Maxroll Discontinues Diablo Immortal Branch

Introduction

The Maxroll team covers games we are passionate about. We had high hopes for Blizzard's Diablo Immortal release, since it could ingratiate a new audience and generation of gamers to a franchise we love. For two years our team (along with the community) thoroughly tested the Tech Alpha, Closed Alpha and Closed Beta, concluding that the core game could be molded into something great. We provided a plethora of feedback during these testing phases to help make Diablo Immortal the best game it could possibly be. However, with heavy hearts, today we're announcing the closure of Maxroll’s Diablo Immortal branch.


Timeline

BlizzCon 2018 - Blizzard announced Diablo Immortal, receiving an overwhelmingly negative response from the community. Maxroll could've easily dismissed Immortal from the beginning; however small glimpses of the game showed promise, so we made preliminary coverage plans.

Technical Alpha - The Technical Alpha gave us the first real glimpse into the game. We were able to see the Combat System, Dungeons, Challenge Rifts, and other basic features. The game felt better than we expected, and our hopes started to rise. This is when we first launched our Maxroll Branch of Immortal as the second game we ever covered.

Closed Alpha - Our team dominated the Closed Alpha of Diablo Immortal. Raxxanterax, Rob, Echohack and Facefoot teamed together and reached Paragon 150 and Power Levels that surprised everyone, including the developers. During testing we discovered issues with the game. Crusaders were too powerful, PvP was a 1-shot fest, leveling was gated, certain systems and events didn't function correctly, and activity rewards varied wildly. We spent over 1,000 hours providing dozens of pages of written feedback, in-depth spreadsheets, and more to advance Immortal's development.

Despite the game's flaws, this was the best version of Immortal we had seen to date. There were no caps, no shop or Pay-To-Win elements, and the game truly rewarded playing to power up. Our articles received a gigantic rework as we became a top source for Diablo Immortal information. We also picked up four team members along the way, adding Lexyu, Dredscythe, Echohack and Gregg2G to the lineup.

Note: There are thoughts circulating within the community that our min/maxing performances in the Closed Alpha were used to anchor/cap Free-to-Play capabilities. While we are unsure of the true use of this data, as testers, players, and dedicated members of the franchise, we were always going to try our best.

Closed Beta - Immortal's Closed Beta launched with mixed feelings. While some feedback had been fixed, other issues from the previous two testing phases remained. We grew concerned, as we expected the seven additional months of development between the Closed Alpha and Closed Beta to resolve most of the major problems.

Then, "monetization testing" began as the in-game shop was introduced. There were early warning signs of how predatory the game could become. There was unlimited spending, Legendary Gems provided Combat Rating (when they didn't in the Closed Alpha), and Resonance was far too strong and completely paywalled. Making matters worse, the Free-To-Play experience was awful due to outrageous crafting costs, the scarcity of Legendary Crests, and the lack of upgrade paths in the game.

All things considered, the Closed Beta felt pound-for-pound worse than the Closed Alpha. Still, we put in hundreds of additional hours to give feedback to the Developers and community alike, and updated our guides to be ready for launch.

Release - Diablo Immortal released on both mobile and PC Beta. Our worst fears were realized. Many of the key issues are still not fixed, and the Free-To-Play experience is worse than we could've ever imagined. The shop allows players to acquire infinite Resonance and Combat Rating, and new 5-Star Legendary Gem bundles out-right sell them directly. Newly introduced Paragon caps on Upgrading gear, and hidden caps on practically all looted items deflated the incentive to play the game. With nothing to grind beyond a few faction dailies, players lost interest quickly.

We knew all along the game would be Pay-to-Win, and leading a cherished franchise into the mobile market would certainly bring challenges for both the Developers and Community. Despite these concerns, we planned to prevail and make the most of what we thought was a good core game with plenty of potential. With how the release turned out, we couldn't have been more disappointed.

It's never easy to walk away from something you've put a lot of time into. However, we feel responsible for the games we choose to support, and the types of games we want to see be made. Most importantly, Maxroll exists to provide a service to our community members, and we consider it our duty to be good caretakers for them. As such, we cannot in good faith continue to cover this game.


The Decision

Canceling a game we've cumulatively put 10,000+ hours of work (and a ton of developer money) into is not something we do lightly. In fact, we've never discontinued a game before. Unfortunately, recent events highlighted below drove us to this decision:

  1. Economic Structure. This is by far the biggest reason we're discontinuing the Diablo Immortal Branch. The predatory Pay-To-Win system greatly exceeds what's considered the norm for mobile gaming. Gambling addictions are real and can completely destroy lives. Even if 99% of players have perfect impulse control, we still can't stomach what happens to the other 1%. This is completely against our values and we will not remain a part of this any longer.
  2. Disengagement & Community Response. The disappointment we felt at launch aligns with the community's. Not just from the P2W perspective, but about the game itself. While we are not game designers, we can't believe this is the state of the game after nearly 2 years of testing and feedback.
  3. Unrewarding Gameplay. From Hell I difficulty to Hell II and beyond, your progression comes to a screeching halt. You can either grind 8+ hours a day (despite the multitude of hidden caps) for 5, 10, 15 Combat Rating upgrades, or break down and go to the shop and get a lot more. It's a terrible feeling that extinguishes motivation to log in.
  4. Money Isn't Everything. Even with a poor reception, our Immortal Branch would continue to generate revenue on our end. Life is about more than money though, it’s about doing the right thing. As said throughout this post, we are sticking to our core values. We are walking away from 1.5 years of collective work, time, missed events and family obligations, development time and expensive costs to do the right thing by us and you.
  5. Lack of Remedy. Finally, as a team we discussed "What would it take for us to re-open the Immortal Branch"? Aside from severely limiting the infinite Pay-to-Win system and giving Free-to-Play players a real chance, we don't see a path forward for us. This is why we chose to shut down the branch prior to the first major update - we don't envision Blizzard implementing a remedy strong enough to truly bridge that gap.

Closing the Branch

Our community matters more than anything else to us, so we're keeping all guides live on the site for a short period of time (no further updates will be made). This will allow anyone to re-read any guides they need information on, and even copy information over in case they might forget it.


Our Team

Maxroll fully believes in our team members and the immense amount of work they put into this project. The decision to take down the Immortal branch was made together. We aren't canceling this because the quality is lacking, or for a lack of resources. We love our creators and want to thank them all for the work they put in. Expect to see them working together on other projects, sharing their knowledge and insights gained from this branch.


The Community & Friends

We couldn't have built our Immortal branch without the support of the community, fellow content creators, and friends in the wider ARPG community. We made many friends along the way in this journey who fought with us in game and laughed with us on stream. Your contributions to our guides major and minor are felt and appreciated. Whether it's reporting a spelling error or helping us with filling out a spreadsheet with testing data in game, your presence is invaluable. Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you've done. We will see you in the next one.


The Future

This is just a bump in the road for Maxroll. We will continue providing coverage of all our other titles, and have more in store down the road. In fact, we'll see you soon on our coverage of Diablo 3's Season 27 and our highly anticipated Path of Exile section before the next league starts! While this decision is difficult to make, we hope our patrons understand why we are stepping away from Immortal. We look forward to continue creating the best guides possible for the games you love. Thank you all for helping us create Maxroll; we couldn't do any of this without you.