While it appears that Diablo Immortal microtransactions will prevent the game from being sold in Belgium and the Netherlands, the developers are adamant that these in-game purchases in the upcoming free-to-play game are entirely optional, and that they “never circumvent core gameplay”.
“A lot of conversation went into our philosophy around it, like the optional purchases are always a bonus, they never circumvent core gameplay,” principal designer Joe Grubb tells us. “You still need skill to play your class, you still need to know how to play a barbarian in order to be successful as a barbarian.”
The Diablo Immortal cash shop offers a variety of currencies, a battle pass, and several types of boosters that can speed up battle pass progression or guarantee rewards from Rifts, but Grubb says that there’s no way to buy gear or experience points used for leveling up characters. “One of our core pillars is, ‘the best way to gain power in Diablo Immortal is to play the game,'” he says.
While some players have expressed alarm over the presence of microtransactions in a Diablo game, especially now that it’s coming to PC as well as mobile, franchise general manager Rod Fergusson tells us that mobile-to-PC crossover games like Fortnite and Genshin Impact have gotten more PC players familiar with free-to-play business models.
“What’s amazing to me is that when you have a game like this you can play every aspect of this game for free,” Fergusson tells us. “You can play the entire campaign for free, you can play raids and the Cycle of Strife and everything, for free. And we’re going to support it with new zones and dungeons and new character classes post-launch for free.”
Grubb and Fergusson both said that shifting to a free-to-play model makes Diablo accessible to new players who might otherwise never have played.
“What I love about free-to-play is that it has that accessibility to it, you don’t have this upfront cost to get into it,” Fergusson says. “Which I think is going to be great for the Diablo franchise, because it’s going to bring in a bunch of players who didn’t necessarily play Diablo before.”
The in-game purchases – the boosters, platinum bundles, and empowered battle pass – are meant to be an optional bonus, Grubb says.
“They’re there for those that want them,” he says, “but the game at its core is designed to be accessible, and it’s entirely for free.”