Diablo Immortal includes several hidden progression caps that deliberately limit the amount of loot players can earn through the free portion of the game, seemingly encouraging them to spend real money.
The hidden plugs were discovered by YouTuber and Diablo Immortal aficionado Echohack, who described his findings in a 15-minute video (Opens in a new tab) (thanks, Forbes (Opens in a new tab)). While the game doesn't explicitly mention these loot limits, Echohack was able to identify seven limits during his extended time with the game, including reduced item and gem drops.
They said that side quests, purple bosses, and random map events stop giving players loot rewards after completing the first five per day. Similarly, Legendary item drop rate drops significantly after your sixth Legendary drop of the day, as does the gem drop rate bonus given to players who formed a party of four.
On top of that, players can only unlock five Zoltan Kule treasure rooms per day. Hidden Lairs also only reward a maximum of six gems per day, regardless of how many random dungeons you complete.
Echohack was reportedly able to discover these hidden plugs after "massive amounts of play and testing," and their discoveries were based entirely on observations made by them and their friends. While some of the caps are hard to verify, others, like the side quest reward cap, can be measured more easily.
It is important to note that these limits are not displayed in the main game. Players can unknowingly hit reward limits, not realizing that their grind's marginal benefit has dropped significantly. They put intangible obstacles against players, who must keep track of the rewards they've earned in a day, or complete a challenge with no rewards at the end.
The problems of free-to-play
(Image credit: Blizzard Entertainment)
On top of that, there seems to be no similar cap on paid items in Diablo Immortal. The game does not operate a loot box system per se, instead featuring Elder Rifts that serve a similar function. These short dungeons offer players rewards, but must be unlocked by spending Crests (keys that can be found in-game or purchased with money).
As Forbes points out, there appears to be no limitation on the number of ridges a player can purchase or rifts they can enter. You are free to purchase as many Legendary Emblems as you like and use them to enter as many Rifts as you can, earning valuable gear and loot as you do so. So while players who enjoy the free-to-play side of Diablo Immortal face deliberately low drop rates and penalties, those willing to spend real money can get around the limitations.
Echohack says the system sends a very clear message: Players who spend money on Diablo Immortal have a huge head start, while those who want to enjoy the game for free are often unable to progress their character, despite hours of work. .
Some Diablo Immortal players have suggested that limits be imposed to counter bots, but Echohack feels the limits are so strict that they undermine Diablo Immortal's core game design. "In a game that's supposed to be about smashing and killing monsters, what the hell if everything you do is so aggressively limited?" they have said.
Casual gamers who only play Diablo Immortal in short sessions every day are unlikely to hit those minimum limits, but more enthusiastic gamers hoping to immerse themselves in the game for a few hours can hit the limits. It will do nothing to improve the game's standing among a Diablo community already wary of predatory monetization practices.