In the current blog too Diablo 4 read: "Our goal has always been to incorporate elements from shared world games without the game ever feeling like it is drifting into the massively multiplayer territory." So Diablo 4 should not become an MMORPG, but still sounds like it.
A single player MMO?
In the same blog you can read that you are in Diablo 4 in a "Shared World". That means you play together with other players in the same world and you can also meet these players. You will meet some, especially in cities. This should rarely be the case on the go, unless it is a world event, such as the appearance of a world boss. This should then attract significantly more players with whom you interact.
That sounds a lot like "MMO". Only the number of players you can meet will probably not do justice to a real MMORPG. Blizzard keeps a low profile precisely at this number. So why the statement that we don't get an MMORPG?
The announcement of Diablo 4 at Blizzcon last year has already led to some criticism from fans. Even then, the action RPG sounded a lot like an MMO. And some players didn't like that. Yes, experiencing adventure with friends is cool and has always been part of the series. But only in small groups and with friends. This feeling of competing alone (or just with a handful of buddies) against this superiority of evil is what makes the game so appealing. This feeling of play could be lost if you suddenly come across other players who may still be doing the same quests as yourself.
Blizzard has heard this criticism and doesn't want to scare away Diablo's single player fans. For some of them, the term "MMORPG" alone is a red cloth. The company therefore avoids this designation. Nevertheless, online games such as Destiny or Warframe and The Division show how well the shared world concept is well received. Blizzard would definitely win a lot of new players for Diablo. So what to do? You don't want to scare off the single player fans, but at the same time want to have the online players as customers. Games-as-a-Service titles simply bring in a lot of money.
So Diablo 4 has to convey the feel of a single player title without neglecting the online aspect. This can work because the players are in an online world, but only meet very few players there and, above all, can experience the story alone. It remains to be seen whether this game principle will work. When? When Diablo 4 appears. But that can still take a while.
Source: Blizzard's blog
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