Diablo IV boss discusses whether season 4 constitutes a whole new game


If I had a nickel for every time a game dev or a gamer insisted that a patch to a game constituted a whole new game, well I’d be rich enough I wouldn’t need this job anymore. Diablo IV’s Rod Fergusson doesn’t quite do that in his latest interview with IGN, preferring to attribute the idea to gamers, but IGN sure does do its level best to goad him into it, even in its headline.

The interview – titled Is Diablo 4 Season 4 Really So Great It Should Be Considered Diablo 5? Blizzard Has Its Say – is ostensibly focused on Diablo IV’s fourth season, which includes a major revamp to the game’s itemization nearly a year into its life. Fergusson credits the studio’s volte-face to player feedback on loot acquisition and the approachability of the game, which has translated into enthusiasm from players on the PTR. Then IGN asks him whether season four is the real launch of the game.

IGN: I’ve seen some say that the changes are so significant that they’re viewing Season 4 as a 1.0 launch for Diablo 4. Is that a fair way of putting it? Do you see where they’re coming from?

Rod Fergusson: I’ve seen that. I’ve seen other things some people have said, like this is Diablo 5 now, because it’s so fundamental. I think what they’re speaking to is the scope. It is a foundational change. Diablo is a game about getting loot. It is part of the core loop: kill monster, get loot, become more powerful, kill bigger monster, get better loot, become more powerful. It is an intrinsic part of our game loop. So that idea that we change one of those elements so fundamentally, I can see why it feels very different. And we wanted it to. We came out of the gates when we first launched wanting a certain level of depth and complexity to the system, and realized we overshot the mark. We saw that in Diablo 3 as well, ‘loot 2.0.’ What was funny is I actually went back and read an article on when Reaper of Souls came out, and they were saying, Reaper of Souls is now Diablo 4. Like, literally the same headline! ‘Diablo 4 is now Diablo 5,’ they were saying, ‘Diablo 3 is now Diablo 4 because of loot 2.0.’”

Of course, another way to read it is that Blizzard charged gamers for a seriously flawed and unfinished game last summer and maybe should’ve listened to feedback sooner. But I prefer to read it as “headline writing has always been pretty dumb.”

There are a few other items of note in the interview, including Fergusson’s misgivings over the PTR and the “tug of war between surprise and getting feedback earlier” – especially when it means dataminers can run roughshod over the updates.

Source: IGN
Activision-Blizzard is considered a controversial gaming company owing to a long string of scandals going back to 2019, including the Blitzchung boycott, mass layoffs, labor disputes, pay disparities, sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, federal settlements, executive misconduct, botched Chinese partnership, unionbusting, disastrous management, brain drain, and bungled games. As of 2023, the company was finally acquired by Microsoft; just this year, it’s laid off 800 workers and misled gamers about WoW subs.
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