Diablo Immortal is one of the most talked about games in the industry right now, but not for entirely good reasons. The recently released mobile title is free-to-play with a heavy reliance upon microtransactions that makes the game nigh-unplayable for many long-time fans of the franchise.
That said, Diablo Immortalis not the first example of a game facing backlash for what is seen as pay-to-win microtransaction systems. Yet the scale of controversy surrounding Immortal puts it firmly within comparison to some of the worst microtransaction controversies of all time.
Diablo Immortal's Microtransaction Controversy
The state of Diablo Immortal's microtransactions has been a vocal point of contention among the game's community, and it is clear to see why. Throughout the game, players can opt to purchase their way through what are otherwise time-consuming grinds to level up and obtain loot. Players can buy modifiers, crafting materials, buffs, and loot boxes among other things, all meant to enhance and expedite the experience. Certain players have reported spending up to $20,000 on Diablo Immortal without getting a single legendary gem, one of the higher-end items that most would assume is better attainable through in-game purchases.
Despite the vocal disdain toward microtransactions in the game, it is reported that Diablo Immortal made $24 million in its first two weeks, suggesting the formula has found an audience. With legendary gems only being available through microtransactions, many have posed that it could potentially cost up to $100,000 of real-world money to max-out a player character. Such figures have seen the game climb the ranks of microtransaction controversies.
Star Wars Battlefront 2's Microtransaction Controversy
Despite the positive critical reception to DICE's Star Wars Battlefront 2, it was subject to a significant amount of controversy upon release. The controversy was very similar in scale and profile to Diablo Immortal, as at launch Battlefront 2 nudged players toward a purchasable in-game currency known as crystals. These crystals were predictably at a much higher value than the base currency of credits, which could be earned without payment. These crystals made unlocking key playable heroesan easier process, with doing so without payment taking roughly 40 hours of gameplay.
With core aspects of the game essentially locked behind paywalls, frustration reached a boiling point early into the game's life. The backlash grew so strong that EA removed microtransactions from Battlefront 2for a small period to reevaluate prices, giving credence to how intense of a negative reception it received.
Grand Theft Auto Online's Microtransaction Controversy
The massively popular online mode for Grand Theft Auto 5 is also notorious for its microtransactions. GTA Online has proven so successful for Rockstar that it was recently given its own standalone release.
GTA Online players can receive in-game cash via purchasable "Shark Cards," with the most expensive "Megladon" version giving players $8 million of in-game currency for $99.99 USD. The impetus for purchasing in-game currency has only grown as the game releases more content over time, with the biggest apartments, cars, planes, and yachts requiring huge amounts of cash. For example, the Luxor Deluxe jet in GTA Online costs players $10 million, requiring well over $100 of real-world money.
All the commodities in GTA Online can be purchased with money accumulated via pay-free gameplay, however the time and effort required is sometimes outside the realm of possibility for fans. With GTA Online going as far as releasing its own subscription service called GTA+, the scale of its in-game purchases perhaps even exceeds DiabloImmortal.
FIFA Ultimate Team's Microtransaction Controversy
An ongoing example of microtransaction controversies comes from another EA franchise, FIFA. EA introduced the game mode "Ultimate Team" back in FIFA 09, which has remained a constant source of contention among fans ever since.
The Ultimate Team mode sees players develop their own personal team out of a roster of players from real-world leagues and a variety of skill levels. The main goal of the mode is to improve one's team over time, and eventually possess some of the best real-world players with strong stats to get the most in-game benefits.
Players can be bought from the in-game transfer market, with the price of higher-end players and their special card variants reaching upwards of millions of coins. In this way, the game mode almost necessitates opening in-game loot boxes or "packs" if a player wants any feasible chance of playing with sought-after cards. With the FIFA series still dominating UK sale charts, a reliance on microtransactions appears to have become normalized within the community, setting it apart from the vocally disgruntled fans of Diablo Immortal.
Diablo Immortal is available now on Mobile and PC.