Between the real-money auction house, the lack of character progression options, and the Blizzard-admitted lackluster endgame, Diablo III has fueled a lot of controversy in the several weeks since its launch. And it's that controversy that has inspired a fistful of recent editorials that are both for and against some of the design choices that the well-respected developer made. Read on...
PC World points out the differences in Diablo II and Diablo III's economies:
Let's look to the past for a moment; what economy Diablo II had was largely a black market of shady deals haphazardly assembled by the game’s community. It’s telling that Diablo II traders used an item, The Stone of Jordan, as a de facto currency rather than the in-game gold (which was practically worthless in player-to-player transactions). Blizzard hadn’t really planned for much of a trading community in Diablo II, and it showed.
Diablo III, however, has a highly organized auction house (though I’ll be the first to admit the interface needs work) that allows you to search for the stats you need on your gear to quickly and efficiently improve your equipment using the money you’ve made from playing the game and selling other items you’ve found.
Gamasutra suggests that the RMAH forced certain design choices that weren't necessary in Diablo II:
Diablo 3 takes a different approach, forcing players to upgrade gear substantially for the Inferno difficulty mode with radically increased damage from enemies and "enrage timers" that basically kill off the player if certain enemies essential for acquisition of good loot aren't defeated quickly enough. As a result, there is a "grind" for upgrades (or for the in-game currency of gold to buy the upgrades on a gold-based equivalent of the RMAH) that begins on Inferno difficulty and makes the RMAH more tempting.
This spider to the RMAH's fly does not make the game more enjoyable, is inconsistent with Diablo 2's approach, brings the game's well-paced progression (up to that point) to a screeching halt, and forces the old lady to swallow a larger animal to compensate: instant, nearly consequence-free re-specialization of character abilities.
Shacknews calls the endgame "poorly planned" and "not fun":
I guess that Blizzard may have subconsciously hoped that players with that World of Warcraft mentality would be able to sustain Diablo III as they moved toward the PvP patch. But personally, I broke my grinding addiction about a year and a half ago, and I have stopped playing Diablo III because I recognized the addiction signs I had in WoW. This time, however, I wasn't going to let myself become one of those mindless zombies I was killing in the game.
I am surprised that Blizzard did not have a longer term plan for the game. I'm sure an expansion is already planned (Diablo II: Lord of Destruction came out only a year after the original), but how many times can you kill Belial and Azmodan without wanting to beat your head on the desk when your gear upgrade doesn't drop? There are no other options. And since I suck at PvP, the 1.1 patch doesn't interest me. But even that is still at some undefined time in the future.
And then Kotaku calls us all entitled for wanting more from Diablo III's endgame:
It makes sense that players are expecting more than what Diablo III currently provides. This is the type of audience the gaming industry—with its day 1 DLC and long-term content plans— has primed. An audience hungry for more, because there always is more.
I'd go as far as to say that games like Diablo III are already somewhat complicit in that reality. Games that have procedurally generated elements have greater replay value, and if a player doesn't lose interest, the game does its best to provide ‘new' material to stay engaged with indefinitely.