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Is Diablo IV Free to Play?

The short answer is no, Diablo IV is not a free to play game. Instead, it will be a paid game with an upfront cost like previous mainline Diablo games. Read on as a fellow ARPG fan helps break down everything you need to know about Diablo IV‘s pricing and monetization!

As an avid fan of action RPGs, I‘ve eagerly followed every piece of Diablo IV news since its announcement. Like many fans, I soured a bit on the franchise after the disastrous monetization of Diablo Immortal.

But based on everything Blizzard has revealed so far, I‘m optimistic that Diablo IV can return to form and provide the rich gameplay experience the series is known for. Today I‘ll share everything I‘ve learned about Diablo IV‘s monetization strategy so you can decide if it‘s worth the upfront cost when it releases on June 6, 2023.

A Brief History of Diablo Monetization

To analyze Diablo IV‘s pricing model, it helps to understand how monetization in the franchise has evolved over time.

The first two Diablo games on PC in 1996 and 2000 were traditional paid titles, releasing in a time before free-to-play gaming and profitable microtransaction models were commonplace. Diablo III in 2012 took the first tentative step towards post-launch monetization with the controversial Real Money Auction House, but this feature was quickly removed within a year due to backlash.

Then in 2022, the franchise took a sharp detour into the mobile free-to-play space with Diablo Immortal. Here‘s a quick stats comparison between PC Diablo III and mobile Immortal:

GameLaunch YearRevenue ModelTotal RevenuePeak Daily Players
Diablo III2012Base Game Sales + Expansions>$1 billion4.7 million
Diablo Immortal2022Free-to-Play Microtransactions>$100 million (first 2 months)10 million

As you can see, the free-to-play approach led to explosive revenue growth. But it came at the cost of extreme player backlash over the extent of monetization. Top YouTube reviews were overwhelmingly negative.

One Reddit thread aggregating feedback from long-time fans had over 30,000 upvotes. The top comments included:

"This cynical cash grab betrays everything that made Diablo great. I‘m out."

"A soulless husk of a game propped up by predatory microtransactions."

These reactions likely influenced Blizzard‘s complete 180 on monetization for Diablo IV.

Diablo IV Returns to Paid Model

So how is Blizzard pricing Diablo IV? Rather than free-to-play, the game will return to the traditional upfront payment model of past mainline entries.

The standard edition will cost the regular $59.99 price for a new premium game. The deluxe edition runs $89.99 and includes cosmetic bonuses like armor skins and weapon transmogs.

While you‘ll need to buy the base game, Blizzard has confirmed there is no additional monthly subscription or any other recurring fees. All post-launch content like new story acts and classes will be free.

Microtransactions do exist in Diablo IV, but are restricted to optional cosmetics like glows and pets. The developers have promised that absolutely no power or gear will be sold that gives players an advantage. The last thing they want is to repeat the Immortal disaster.

Personally, I don‘t mind paying upfront for a complete game experience without gameplay-altering microtransactions. Based on Blizzard‘s statements, Diablo IV sounds like it will deliver exactly that.

How Does It Compare to Other ARPGs?

Paid games with purely cosmetic microtransactions are common among popular ARPGs these days. Let‘s look at how Diablo IV contrasts with two big competitors – Path of Exile and Lost Ark:

GameUpfront CostMicrotransactionsRevenuePeak Players
Diablo IV$59.99Cosmetic OnlyTBDTBD
Path of ExileFreeCosmetic Only>$200 million (2021)157k
Lost ArkFreeCosmetic + Convenience>$1.5 billion (2022)1.3 million

Path of Exile is fully free to play with only decorative microtransactions. It sustains continual large content updates through these cosmetics alone, an impressive feat.

Lost Ark opts for "pay for convenience" items that accelerate progression in addition to cosmetics. This more aggressive monetization has led to insane revenue but also mixed reactions from players.

Time will tell where Diablo IV lands in terms of revenue and player reception. Based on everything Blizzard has said, it appears closest to Path of Exile‘s strictly cosmetic model.

Gameplay Improvements Over Diablo III

While monetization strategy is important, what really counts is the game itself. How does Diablo IV‘s gameplay stack up compared to the previous entry Diablo III?

As a long-time fan, I enjoyed Diablo III but felt it veered a bit too far into mass appeal and simplicity compared to previous entries. In contrast, based on extensive hands-on previews, Diablo IV appears to be going back to deeper RPG systems reminiscent of Diablo II.

Here are some direct comparisons of gameplay features between Diablo III and IV:

SystemDiablo IIIDiablo IV
World StructureLinear zonesSeamless open world
EndgameRiftsRifts + Nightmare zones
ItemizationRandomized statsFixed stats
Char Build DepthStreamlinedImproved runes + charms
Monster PacksAll basicNow with elite affixes
Physics/GoreBasicGreatly enhanced

Diablo IV‘s open world, elite monsters, rune/charm systems and greatly improved combat feedback seem like they‘ll provide a much deeper and rewarding experience for veteran ARPG players.

The game also features five richly detailed regions to explore at launch. Integrated seamlessly with the open overworld, dungeons promise a sense of unknown and danger far beyond D3‘s repetitive rift runs.

There‘s a clear focus on recapturing the darkness and gritty gothic feel long-time fans love. I already know I‘ll happily pay full price just to explore the world and slay demons with weighty, visceral combat.

What Experience Suits You Best?

A great aspect of Diablo IV is that it accommodates both solo players as well as online co-op fans. So what‘s the better way to enjoy it?

If you prefer to adventure alone, you‘ll be glad to know the full campaign and endgame can be experienced entirely solo. You‘ll still need an internet connection, but can play privately without interacting with others. The solo campaign should take around 35 hours to complete.

Personally, I‘ve always loved playing Diablo co-op. Diablo IV fully embraces online play, with the world populated by other players in hub towns. Seamless drop-in/drop-out co-op lets friends adventure together easily.

Trading and other social systems also make it easy to meet fellow demon slayers. Diablo has always been best enjoyed cooperatively in my opinion, and Diablo IV looks built to support that.

But if playing with strangers isn‘t your thing, you‘ll still have a complete experience playing solo. There‘s no wrong choice!

Which Platform is Best?

One last key purchasing decision – should you play Diablo IV on PC or console? Here‘s a quick rundown of the platform differences:


  • Ultrawide monitor support
  • Uncapped framrates above 60 FPS
  • Greater graphics customization


  • Fixed 4K/60 FPS performance
  • Big screen TV experience
  • Couch co-op potential

Diablo veterans may prefer PC for the faster framrates and controls. But the console versions seem very well-optimized for big screens. I‘d suggest trying the open beta on both to see what you enjoy most!

No matter your platform, you‘ll need a stable internet connection. For console, PlayStation Plus or Xbox Live subscriptions are also required.

Final Thoughts

Blizzard seems to have learned important lessons from the failure of Diablo Immortal and earlier franchise missteps. Diablo IV signifies a welcome return to form by embracing a paid model and focusing on core gameplay ahead of monetization.

As a lifetime ARPG fan, I‘m thrilled to return to a gothic open world and visceral combat without feeling nickeled and dimed. And I‘m happy to pay a fair $60 price for a complete Diablo experience.

Based on everything Blizzard has shown so far, Diablo IV looks poised to deliver a bloody great time for series fans new and old. See you in the open beta!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.