Last week, Blizzard announced a fun little competition for the most dedicated of Diablo fans: the first 1,000 Diablo 4 players to reach level 100 on Hardcore Mode—that's the permadeath mode—would have their names carved into a real-life statue of Lilith. As is the way with fun things on the internet, it almost immediately spiraled down into a social media morass of misery and anger.
The problem in the eyes of many is that the contest is open to all, including people who took part in the pre-release playtests. Diablo general manager Rod Fergusson attempted to address the complaints on Twitter by pointing out that all pre-release progress will be reset, meaning that everyone will be starting at the same time, but replies claimed that the real problem was one of knowledge: People who had played Diablo 4 prior to the public release will get off to a much stronger start than those jumping into it for the first time.
How does deleting all their progress and making them start at the same time as everyone else give them an unfair advantage?May 26, 2023
But other, more esoteric complaints also bubbled up. Some on the Diablo forums, for instance, felt it was unfair because people with other responsibilities and things to do are also at a strong disadvantage. A few went so far as to call it a pay-to-win scheme because people who pre-purchase the game will get an early start; a few even worried that the perceived embrace of pay-to-win in this contest signals that Blizzard will be willing to take a similar approach with in-game play. Still others seemed unhappy that the contest isn't actually for the first 1,000 to reach level 100 in Hardcore Mode, but the first 1,000 to claim the accomplishment via Twitter, as required by the rules.
Similar discussions unfolded on Reddit, where one user, Coleslaw_McDraw, offered this bit of sage advice to non-prebuyers who feel the system is unfair: "You mean the giga Chads that want to be top 1000 hardcore in their realm and paid 20 extra big dingaling swahelelee dollars should have to play on the level of the Diablo plebs that couldn't afford the same 20 meager mice morsels? You want to be on the same level as top tier, 99.9% parsing savages, but $20 is where you draw the line? $20 big, thicc, buckaroos? Pull out that credit card, and let your potential top 1000 player glory be the bank's problem, not yours."
It's a fair point that second playthroughs invariably go faster and smoother than the first time around, and in that regard some people do have an advantage over everyone starting cold. But at some point, you have to draw a line: As redditor MemorySnake wrote, "Anyone without an outside job also has an advantage, anyone with access to better internet probably has an advantage. There's always going to be an advantage."
Of course, much of the upset was unfounded or overblown, because the official contest rules actually preclude many people with a "knowledge advantage" from taking part: Anyone who was "previously invited to download the pre-release review version of the game during the month of May 2023" is not eligible.
Of course, nobody actually reads the rules, so Blizzard fired it up Twitter too:
Those who participated in the pre-release review version of the game during the month of May 2023 are not eligible for entry.Full rules: https://t.co/TLWxZwG0aQMay 29, 2023
Most of the responses to that tweet expressed satisfaction with the move, but naturally there's also a little bit of unhappiness that some content creators won't get to take part.
Diablo 4 early access begins at 4 pm PT/7 pm ET on June 1, while full release will follow at the same time on June 5. We're waiting for the actual launch, when the public servers and in-game shop are live, to render our final judgment, but in the meantime here's our review-in-progress.