The free-to-play game launched on June 2 and brings a relatively complete Diablo experience to mobile (and now PC in Early Access), albeit with a few simplified systems. As is common in free-to-play games, however, there are many optional in-game purchases, and Diablo: Immortal’s best loot is seemingly pretty hard to get without spending a lot of money – and even then it isn’t guaranteed.
Players have taken to Reddit and Twitter to raise their concerns, and Legendary Gems are at the centre of the microtransaction controversy. These are essentially powerful upgrades, ranked from one to five stars, that players unlock by completing Elder Rift dungeons with added Legendary Crest modifiers. The best rated Legendary Gems can only be found by cracking open Legendary Crests.
The problem is, only three Legendary Crests are available each month unless players spend money, and they essentially act like randomised loot boxes. According to Forbes, players only have a 0.05% chance of getting a five star Gem for each Legendary Crest used.
Ok hold up, am I understanding this correctly for Immortal
Once you get a legendary gem to rank 10 you can further enhance that gem and its item’s power to the next level (Awakening) which needs a mat that literally only comes from the store for $15?
Bruh tell me this is wrong
— Ted Bacinschi (@Slootbag) June 5, 2022
The most efficient way to gain Legendary Gems is also very expensive – you’d need to spend $100 on the game’s premium currency (which can’t be earned under any circumstance except spending cash), which would net players 45 Legendary Crests, making each one about $2.20. There is apparently a failsafe feature that guarantees one Legendary Gem when the player buys 50 Legendary Crests, but Twitch streamer Quin69 spent close to $3,000 without seeing a single five-star Gem.
Other microtransactions are peppered into end-game content too, such as a $15 purchase being (currently) the only way to take Legendary Gems to their maximum potential, known as the Awakening Level.
Players don’t need to spend money to enjoy most of the game (though it will ask you to repeatedly). However, to maximise a character in the endgame will seemingly cost either a lot of money, or a lot of time and luck – leading many to brand the game as “pay-to-win” after a certain point.
As noted in IGN’s review in progress, the earlier hours of the game can seemingly be played with consistent and active progression. However, players report coming up against a wall at around level 35, requiring more grinding to get to the maximum level 60. After that point, in order to get the best gear possible (a common endgame goal for Diablo players), the microtransaction pressure seemingly really kicks in.
Blizzard has not yet publicly responded to the community backlash, but we’ve contacted the company for comment.
Diablo: Immortal was pulled from sale in Belgium and the Netherlands just a few days ahead of its launch date due to lootboxes being considered gambling in these countries. This idea was backed by the Norwegian Consumer Council, who also last week released a report backed by consumer councils in 18 countries that called lootboxes manipulative and exploitative.
Ryan Dinsdale is an IGN freelancer who occasionally remembers to tweet @thelastdinsdale. He’ll talk about The Witcher all day.