"huge content patches, or class updates," says Blizzard's Travis Day, referring to Diablo III. So what could keep the game alive post-content release? Ladders.
Getting to prove you’re the best in something could be what helps keep Diablo III going strong, much like Diablo II. Seasonal rankings "wouldn’t be viable until an expansion" they warned.
There's still plenty of excitement for "self-found hardcore playing," said senior technical game designer Wyatt Cheng, talking about those who steer clear of auctioning.
Many get a kick out of gearing their heroes without 'cheating' through auctions, with upgrades further and further apart as the levels rack up. "Ladder is something that is not out of the question,” said game designer Travis Day. “We talk about it, we're investigating it, you might see it one day. Not making any promises on when or how, but it is certainly something that we talk about a lot.”
“As you've probably found with all your self-found hardcore playing, it's really fun to level up new characters,” added Cheng. “In that experience, typically my character is growing ever more powerful, but the frequency of my upgrades is getting farther and farther apart. So when I level from 1-60, I'll find an upgrade for my character every 15-20 minutes. And that's pretty cool."
“Then when you hit level 60, if you're still self-found, you're finding an upgrade maybe every 45 minutes or an hour. That rate of upgrade gets slower and slower with time, as your gear continues to improve, and gets better and better."
Cheng notes we all want to start fresh sometimes "and we can choose to do it, but sometimes it's nice to do it together, as a global community. Or have a recognized badge of honor, for having done it.”
Any such addition of a ladder system would separate out new, ranked characters from those previously created. "We wouldn't take away anything from what people have accomplished,” he said. “People have a lot of investment in their current characters, so you'd still keep those.”
“Five years from now, you're probably not going to see us making huge content patches, or class updates,” said Day.
“At some point we'll set the game aside, sort of leave it as a work that we've completed, and move on to like Diablo 4, or whatever, right? Ladders is absolutely one of the things that helps the game stay fresh for people 5 years from now, or 3 years, or 2 years, or whatever.”
Does Diablo III need a ladder system for brag rights, or should PvP get a look-in? We're greedy so we'll take both.