Blizzard's explanation of Diablo 4's seasons and their battle passes didn't mention that you have to start a new character to participate in each one, and news of the requirement is bewildering a lot of players just weeks before the start of Season 1.
Diablo 2's ladders and Diablo 3's seasons work the same way—you start a new seasonal character each time one starts—but that context was pretty easy for less-than-diehard fans of the series to miss. I played both Diablo 2 (which is 23 years old) and Diablo 3 (11 years old) and never touched their seasonal modes. There's also the issue of the battle pass, which is new for Diablo 4, and the reason the topic came up this week. Leveling it will require a new seasonal character, Diablo franchise GM Rod Fergusson confirmed on Twitter.
Hey Paul, yes to take part in the seasonal questline, mechanics, season journey and battle pass, you will need to create a new seasonal character. Playing campaign with seasonal character (if you so desire or need to finish) will also progress the season journey and battle pass.June 19, 2023
"To take part in the seasonal questline, mechanics, season journey and battle pass, you will need to create a new seasonal character," Fergusson said.
You won't lose your other characters, and your new seasonal character will become a regular character after the season ends, but the responses on Twitter indicate that this isn't what a number of Diablo 4 players were expecting.
"Since I paid for the 1st season I'll make a new character but after that I'm done," said one player. "Re-leveling off the same content with some new and small twists isn't my idea of fun to rinse and repeat."
Blizzard has been developing the seasonal characters concept for years, and it might win over some of the skeptics when Diablo 4's first season debuts in mid-to-late July, turning this incident into a minor footnote in the game's story. The bigger picture to me is that the struggle of modern game developers to explain their live service schemes to players only seems to be getting worse. Just last week, there was controversy over the announcement of Overwatch 2's $15 story mission fee, which at first was totally unclear and sent journalists scrambling for clarification from Blizzard.
At this rate, understanding the basic structure of a videogame will in a decade be like interpreting the meaning of quantum wave functions. (Personally, I like the Relational Microtransactions formulation of endgame mechanics, but I understand the appeal of the Many Seasons theory.)