Posted 07 February 2013 - 02:49 PM
OP, I think your biggest assumption here is that the Diablo franchise was ever one of Blizzard's BIGGEST flagship productions.
From what I know, it started with the original Warcraft. The original Diablo came next, after much dissention about what it should look like (you mention the "semi-cartoonish graphics" in D3, but the original D1 was conceived in CLAYMATION, believe it or don't...kinda lessens the gore factor) and how it should play, D1 was still a bit hit, though Warcraft 2 kept that particular franchise as Blizzard's biggest. They came out with Starcraft and Diablo 2, but what really put Blizzard into the full-on mainstream was WoW.
Honestly, people herald "the Diablo franchise" as this shining jewel...but WoW will always have been a bigger success than Diablo, no matter what D3 looked like. And Diablo, despite getting a big amount of hype, is still way more of an underground success than a mainstream one. Mainstream Blizzard fans play WoW. Gamers are supposed to play Diablo.
Thing is, even though the core idea of being an action-packed dungeon crawl/loot hunt being largely the same, people who are too nostalgic give in to the ANTI-hype exacerbated by people who think stat point allocation and skill trees and 12 year old ideas of violence are what make Diablo what it "should" be.
Of course, the hypocritical part is that those same people who are "nostalgic" for D2 style gameplay are usually the biggest AH addicts in the community. They long for the days when their friends could power-level them to greatness, and they could farm the same bosses over and over for the best gear. Now, D3 forces them to work for it, and they either learn microeconomics and market value to make the most of their gold farming, they purchase massive gaming rigs and download multiboxing software, or they simply dupe and bot their way to getting banned repeatedly...because putting in the time to level characters and get the best gear the hard way (you know, the old-fashioned way) is just unheard of for them.
As for D3 being Blizzard's "siren song"...trust me...patches are coming, an expansion is coming (at least one, if not more than that), and even if D3's launch was rocky, they're already fixing things to add more to the game. Even if they can't add everything in simple patches, and don't add in "stat point allocation and skill trees," if they're smart, they'll add enough with the expansion to make the game 1) possible to complete fully WITHOUT the Auction House (already is, pretty much), and 2) offer enough avenues for personalization, customization, builds and gear that players are satisfied with how uniquely godly they can make themselves.
“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” -Booker T Washington
Imagine if this game didn't have an AH. When most of us see a high DPS character, first thing we think is, "how much did they pay for that?" If everyone played without the AH, a high DPS character would show how the player crafted, beat the RNG, and made smart equipment choices. It would show how far they've come, not how fast they reached Inferno MP10.