We recently talked to Grinding Gear Games' co-founder Chris Wilson and asked him whether he minds the comparisons between Path of Exile and Diablo and the answer is no way. Quite the contrary, in fact - he finds them to be flattering.
Heck, just launching an ARPG is in itself a call for comparisons to Blizzard's iconic franchise. Whether you love it or hate it, Diablo is widely regarded as the benchmark for hack 'n slash ARPG titles and if you can't at least match it - you might as well not launch it.
Wilson reminded that Path of Exile's development has been heavily influenced by other ARPG titles and that ignoring Diablo's legacy would be foolish, if not impossible. He went on saying that mentioning Diablo in the same sentence with Path of Exile is a compliment of its own and we cannot disagree.
While it's easy to disregard the question as nothing but a petty jab, it actually speaks volumes of how tiny Grinding Gear came to challenge big Blizzard. Doing it at their own game no less, is not something many would dare to contemplate, let alone attempt. Wilson and Co, however, did just that and did way more than just living to tell the tale.
"It’s really cool to have gone from a garage with 3 random kids to a studio which has made a game people compare in that way to such a great game", Wilson added. Naturally, Grinding Gear's team has grown significantly since those days but it's still nowhere near Blizzard levels, which makes Path of Exile's plight even more impressive.
Armed with an uncompromising focus on the development of a quality ARPG and a healthy attitude towards the competition, David took on the Goliath and held its own, carving out a large chunk of the Diablo pie. They're far from done too, as the game's PlayStation 4 version is due sometime in February 2019, and Grinding Gear announced plans to beat Path of Exile: Betrayal's launch record of 188,970 players.
Wilson reminded, however, that for all their similarities, Path of Exile's "hard-core slant" is unique to the game, leading to players calling it Path of Excel. "That’s not something other studios could really afford to do, considering that they’d probably make more money targeting a mainstream audience."
You can find Wilson's full interview here.