Whenever a new game comes out, especially from a genre as beloved but also as most often misunderstood as action role-playing games, there is concern about how new players can take to it. Those already familiar and are fans of that genre should have no problem, but developers and publishers always seem to always have concern for those who are new to the genre. Learning curve and sophistication are elements of gameplay that have always teetered against each other in the design side of things in game development.
Never mind that most people should be able to pick up games anyway in time. It's often perceived by a lot of developers that the gameplay should be as uncomplicated as possible from the ground up. However, there have been designers and developers in recent years that have gone the opposite route. Such games include Path of Exile, which has taken the action role-playing game genre to a new direction that has shown both positive and negative effects.
Grinding Gear Games set out to create a game that paid homage to its predecessors while ushering a new age for the ARPG genre with innovations and whole new ways of playing, and they've done so fairly well for the most part. When new players look at the passive skill tree, they're intimidated by the sheer volume. Of course, it's simple once the concept is understood, it's no longer intimidating and players get used to it. But it's that intimidating appearance that a lot of developers and publishers don't want, but that didn't stop Grinding Gear Games.
However, there have also been things that they've fallen short on. Being a free-to-play game, it's not easy for Grinding Gear Games to keep things afloat, especially with their chosen business model. The selling of ethical microtransactions that don't include any sort of pay-to-win Path of Exile items is understandable and that stance is indeed admirable, but it has also taken some precedence over the rest of the development for the game. There have been complaints by players recently over how content updates and microtransactions have taken priority over getting flaws in the game fixed.
But then again, fixing flaws in a game like this especially on the PoE items part, is far from easy due to not wanting to break something else along the way. With a game as intricate as Path of Exile, it's not as simple as fixing the thing that's wrong, implementing it, and then patting yourself on the back for a job well done. When it's done that way, you'll find out later that two or more things have gone wrong while you were congratulating yourself. Fixing the broken parts and improving on sub-par ones in a game like this takes planning and careful consideration for all the other parts in such an intricate system.
Of course, with such a hardcore approach, there's a hardcore audience that's fickle and hard to please. Only the best can satiate these fans, so the developers have to balance their approach between wanting to please and fulfilling their vision for the game. It takes a hardcore work ethic to maintain a hardcore game like this.