Diablo 4 has a cash shop, and I’m mad about it! Well, at least that’s how the story usually goes. People have been complaining about the cash shop since the game launched, and I think a lot of good points have been made: Items are overpriced. Items are bundled in a way that makes the pricing even worse. Platinum itself is overpriced.
But I’ve got another kind of problem: nothing in the shop excites me. I’m prepared to splash some cash for some silly cosmetics, yet for a game based on sins and hell and all that fun stuff, Diablo 4’s item shop somehow lacks temptation.
An item shop should be a glittering thing. I should feel like a child looking through the window of a candy shop, dreaming of getting everything, knowing that I have to pick just one item. Diablo 4, however, doesn’t just let you buy one item. You need to buy a whole armor set, not just a helm. You can’t just buy a gravemarker or something cool to place on your back. You can’t just buy a horse, you have to buy the armor and trophies as well. The other day, I saw a trophy (a demon head to hang off the side of my mount) that was perfection. I might’ve even spent up to five dollars on it, if given the opportunity. The game, however, didn’t want my five dollars. It wanted fifteen dollars for a barding I wouldn’t use and an additional trophy I had no use for. You can only hang one trophy, after all. This candy shop doesn’t sell candy by the piece, it sells it by the pound, and that’s a bit much for me.
Compare that to a fully operational item shop, like Fortnite’s. Epic Games has a more tempting price model for their V-Bucks. First of all, they’ve done away with the 1:1 ratio of dollar to V-Buck. Instead, a pack of 13,500 V-Bucks comes to $79.99. This creates a kind of “Monopoly Money” feeling when shopping. I don’t know the exact conversion off-hand, so I don’t really think about it. With Diablo 4, their platinum is pretty thinly veiled as dollars. 2,500 platinum is just about $25 in most scenarios. If it’s too easy to look at something and say ‘that costs $25,’ that makes dropping the money less tempting, and shopping less fun.
Fortnite has also mastered the art of the bundle, which is something Diablo 4 desperately needs. Fortnite usually gives players the option of buying cosmetics individually. Do you want a harvester? A weapon wrap? Maybe an outfit? Get any of those items at full price. Want them all? Well, Fortnite often offers bundles. For the price of, say, two individual items, you may receive a five-item set. With deals like that, bundles are priced to move. When you’re looking at the shop and say “well, for a few V-Bucks more, I can have everything,” you’re more likely to want everything. People who want one item win. People who may want all items win. Everyone feels like they’re getting what they want and getting a deal. Remember my experience with the demon head trophy? Diablo should have offered it to me at full price, and tempted me with an alluring bundle. Instead, the attempt to force me into a bundle from the start cost them a sale.
For a game based on sins and Hell, Diablo 4’s item shop somehow lacks temptation.
You may be thinking that this all sounds very pro-cash shop. I’m not going to lie to you, dear reader: I get the reservations, but I myself love a good cash shop. Tempt me when I log in. Make me want, nay, need, to buy more platinum (but not in a pay-to-win kinda way). Make the big platinum pack desirable because I know I’m going to buy more items in the future. This is where the game runs into its second issue: class-specific cosmetics.
Right now, Diablo 4 seems to be saving class-agnostic gear sets for battle passes. In some ways this is a smart move, helping increase the value of a battle pass. However, the current item shop’s model has a class-specific issue.
It’s understandable that armor sets would come with class-specific restrictions. After all, who wants to see a barbarian in a sorcerer’s robes? (Well, me, but that’s beside the point). Items like grave markers and items that sit on your back should be class-agnostic. I would even argue the same for emotes. The more items you can pitch as being usable across all of a player’s characters, the more valuable those items will seem to the player
Finally, Diablo 4 needs to find a rhythm for its item shop. Right now, items seem to come out randomly. As a Necromancer main, I can’t remember the last time something new came out for my class. Plenty has come out for Druids and Barbarians. When you aren’t offering class-agnostic gear, it’s even more important to spread the love (new releases) evenly between the classes. A hungry customer will begin to feel like an ignored customer if they aren’t given a steady stream of products to enjoy. As a necromancer waiting for something new, I even tracked down the Japan-exclusive Macabre cosmetics for Diablo 4’s Burger King collaboration.
Diablo 4 is one of my favorite games of the year. It’s too early to say it’s my “Game of the Year,” but it’s certainly my most-played so far. For a cosmetic-fiend like myself, I’ve felt conflicted by the offerings thus far. I want to see Diablo 4 improve its shop. I want to feel the push and pull of a shop that makes me want to spend my cash. I selfishly want more necromancer (or at least class-agnostic) stuff. I want this hellish delight of a game to regularly tempt me to spend my money the way it has tempted me to spend my time. But we’re just not there yet.
NEXT: Diablo 4 Players In Disbelief With Disappointing Season 1 Patch