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Diablo 3 producer “didn’t want” a free-to-play Blizzard ARPG

Diablo 3 producer Jay Wilson never wanted a free-to-play version of Blizzard's iconic ARPG game, but the Activision merger apparently created Immortal

Diablo Immortal is the free-to-play version of the action RPG game that Activision Blizzard was pushing for, says former producer Jay Wilson, who opened up about the Activision merger during a segment at the 2022 Portland Retro Gaming Expo.

Discussing the Activision acquisition in detail, Wilson notes that the company was pushing for a free-to-play Diablo game from the get go – especially as focus apparently switched to padding out it’s earnings.

“Activision’s effect on Blizzard was like a frog in a boiling pot of water; early on, it felt like nothing. But later on the products that were newer and making money had enormous amounts of pressure on them to produce.

“Heroes of the Storm was just crushed by meetings with Activision where they were always talking about bottom line and how to pull more out of that.”

“Diablo 3 didn’t really get affected by that,” he recalls. “We were very solidly a premium box model, but a lot of the talk about Immortal before I left was all Activision Blizzard. They wanted a free-to-play Diablo really badly and I didn’t – granted by then I was off Diablo.”

“They [Activision] had a big effect on all those business models and everything, and in my opinion a lot of the higher up people who left did so because they just got frustrated with all of that, and I don’t think it made those products better.

“We had a saying at Blizzard when I was there: ‘we always want to be the guys in the white hats.'” he laments. “Which means we always want to be the good guys, so we always want to be doing something that is right for our players. If we charge our players for something (of course we’re going to charge them – we’re a business), we always wanted to charge them what we thought was reasonable. That came in direct conflict [with Activision’s philosophy].”

The relevant segment begins at 44:55 in the video below.

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Diablo Immortal has been etched into history for its treatment of microtransactions. Having made ActiBlizz well over $100 million, the game has clearly been a success – but at what cost? You can’t buy trust and respect, after all.

If you’re looking to dive into the latest chapter in Sanctuary’s turbulent story, it’s worth taking a glance at our Diablo Immortal tier list to help you pick the best character. Once you’ve selected your virtual representative, be sure to check out our best Diablo Immortal builds to help you purge Skarn’s legions in style.