In an article posted on Battle.net, Blizzard talks about its Diablo 3 character-nerfing philosophy, discusses a couple of upcoming patches and shares with us some interesting facts regarding Diablo 3. Interestingly, the blog-style post follows a hastily deployed hotfix which took the bite out of certain skills -- abilities which some players discovered to be curiously powerful.
First, some quick stats about Diablo 3: According to the Blizzard's data, players, on average, have three characters each. About 1.9 percent of those characters have managed to unlock the "Inferno" difficulty -- this difficulty is one step beyond Hell which has traditionally been the most challenging mode in Diablo. Additionally, 80 percent of the heroes in Sanctuary are under level 30 and the vast majority of hardcore character deaths (35 percent) occur in Act 1 on Normal difficulty.
Additionally, Blizzard seems proud of D3's character diversity. "The most common level 60 build in the game is only used by 0.7% of level 60 characters of that class" the company touts.
For level 60 characters, the most widely used runes are Best Served Cold (Barbarian), Lingering Fog (Demon Hunter), Mirror Skin (Wizard), Peaceful Repose (Monk) and Numbing Dart (Witch Doctor). "If any single skill or rune feels absolutely required to progress, it means that skill is working against our goal of encouraging build diversity -- and those 'required' skills need to be corrected." the post goes on to assure players.
As far as balancing in Diablo 3 is concerned, Blizzard says plainly that it doesn't want players to be afraid of weekly nerfing. The game developer claims it will attempt to resolve future balance issues in a more thoughtful and measured manner than in past times, avoiding the dreaded nerf cannon whenever possible. Blizzard admits the game is new though and it expects to iron out substantial balance issues as the game matures.
If a skill is strong, but isn't really breaking the game, we want you to have your fun. Part of the enjoyment of Diablo is finding those super-strong builds, and we want players to be excited to use something they discovered that feels overpowered. A good example of this is the monk Overawe rune, which many players have identified as being quite good. We agree it's good, but we don't think it's so far out of line that we're going to swoop in and hotfix it out of existence.
Blizzard also mentions that it is keeping a close eye on Inferno difficulty. It wants every class to be viable and every skill to be useful, even in the hardest of content. However, the company admits Inferno difficulty doesn't quite "feel right" yet. Blizzard also wants to make sure that unique enemies, champion packs and boss fights continue being the best way to get decent loot worth your while. All of these things, the post says, will be addressed in upcoming patches.
Future patches will also feature improvements for the blacksmith/crafting system, PVP and "straight-out buffing" to legendary items. You can read more here.