Theorycraft: Diablo Immortal Monetization

One of the most secretive aspects of Diablo Immortal is the monetization. What will it be like? How will it be implemented? We won't get a definitive answer just yet.

When asked, Wyatt Cheng basically said the team is focusing on gameplay first, making sure the game is fun. Then, they will iron out the specifics on what monetization might be.

Not everyone believed that due to an image that circulated online showing Wyatt Cheng and Netease developers next to a Powerpoint presentation showing Diablo Immortal monetization ideas -- as posted by a Reddit user.

Personally, I can't confirm that what the reddit user said is true. I don't read Korean, and the image quality isn't great. So I wouldn't be able to know if someone who does read the language can even identify the letters or words from that image.

I have heard a lot of gamers complain about mobile monetization. I never had a smartphone before to know why the outcry. For many months now, I have been playing a few Android games on my PC using an emulator.

Recently, I downloaded Anima ARPG (Android), and it feels a lot like Diablo (1996), and resembling more or less a cheapo-version of Diablo II graphics. On top of that the string and air instrumental music seems to try to mimic Diablo II's style.

I was very curious about this game when I saw images of it, and decided to give it a try. Mostly to see how monetization works in an RPG mobile game, in order to share with you my findings. Particularly, if like me, you haven't played mobile games before to draw an opinion about Diablo Immortal monetization.


ANIMA ARPG

The Anima ARPG store is quickly accessible at the top-mid of the screen by clicking the treasure chest icon.

Immediately you get to see the Anima ARPG Store UI. The main feature on sale seems logical to be Diablo Immortal's potential means to monetize the game right away.

If Diablo Immortal was sold as a free game, like Anima ARPG, that is. The first dollar goes for buying a one auto-upgradeable weapon per class; three additional character slots; and two additional stash tabs. On the right side, you can access a store sub-menu for: Item Store, Familiar Emporium (pets), and Wings Shop (cosmetic customization).

I can see Diablo Immortal having similar options. From Diablo III, we know that Blizzard gives players options to upgrade the stash with more tabs.

We also know that Diablo Immortal will have at least 6 playable classes at launch:

  • Barbarian

  • Crusader

  • Demon Hunter

  • Monk

  • Necromancer

  • Wizard

Blizzard mentioned at BlizzCon there are plans for more classes to be added at a later time. Right there we can already assume that additional classes might be a DLC monetization opportunity.

Adding extra classes at least every 4 months, in my opinion, would keep the gameplay alive until a proper expansion is released.

Blizzard can certainly expand Diablo Immortal adding new zones of Sanctuary, but to a degree Sanctuary locations are finite. We already know most of them by heart via the Sanctuary map.

However, there is uncharted territory in the Burning Hells and the High Heavens. There are also other worlds out there that we have never heard of -- according to what guardians beyond Sanctuary whispered to Trag'Oul during the events of the Diablo: The Sin War Trilogy.

Let's keep exploring Anima ARPG as a "possible" model for Diablo Immortal monetization.

ITEM STORE

The item store feels very intriguing in Anima ARPG. Three options are monetized with real money. Two of them cost a lot of gold, which translates in countless hours of gameplay farming for gold.

  • Forgotten Key 3X: Open a forgotten realm level 320 -- 8 million gold.

  • Forgotten Key 10X: Open a forgotten realm level 320 -- 99 cents. That's the equivalent of a bit over 26.6 million gold.

  • Stone of Memory: Reset your Skill and Statistic Points -- 25 million gold.

  • Stone of Memory X3: Reset your Skill and Statistic Points -- 99 cents.

  • Stone of Rebirth: Reset your Secondary Mastery -- $1.19

That's kinda a brilliant monetization option for Diablo Immortal. Who doesn't at some point want to reset their skill points to try a different spec?

I am not too in love with the idea of selling Diablo Immortal dungeon keys, however. Like Anima ARPG does with the Forgotten Key. Diablo Immortal dungeons should be accessible to all players without currency restrictions (be it gold or real money).


FAMILIAR EMPORIUM

In Anima ARPG, the familiar emporium translates into a Pet Store. I am a bit skeptic here because these pets offer specific bonuses that in a way qualify to pay-to-win to a degree.

  • Huginn: Summon a raven that increases your movement speed (+10 to movement speed) -- 75 million gold.

  • Skorpios: Summon a scorpion that increases your thorns by 15% -- 75 million gold.

  • Ratatoskr: Summon a rat that increases your gold find by 15% -- 99 cents.

  • Hequet: Summon a frog that increases your magic find by 15% -- 99 cents.

  • Fenrir: Summon a wolf that increases your damage by 8% -- $1.99.

Right there I see magic find and damage a pay to win option. Through increased magic find you get better items than someone who didn't pay real money; and through 8% more damage you can clear a dungeon more efficiently than someone who didn't spend real money for it.

I don't think any Diablo Immortal player would want pay-to-win options. Hopefully, Blizzard and Netease are more cautious on what content they assign to monetize when the right time comes.

Those ideas in Anima ARPG could work in Diablo Immortal if you can buy via gold, or if some of these also have a % droprate from rare elites, and bosses so that everyone has a chance to enjoy the bonuses from pets looted through those means in-game.

I could see monetization for cosmetic pets, though. Pets that have certain attractive bonuses like increased loot range, increased vision range in dungeons, or a passive buff maybe-ish. I don't know.

These below are good ideas for in-game loot from special mobs and bosses, not for Diablo Immortal monetization. I am sure some people might agree, while others won't.


WINGS SHOP

This one seems like a no-brainer. Blizzard gives players the opportunity to earn new wings on each Season via achievements. But I don't think I would mind cosmetic wings for gold, real money, or in-game loot for as long as the non-real money options continue coming each Season to give everyone an opportunity to choose and enjoy their cosmetic loot.


There is another non-monetization option present in Anima ARPG that feels attractive to me for some reason. The Wheel of Fortune allows you to earn gold, different quality treasure chests, gems, and a very interesting type of currency.

All you need to earn these is to watch an ad that lasts usually anywhere between 17-28 seconds -- each ad length varies. Then the Spin button appears after you close the ad. You spin the Wheel of Fortune, and where it lands -- that's your reward.

I would really like Blizzard to add this feature -- but I am not so sure on treasure chests dropping for people watching or pretending to watch 100 ads all day long.

Concerning that interesting type of currency I mentioned, it is named Oboli -- and so far I have only seen it as a potential reward from the Wheel of Fortune.

Earning a treasure chest from the Wheel of Fortune ain't so easy. It took me about 15 minutes of watching ads and spinning the wheel until finally I looted a Great Dimensional Chest of purple quality.

In case you wonder what this treasure chest dropped when I opened it, take a look below.

I would really not want Diablo Immortal to provide treasure chests in monetization options. This would be the equivalent of what the Real-Money Auction House did for Diablo III. Can you believe I got all those 4 rare and Epic items just for watching ads and spinning the Wheel of Fortune?

That Oboli currency you earn from the Wheel of Fortune as a reward can only be used when you trade with Retyuil (NPC).

Just another no-no way to monetize the game by watching countless and countless ads for days or months.

Anima ARPG has some interesting monetization options, but exceeds in other monetization ways, like those treasure chests and the dungeon keys. That game is developed by an Italian Indie studios: Exilium Games.

I played this Anima ARPG last week. You can watch its gameplay and all of the in-game systems in my video.


CRUSADERS OF LIGHT

Crusaders of Light behaves more like an MMORPG for Android devices. It is developed by Netease. I just loaded the game to check out what they monetize. They have a ton of rewards for things like login in for Day 1, Day 2, Day 7, Day 27 and so on; as well as achievements and leveling up.

I could only find two monetization options where you obtain something for real money.

I am not quite sure what these crystals are for, but I assume they are some type of in-game currency. By purchasing a One-Week Membership for $2.99, you are rewarded 15 crystals per day for a week. So that's a total of 105 crystals; and a 20% Mount Speed Boost.

A Two-week Membership costs $9.99. You get 15 crystals per day (total of 210) and a 20% mount speed boost.

A Three-Month Membership costs $49.99. You get the same as the other ones plus a 5 Level Boost Potions. Approximately 1350 crystals.

So far the only reason I have found this crystal currency is used for is some sort of gambling for cosmetic and equipment items ranging from: Wings, Pets, Materials, Legendary Equipment, and Legendary Necklace.

I think this Crusaders of Light monetization can be compared to the Heroes of the Storm Gem Purchase system -- but Crusaders of Light adds Legendary Equipment which can be considered Pay-to-Win.

I played Crusaders of Light a few months ago. You can watch my gameplay video here.


THE WALKING DEAD: NO MAN'S LAND

This Android game by Next Games is a turn-based RPG based on the comics and the AMC series. It is heavily monetized compared with the previous two Android games mentioned in this article.

Just take a look at all the real-money purchase options. These guys truly squeeze players dry for scarce goods.

Follow this link to download and install The Walking Dead: No Man's Land, or to learn more. Below you can watch my gameplay video, and all its systems.


MARVEL: FUTURE FIGHT

Marvel: Future Fight is a 2015 Android game by Netmarble Games and Marvel Entertainment/Disney. This is a combat game with RPG elements with a long story. You can play as any of the 200 characters spanning The Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and other popular teams or any of the villains.

It was a bit difficult to play on the PC via the Android Emulator, but feels fun to play. I can't wait to buy a Xbox One controller to play it again. You can download and install it here.

This mobile game has a crazy and greedy monetization variety -- considering all the 200+ characters this game features. Most everything in the game can be purchased with Crystals, and those are purchased with real money. Similar to Heroes of the Storm, but far more aggressive.

I played this Android game for the first time a couple of weeks ago in my PC. I'm sure it will be more fun to play with an Xbox One controller.


In conclusion, taking a look at Anima ARPG which is touted by Exilium Games as "Inspired by old school games like Diablo and Baldur's Gate;" Marvel: Future Fight by Netmarble, and Crusaders of Light by Netease -- we can extrapolate that Diablo Immortal has a variety of features that can be monetized: skins, pets, skill tree resets, extra stash tabs, extra character slots, new classes, emotes, voice lines, sprays, battle standards, and other cosmetic items -- and still not be as aggressive as some of the Android games out there that love to milk the cash cow.

The question is, how far is Blizzard Entertainment willing to listen to the player feedback. Right off the bat, pay-to-win is what the community fears most.

However, I haven't seen a single evidence of Blizzard selling pay-to-win options in World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, or current-day Diablo III: Reaper of Souls. So I am hoping that the community's fear is unfounded until Blizzard reveals Diablo Immortal's monetization.

I don't think it can be so awful compared with the Android games available out there. If anything, Diablo Immortal offers mobile gamers a very unique RPG game. None I have played thus far comes close to what I watched in the BlizzCon 2019 gameplay livestreams.

Anima RPG is mediocre at best in terms of graphics and monster variety, but closer to Diablo (1996) and Diablo II gameplay than any other options I have seen so far.

Diablo Immortal will no doubt take the crown of #1 RPG Android game once it comes out.

Follow @blizzplanetcom for video gameplay and updates. I plan to participate in the Diablo Immortal Beta testing for those interested in learning more about the game.

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