Will there be another Diablo 3 expansion?
I’ve argued in the past that we should get a Diablo 3 expansion. And I still think it would be a good idea, especially if it can serve as the launching point for Diablo 4, which is heavily rumored as a BlizzCon 2019 reveal announcement. But there’s a big difference between I think this would be a great idea and I think this is going to happen, and that gulf yawns terrifyingly wide when it comes to a Diablo 3 expansion. In short, I do not think it is likely. Moreover, I think what we know and have heard about the development of Diablo 4 indicates that there is very, very little chance of a Diablo 3 expansion, or indeed any new content beyond new Seasonal play for the seven year old game.
Why Reaper of Souls was the last Diablo 3 expansion
I hesitate to use anonymously sourced articles, probably more than I should. But in this case it’s hard to argue with Jason Schreier’s track record, and this Kotaku post from last year still does a great job of laying out why we haven’t — and likely won’t — see a Diablo 3 expansion after Reaper of Souls.
Essentially, it comes down to the negative response of players to the Real Money Auction House, and the assumption by those at Activision that RoS was going to be a flop. They decided to shift focus away from Diablo 3 in anticipation of the failure of the expansion pack. Instead, Reaper of Souls was one of Blizzard’s best expansions, but by then the decision to cancel the second expansion to Diablo 3 had already been made.
If the anonymous sources are being accurate, then the changes made following that decision to Team 3 — the team behind Diablo 3 and especially Reaper of Souls — made it practically impossible for a Diablo 3 expansion to be created. Much of the team went to other projects, and again according to the article what remained of Team 3 began working on a Diablo Dark Souls-alike code named Hades, which has since been canceled.
Whether or not these reports are accurate, even without them we can observe what the development teams have been doing on Diablo 3 since RoS released. The Necromancer pack and the Darkening of Tristram have been the biggest content releases since, and neither really had a lot of new content to them — the Necromancer pack just created a new class to play through the game that was already there, and the Darkening of Tristram takes Diablo and recreates it within Diablo 3. Both are cool, but neither is strictly speaking new. When the newest things included in your game are Seasonal themes, it’s hard o argue that your game is getting the kind of development focus that would lead to a new expansion.
Would a new expansion be a good thing?
Now, based on what we already know about Diablo 4 and its potential development, it’s been canceled and rebooted and scrapped and restarted a few times since 2016, and the game we’re potentially going to see at BlizzCon 2019 won’t be Hades with its Dark Souls influenced gameplay — and really, thank Imperius for that. If Team 3 had been allowed to go into a new expansion after Reaper of Souls, I think it’s possible that the Diablo franchise wouldn’t be talking about Diablo 4 right now, but rather a third expansion for the game we currently have, because Reaper of Souls was a triumph and an example of a game learning from its missteps and coming out swinging. A second expansion on the heels of that would have been the best Diablo development team ever working on an expansion that would have had nowhere to go but up, dealing with the great springboard that RoS handed them.
But that’s not the world we live in. However, if Blizzard were to put the current Diablo development team on a new Diablo 3 expansion, and they somehow found time to work on it and get it release ready within the next year, it could be a good move. But there’s a lot riding on that if, and I think it’s extremely unlikely — more unlikely than an entirely new game in the franchise. The decision to move resources away from Diablo 3 came at exactly the wrong moment. It was Blizzard literally shooting itself in the foot, and while the smaller team has done a lot to keep Diablo 3 current and bring it to new consoles where it finds more players all the time, a new expansion would definitely have been welcome.
I’d be thrilled to be wrong, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Diablo 3 to get any more new development. I don’t expect any further expansions when it seems very likely that the focus is on Diablo 4.
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