Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

Diablo 3 Battle Royale

I’ve never been a Diablo fan. The hack-and-slash combat has always felt boring and mechanical to me; even the shiny 3D veneer of the most recent installment wasn’t enough to coerce me to dive in and risk a repetitive strain injury. Truth be told, as much as I decried the heinous DRM Blizzard concocted for Diablo 3, it was really just another bullet point on a long list of reasons for me to avoid the game.

Regardless, I recognize a good idea when I see one.

Internet darling Jesse Cox – infamous for his Terraria videos and chocolatey baritone – is rallying support for a “hardcore arena” event for Diablo 3. He envisions a 64 man tournament that apes the hardcore difficulty setting of the single-player game. Upon defeat the player’s character remains permanently dead and all their equipment is rewarded to the winning player as a spoil of war. The tournament ends with a four way battle royale in an arena wreathed in fire and other hazards. The last man standing is rewarded with an epic item and is allowed to return the next season as a competitor.

There’s a lot of potential here. Although I find the action-per-minute hand gyrations of a career Starcraft player a fascinating oddity, I’ve never been compelled to watch a televised match of the game. The promise of prizes and heated rivalries have never been enough to pull me in. Why not just watch an amateur match on YouTube for free?

Adding loss into the mix changes everything. The challengers wouldn’t simply be fishing for prestige and cash, they would be protecting an investment. Losing a character would be losing the months of time poured into building that character – time that the player would never be able to get back. Each win would spur fans in the crowd into hysteria, and each loss would be embraced with the same schadenfreude delight that NASCAR fans engorge themselves on when a vehicle explodes. It’d be the first esport with real stakes and emotional investment.

Jesse Cox has penned a petition to Blizzard to implement this “hardcore arena” mode. If the prospect of seeing players fight to the death in an esports events tantalizes you, I suggest checking it out. He already has my signature.

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By Mathew
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer