Blizzard is afraid of spoiling Diablo 4 seasons with regular PTRs, but says the success of season 4's 'does point in the direction of something we'd want to continue to do'

Diablo 4 cinematic screenshot
(Image credit: Activision Blizzard)

By all accounts, including my own, Diablo 4's season 4 PTR, or public test realm, was a big success: an exciting, week-long peek into all the massive changes coming to the game next month. Blizzard seems to think so too: Diablo 4 boss Rod Fergusson told IGN that the PTR had a high enough turnout that the team will consider hosting early playtests for future seasons, too.

Fergusson said PTRs are "an ongoing conversation" and that "the success of the PTR for season 4 does point in the direction of something we'd want to continue to do." However, he said that "no one should take that as gospel that we're going to be doing PTRs for every season."

Season 4, as Fergusson explains, is such a foundational change to how loot works in the action RPG that they felt it was vital for players to give feedback on it before it launched. But spoiling the excitement of a new season is one of the main reasons Blizzard won't commit to having regular PTRs. "Because there are times when we're still going to want to have the surprise be more meaningful than the feedback in that moment," Fergusson said.

Blizzard kept most of season 4's unique features out of the PTR, but people still found clues related to a mercenary group from Diablo 2 in the game files as well as an abandoned camp added to the map. Although Fergusson wouldn't directly comment on those findings, we know Blizzard intends to announce details on season 4 in the next few weeks.

Fergusson said some people who skipped all three Diablo 4 seasons were playing the PTR just to see what the new loot and crafting systems were like. Players spent the week pushing the game to its limits with ridiculous builds like a barbarian one that filled the screen with hundreds of gigantic cyclones. Now, Blizzard has less than a month to fix up as much as it can.

After the hiccups with season 3's launch, I think it'll be hard for Blizzard to convince people a PTR isn't necessary for every season. Diablo 3 had regular PTRs before it started recycling its seasons and those seemed to go over well every time. If PTRs could extend to more than PC players, the feedback could be crucial for making sure the launch of a new season isn't plagued by progress-blocking bugs. At the same time, I understand the risk of people losing interest in the real season after having already given it a shot.

Season 4 and Diablo 4's massive loot rework launch on May 14.

Associate Editor

Tyler has covered games, games culture, and hardware for over a decade before joining PC Gamer as Associate Editor. He's done in-depth reporting on communities and games as well as criticism for sites like Polygon, Wired, and Waypoint. He's interested in the weird and the fascinating when it comes to games, spending time probing for stories and talking to the people involved. Tyler loves sinking into games like Final Fantasy 14, Overwatch, and Dark Souls to see what makes them tick and pluck out the parts worth talking about. His goal is to talk about games the way they are: broken, beautiful, and bizarre.