Public Test Realm today. It sees the dev team take a few small steps in the direction of better playing in company and, in lieu of the more significant redesigns planned, one big leap towards improving the rewards for doing so.
Blizzard have bought up IGN Pro League tech and assets from its former owners, and hired former IPL staff to form the core of a new San Francisco team focused on producing "high-quality web and mobile content" in support of existing Blizzard games.