By I-Hsien Sherwood | ( | First Posted: Dec 30, 2012 09:49 AM EST

Visitors play "Diablo" during the Gamescom 2012 fair in Cologne August 16, 2012. (Photo : Reuters)

The long-awaited Diablo 3 Team Deathmatch PvP mode has been indefinitely delayed, according to the game's developer Blizzard.

Diablo III released in May without a feature allowing players to battle each other. Blizzard promised a future update would allow not only duels between characters, but a team deathmatch system, where groups of players could compete against each other in an arena-like setting.

But the system has been put off several times, and this delay could be final. "We are going back to the drawing board on a new replacement for Team Deathmatch, something that feels more appropriate for Diablo III," said Jay Wilson, game director for Diablo III.

Wilson cited playtesters' responses for the decision. "Simply fighting each other with no other objectives or choices to make gets old relatively quickly.  We've brought a lot of people in to try out Team Deathmatch and, while some found it entertaining, most of our testers didn't feel like it was something they'd want to do beyond a few hours," said Wilson.

"We want to be able to carry over as many of the crazy runes, items, and skills as possible, with their crazy effects, and alter them as little as possible. In a casual PvP mode, something equivalent to a WoW Battleground, this would be fine, but Team Deathmatch felt very hardcore, and it put a laser focus on class balance in a way that we didn't think would be good for the game as a whole," Wilson added.

Balancing story modes and player-versus-player options are often a difficult issue for game designers.

In most games, players are expected to be able to defeat hordes of enemies before being killed or worn down. This means the player is relatively powerful compared to an individual enemy. Players do much more damage than most enemies, but resilience isn't necessarily as skewed, since players have options to heal wounds or regain resources that computer-controlled enemies don't usually have.

Pitting two or more players against each other often becomes a game of "rocket tag," where the first player to score a good hit wins, since both players are doing large amounts of damage more suited toward defeating many weaker enemies.

On the flip side, games where players are more resilient become boring in deathmatches, since fights between players take too long to resolve, since offense doesn't stack up well against defense.

Still, Wilson says a dueling mode will be released with the next patch, 1.07, which should be out early in 2012. Players will be able to fight each other in-game, though the experience will be a relatively minor part of the overall game experience, and there won't be areas set aside for exclusive PvP combat.

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