There’s a new mobile game on the market called Diablo Immortal and it’s generating a huge amount of hate in the gaming world. Diablo Immortal uses something called monetization as a method to generate revenue.
The game is free to play. Anyone can download it and start playing immediately. The makers of Diablo Immortal, Blizzard Entertainment, use in game purchases, or monetization, to make money. Nearly every gamer agrees the level of monetization in Diablo Immortal is unprecedented and a terrible direction for the industry.
My discussion today involves the idea something can being bad for one group or individual and good for another. Leading to difficult problems which are not easily solved.
What this blog is not about
One of the big arguments for monetization in Diablo Immortal is it’s really just pay-to-play rather than play-to-win. This is not my focus here today.
An argument for the pay-to-win model is that people can simply not pay. Again, not my focus here.
Another group argues that legislation against such predatory games will solve the problem. Again, not my focus.
However, I must cut through all the nonsense before I get to my actual point.
Addictions and Laws
People have addictions. Drugs including alcohol, food, gambling, love, whatever. Addictions exist and Diablo Immortal uses the underlying cause of these addictions to harm people. The game uses a tried and tested method based on dopamine. It works. People will be harmed.
Laws can’t stop it, although they can slow it certainly. If you make something illegal then a black-market arises which is worse than a legal, if predatory, market. Violent criminals gain huge sums of money.
Finally, my point
Diablo Immortal is bad for addictive personalities. It is bad for people who don’t have the time, money, or personal stability to play the game safely.
It is good for players who enjoy the underlying game and have the money, time, and personal stability to play it without trouble. It is obviously good for Blizzard Entertainment if it generates considerable revenue.
Where does that leave us? It’s not as simple as enlightened self-interest. I acknowledge this game will hurt people. I accept that addictions are real and the game taps into them and causes real harm. I fully get the manufacturers know it will cause harm and don’t care. The game won’t hurt me but I am not without empathy. I know it will hurt many people.
How to Fix the Problem
I’m against laws that outlaw such games for a number of reasons. The black-market as discussed above. The fact that many people can and will enjoy Diablo Immortal without negative consequences to their lives. Banning the game punishes those people.
The solution is elusive and difficult, as is often the case.
People who feel empathy for the harm Diablo Immortal will cause to others should not play. People who are against monetization of such games should not play. Friends and family must pay attention to those they love for signs of danger. Financial Institutions can implement notification policies when certain thresholds are met in regards to money issues.
Banning the game is a simple solution but it won’t work in the long run. Harassing the company might work in the short term but someone else will always take their place.
Easy? No. Simple problems have easy solutions. Difficult problems are not easily solved, no matter what an influencer might say. Don’t like my answers? I’m not surprised. Difficult solutions are never popular.
If enough people have critical thinking skills, empathy for the suffering of others, and understand the principles of enlightened self-interest; Diablo Immortal and its ilk will die. Good riddance.