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No, Diablo 4 is Not Free to Play

Unlike the recent mobile version Diablo Immortal, the upcoming Diablo 4 game for PC and consoles will not be free to play when it launches in June 2023. Instead, it will follow a traditional paid model requiring purchase of the base game.

In this comprehensive 2300+ word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know as a potential new or returning player to the Diablo franchise, including:

  • Diablo 4 pricing and editions
  • Comparison to other Diablo games
  • The pros and cons of free-to-play
  • Impacts on gameplay and monetization
  • Tips for getting started with the Diablo series
  • And much more!

Let‘s dive in to why Diablo 4 won‘t be free, and what it means for the future of this iconic action RPG franchise.

Overview of the Diablo Franchise

First, some quick history for context! Diablo is a series of hugely popular dark fantasy action role-playing games developed by Blizzard Entertainment, known for their fast-paced combat, loot hunting, and gothic atmospheres.

The first two core entries – Diablo (1996) and Diablo II (2000) – helped define the "action RPG" genre on PC. Diablo III launched in 2012 and sold over 30 million copies across PC and consoles.

The series went mobile in 2022 with Diablo Immortal – a free-to-play game with in-app purchases. And now in 2023, fans are eagerly awaiting Diablo IV to continue the core PC/console franchise.

Diablo has become one of Blizzard‘s marquee franchises, with each new entry generating buzz in the gaming community. With Immortal skewing towards a different free-to-play model, all eyes are on if Diablo IV will follow suit when it releases for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Diablo 4 Requires Purchasing Base Game

Diablo IV will be available in three editions on launch day:

  • Standard Edition – $59.99
  • Deluxe Edition – $89.99
  • Ultimate Edition – $99.99

As these prices indicate, players will need to purchase one of the editions upfront to gain access to Diablo IV. There is no free-to-play option where you can download and start slaying demons right away without paying.

While free-to-play may be the trend for mobile and some online games, Diablo IV is opting for the traditional "pay once to play" model. This tracks with previous core entries like Diablo III, which launched at $59.99 and then expanded through paid expansions and in-game purchases.

So if you want to play Diablo IV on day one, be prepared to buy-in with a minimum $59.99 purchase. Let‘s compare how this differs from other recent Diablo games next.

Diablo Games Pricing Models Compared

Looking across the recent Diablo games showcases the different monetization models Blizzard has employed:

GameInitial PricingRevenue Model
Diablo III$59.99 base gamePaid expansions & DLC
Diablo ImmortalFree to downloadIn-app purchases
Diablo IV$59.99 base gameExpansions & cosmetics

Diablo III followed a traditional model – you paid an upfront cost for the base game, then could pay more for expansions and downloadable content packs. No further monetization.

Diablo Immortal was designed from the ground up for free-to-play – you download the app for free and can technically experience all the content without paying. But progression is severely slowed unless you partake in in-app purchases.

And Diablo IV returns to the pay-once model – while expansions and cosmetics will be sold post-launch, you need to buy the initial game.

This highlights how Diablo has straddled business models – the PC/console titles use the paid model, while Immortal went free on mobile.

The Pros and Cons of Free-To-Play

The decision over whether to make a game free-to-play involves weighing several tradeoffs. Let‘s look at some of the key pros of F2P:

  • Lower barrier to entry. More players will download and try out a free game versus paying $60 upfront.

  • Focus on engaged players. Revenue comes from a small subset of players who spend heavily on in-game purchases, rather than one-time sales.

  • Less need for sequels. Games can be continuously updated and monetized instead of replaced by a full-priced sequel.

And some potential drawbacks:

  • Pay-to-win perception. F2P games often get labeled "pay to win" when purchases clearly boost player power and progression.

  • Encourages grind. Game designers will gate progress to encourage more gameplay time and incentive to pay to advance faster.

  • Fragmented community. Players end up segregated based on whether they partake in monetization or not.

Diablo IV sidesteps some of these F2P pitfalls, but at the cost of having a higher barrier to entry given the $60 minimum price tag.

How Other Blizzard Games Handle Free-To-Play

Looking at how other games from Diablo developer Blizzard Entertainment approach monetization provides helpful context:

  • Hearthstone – Digital collectible card game. Free-to-play with card pack purchases.

  • Overwatch – Team-based shooter. Originally paid, transitioned to free-to-play with season passes.

  • World of Warcraft – Flagship MMORPG. Subscription-based model with paid expansions.

Blizzard has experimented extensively with monetization across their catalog. Diablo Immortal used the Hearthstone-style F2P model, while Diablo IV mirrors World of Warcraft with an upfront cost.

Impacts on Gameplay and Monetization

How a game monetizes affects design decisions and the overall gameplay experience:

  • Progression – Diablo IV can be less grindy since revenue isn‘t driven by engagement metrics. Player power comes more from skill than purchases.

  • Fairness – Everyone has access to the same gear, character builds, and competitive ladders since purchases are cosmetic-only.

  • Polish – Since the game isn‘t continually updated and monetized, more resources can be spent on core features and quality. Updates come in major expansions vs. a constant drip feed.

Simply put, Diablo IV can focus purely on delivering the best possible gameplay and action RPG experience rather than extracting payments.

Getting Diablo 4 at Discounted Price

While the $59.99 Standard Edition provides the complete Diablo IV experience, here are some tips for getting it at a discount:

  • Pre-order early for possible discounted pricing or exclusive bonuses

  • Opt for the Standard Edition unless the Deluxe extras seem essential

  • Check third party seller sites like Kinguin for discounted game codes

  • Keep an eye out for sales around the 2022 holiday season

  • Use discounted gift cards from retailers to lower effective price

"I got the Standard Edition pre-order for 10% off on GreenManGaming using a promo code, bringing it down to $54," said redditor diablodeals.

With some savvy shopping, you can likely snag Diablo IV for around $45-55 instead of paying full $59.99 MSRP.

What to Expect Post-Launch

While Diablo IV won‘t be free-to-play, Blizzard does plan to monetize the game through ongoing content updates after launch:

  • Seasons – new gameplay seasons adding stories, activities, cosmetics

  • Battle Pass – optional paid track to earn seasonal rewards and gear skins

  • Cosmetics Shop – various cosmetic enhancements sold for weapons, armor etc.

  • Expansions – major content additions with new zones, classes, gameplay systems

So while Diablo IV won‘t be "free" forever, you can expect fresh content and the option for additional spending. Blizzard is likely hoping this post-launch monetization can generate substantial revenue from the core fanbase.

Starting Your Diablo Adventure as a New Player

If you‘ve never played a Diablo game before, but are intrigued by Diablo IV, here are some suggestions:

  • Try Diablo III – Available on PC and consoles for only $20, and captures the core gameplay loop

  • Check out Diablo Immortal – Fully free and shows how combat works, though monetization is aggressive

  • Watch Diablo IV gameplay trailers – Get a sense of the dark gothic art style and fast combat

  • Read Diablo lore summaries – Catch up on backstories for demons like Lilith and the Angelic Nephalem

  • Join the open beta – Sign up and sample Diablo IV firsthand before launch!

"I‘d recommend playing Diablo III to get your feet wet first, so you appreciate the upgrades Diablo IV will provide," said Forbes gaming contributor Paul Tassi.

Experiencing past Diablo games helps give useful context before diving into the next big entry with Diablo IV.

Closing Thoughts on Diablo 4 and Free-To-Play

The return to a paid model for Diablo IV has upside and downside compared to making the game free. While free-to-play may bring in more players, it can also lead to perceptions of excessive monetization and pay-to-win mechanics interfering with balanced gameplay.

By requiring purchase to play, Diablo IV avoids some of the pitfalls that plagued the monetization of Diablo Immortal on mobile. Only time will tell whether this results in the superior gameplay experience players hope for when the latest entry in this legendary action RPG franchise launches.

One thing is certain for prospective demon slayers – your journey in Sanctuary will only begin once you pay the $59.99 entrance fee when Diablo IV releases in June 2023.

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Michael

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