Ever since Diablo Immortal launched amid a storm of controversy last week, people have been trying to work out how much it really costs to play this theoretically free game. I'll be honest that maths has never been my strongest suit, but figuring out how games work under-the-hood is one of my favourite things to do. So I've spent most of this week chasing answers, and I've come up with a ballpark estimate of what it would cost to max out your character. The answer is: £46,000, or $51,000, to fully equip your character with the best gear as quickly as possible using premium currencies.
I'm not claiming that the figure I mention above is definitive. Diablo Immortal, like most F2P games, deliberately obscures real costs in a number of ways, including giving their premium currencies a variable real-world value based on how much money you put in at a time. Bolster your character's loadout with the (unusually stingy) amount of free stuff this game gives you and you might save a little on that amount. Buy your premium currencies in smaller incremental bundles, however, and your costs could balloon even further than that already shocking number.
Even compared to a game like Genshin Impact, which on the surface has a very similar monetisation strategy, it turns out that Diablo Immortal is amazingly unwilling to even give you half-decent goodies unless you're willing to pay through the nose. Strategies like limiting F2P players' ability to redeem premium items (a.k.a. loot boxes) to just one per month, and creating a heightened sense of artificial scarcity with PvP endgame goals tracked via leaderboards, are also in play to encourage you to open up your wallet if you want to stay ahead.
It's probably obvious by now that my views on Diablo Immortal's premium features are far from positive. One thing I really dislike, though, is when a news outlet drops a big scary number like that on you and then refuses to show you their workings. That's why I've written a full breakdown of the costs of playing Diablo Immortal, including how the running costs would likely look from a player's perspective. You can read the full explanation here.