Diablo 1 original pitch contained microtransactions

David Brevik, co-founder of Blizzard North and one of the leading forces behind Diablo 1 and Diablo 2, released a rather unique piece of gaming history, the original pitch for Diablo 1.

While that would be interesting enough on its own, given how influential Diablo has become to the ARPG genre, what caught my eye is the team's plan to sell "small additional purchases to revitalize their existing game", or what we these days call microtransactions. Here's the full quote:

"There are really two products here: Diablo, which stands on its own, and its expansion packs. These packs would consist of one disk and maybe an information card in a small package. The disk would contain new elements that are directly installable into the base Diablo game. These elements would include: new magic items, new creatures, new traps and new level graphics. Expansion disks would all be different (or maybe 16 or 32 combinations) and would contain approximately 16 new elements in varying degrees of rarity. A sample disk might contain: One rare sword, three uncommon magic items, eight common items, two creatures, one trap, and a new hallway type.

A player would buy a new expansion disk or two, go home and install the new data into his game. The new elements would be incorporated into the random mix when a new level is generated. Perhaps a player's character should have one goodie directly placed into his inventory for instant gratification.

We believe these expansion disks should be priced at around $4,95 with the hope that they would be placed near cash registers as point-of-purchase items. Players would buy these packs as an afterthought, or maybe in an attempt to collect them all. A 'collector'-type art card, representing the rare item in a pack, could enhance this sense of collectability.

If Diablo and the expansion packs prove successful, additional expansion pack series could be released. Each series would have a theme like Dark Nightmares or Holy Avengers."

Obviously none of these features came to pass, and thank Tyrael for that, but its interesting to see how the concept behind microtransactions dates to the earliest years of modern PC gaming. Who knows how many other games had similar features in mind that they ended up scrapping in fear of angering their playerbase.

If you're a fan of Diablo, or game development in general, I fully recommend you give the pitch a read as it really is a fascinating document.