Few people are as excited for Diablo 3′s first expansion, Reaper of Souls, as I am. After wading through the many, many problems the game had at launch, I stuck with it, and eventually D3 was patched into something quite fun, believe it or not. Then, with the release of the console version, I re-leveled a whole new set of characters and found I actually preferred the PlayStation 3 version over PC. Across both platforms, I sunk hundreds of hours into the game these past two years, and naturally want more.
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But even as a Diablo superfan, I have to stop and take stock of what Reaper of Souls is really offering, and for how much.
Blizzard has just announced that Reaper of Souls will be released March 24th, 2014. It’s $40 for the basic edition and $60 for the collector’s edition which include special minions, armor and extra character slots.
Expansions are nothing new for Blizzard, and in this age of DLC, you often hear people moaning about how they wish expansions were still the norm. Sure, they were more expensive, but they added dramatically more content to the game to justify the price, and rarely felt like cash-grabs.
But while recent expansions from Blizzard like Mists of Pandaria for World of Warcraft and Heart of the Swarm for Starcraft offered quite a lot of new content, Reaper of Souls appears like it won’t reach the same level of value.
$40, which is two-thirds of the price of the original game, gives you one new character class, the Crusader, and one new Act. That’s a 20% increase in classes and a 25% increase in Acts, for 66% of the total cost of the game.
To me, that feels closer to a DLC pack that would cost about $15 on average, $20 if we’re being generous. Yes, there are additional features being added like a new Adventure Mode and an un-terrible loot system, but those changes should have been patched in anyway, even if there wasn’t an expansion at all.
I suppose the price is comparable to Diablo 2′s Lord of Destruction from 2001, which also added another Act, though it had two new character classes. But the video game landscape has changed since a dozen years ago, and if you’re going to be charging nearly full price for an expansion, it better feel worthwhile. Right now, adding 20-25% more content for 66% of the game’s original price doesn’t feel like a bargain at all, especially when compared to Blizzard’s own offerings like Mists of Pandaria and Heart of the Swam, or the many substantive DLC missions loads of games offer for $10-$15 on average.
Even a $30 price point would have felt more justified than $40, however minimal the difference may seem. Blizzard actually said that’s what they were considering, back in October:
“Consider two versions of the expansion: a Standard Edition for $29.99 and a Collector’s Edition for $49.99. The Standard Edition includes the Reaper of Souls expansion; the Collector’s Edition includes the expansion, exclusive in-game content, and other bonus items.”
And yet, here we are. Players were even complaining when the $30 idea was thrown out given the amount of content added, and now at $40? Even less are considering picking it up. I doubt when Blizzard floated that idea, the feedback was “no, please, charge us more,” so I’m not sure how they landed on a final price even higher than they were initially proposing.
I realize that technically the content offered and the price aren’t much different than Diablo 2′s expansion, but the industry has changed, and Blizzard has already gotten enough bad press from Diablo 3 as is. $40 is asking too much from fans who have already put up with quite a bit as Diablo 3 struggled to find its footing. Fans essentially had to yell at Blizzard until everything that needed to be fixed was fixed, and now, two years later, the game is finally close to what it should have been at release. If it had been in its present state at launch, fans might be lining up to pay anything for an expansion, but as it stands, its Blizzard and Activision who still need to be making amends, and this price point isn’t helping.
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