The Diablo III PR Nightmare — The Perfect Example of Why Restricting Gamers Sucks!

Diablo III’s launch has been a PR nightmare. A game-breaking bug and the inability to actually play the game are currently within the spotlight. These issues may have simple fixes in the near future, but in the long run…Blizzard will have to live with the choice it made regarding the game’s “nature” because these problems might pop up constantly. Yes, I’m talking about being forced to have a constant Internet connection to actually play the game.

The idea itself is absurd, similar to what DRM has been touting for the past couple of years. You see, I would understand if Diablo III was an online-focused MMORPG similar to World of Warcraft, but it’s not. It may have online features, but it could be (in theory) enjoyed offline too. So to demand fans to log in to Blizzard’s servers constantly while playing the game is dumb. Simple as that. Blizzard stuck with it despite being fully aware that the demand will be high at launch. As usual with any highly-anticipated games with online modes, servers are unstable and bugs are not uncommon. That’s okay for these games though as there’s usually an offline or single-player mode to enjoy as the bugs and server overloads are ironed out. Diablo III, on the other hand, should have an offline experience, too…but that is completely eliminated in favor of requiring a constant Internet connection to play the game and access Blizzard’s premature servers. They rushed it and were not prepared for the demand and consequences.

Let’s be honest here; the only reason why Blizzard has taken this strategy with Diablo III is to minimize piracy, yet ironically…because of their imperfect preparations and constant issues, their choice will lead to the opposite; more gamers will pirate the game as that version is the superior one. It’s similar to DRM games which hackers targeted in order to remove the DRM software and actually have the unofficial version superior. Blizzard should know by now that no matter what they do, you can’t eliminate piracy…ever. So until we have the perfect solution to combat piracy, there are more logical and less demanding methods to keep the official Diablo III version a superior experience, but sadly they chose wrong and they’ll have to live with their PR nightmare until they wise up and remove online-only play entirely. This choice will not maximize profits as Blizzard expects. What’s even more dumb is that Blizzard knows that Diablo III will be highly profitable even if they didn’t have that Internet connection demand in the first place.

I bought a game…why limit me from playing it anytime, any place, anywhere? Some gamers don’t have stable Internet connections. What are they supposed to do if they love Diablo III? I usually don’t promote this type of behavior, but I don’t blame anyone who downloaded a pirated version or hacked the game and its servers for convenience sake. I know it’s a terrible thing to promote, but Blizzard had it coming.

Note that this is the point of view of a non-PC gamer who has not played a Blizzard game ever. I watch from afar, admiring PC gaming for the past few years…but it’s things like this which keep me away. The sad part is that console games may catch the restriction bug in the near future, too. The days of simply inserting a cart or a disc into the slot and playing without worries are coming to an end…and it’s all thanks to companies like Blizzard going overboard with restrictions to run and play.

Update: thanks to Tim, I’m now informed that having an always-online connection in Diablo III is more about controlling and monitoring hacking, cheating and all sorts of illegal activity when it comes to co-op…which has plagued Diablo II to this very day. That being said, preventing piracy is also one of their main goals with this tactic according to Blizzard. I commend them for trying to keep a clean community, but being always logged in online even if you’re playing solo still isn’t the most optimal way to monitor things. They could’ve came up with much better alternatives.

37 thoughts on “The Diablo III PR Nightmare — The Perfect Example of Why Restricting Gamers Sucks!”

  1. No no no man you don’t understand. It has A LOT more to do than “piracy” and what plagued Diablo 2 like no tomorrow. My friends and I were NOT going to play Diablo 3 if the chars were not stored on the server. This will stop all the stupid cheaters and hacked items THAT destroyed gamers exp in the older games of the series. Unless you were there, you really don’t understand how bad it was.

    We (and others people too) quit playing Diablo 2 because of it, and I support the way Blizzard is handling Diablo 3. Yes, not having the option to play offline does suck, but I rather not have my over all exp of the game ruined by ***holes and cheaters! In the past, Blizzard really did not go much to counter this, and why should they. Online features were (and still are) free, and all the mods/hacks and other BS pissed off a lot of folks man.

    You can’t have it all sometimes, and everything is pretty much online with PC gaming now man. If you don’t like it, go back to the consoles! WHICH will be joining the ways of the PC soon enough /grin

    1. But isn’t Diablo supposed to be a single-player game? How could other players, cheaters, and hackers interfere with your own progress?

      Either way man, there should be more effective and less demanding methods than having a single-player game demanding a constant Internet connection 24/7. There has to be others ways to keep hackers away like patches or whatever. Or having a functional OFFLINE mode like normal games do. 24/7 Internet while playing a single-player game is still the wrong way to approach things. Not all of us have perfect Internet providers you know. If my ISP disconnects me while playing a single-player game which is supposed to be an offline experience, why is that my fault? If Blizzard’s maintaining servers, why is it my fault that I get kicked out of a single-player game? I don’t mind a single login or something, but always on Internet with servers actually ruins the experience more than expected. Again, I don’t mind that for games with heavy online components like FPS multiplayer or MMORPGs, but for single-player games? It’s just a stupid concept to begin with. There’s a server bug that just popped up now that prevents players from getting the end game items and loot by defeating the final boss. What kind of game does that? And breaking your save and logging out just because you equipped a certain item on a certain class? Glad I’m not a PC gamer.

      Quite frankly, looks to me like it’s Blizzard’s fault for mismanaging Diablo II and not doing enough to keep hackers away back then. And now with Diablo III, they basically put a target on their own game by having 24/7 Internet. Gamers and hackers who are pissed off will find away around their restrictions, and it’ll be Diablo II all over again if they’re not careful. They should at least have the servers stable and ready, but I do agree with you that not everything can be perfect to begin with.

  2. Diablo series has been a multi-player online Co Op game (never a single-player game). You’re thinking Diablo is a single player game, but it’s always been an online co-op game. Who told you those lies?!? There are items you can not get if you don’t play online, and the best rewards too. Like I said, your lack of exp with the series is showing here ;)

  3. Ahmed, you’re going into a circle if you’re trying to argue with Tim here. He forgot to take his PC pyjamas years ago. He doesn’t respond to common sense….

  4. But seriously…. this kinda sucks. Because for those hardcore gamers who absolutely don’t want cheaters and hackers, then they have there wish. But for everyone else…. I guess enjoying the game will rely on their internet connection/server function. Which really sucks. This game in my opinion is aimed more towards multiplayer coop/competion, but it is also fully playable single player. To put restrictions in order to prevent cheating just proves that Blizzard doesn’t know how to prevent such things.

  5. As a legit and cheater player I can say this is no way to start the launch of the game. However it being online will stop me from just joining a game quick killing someone and leaving with half thier gold. Better experience once the bugs are out for legit players

  6. I agree with Tim here 100%. I’ll take the buggy launch and constant online over unfair play and hacks any day. This is how good these games are and how good Blizzard’s patching and commitment to a game is. D2 and D3 are made as co-op games from the start and that comes straight from the dev. Understand that unlike most fps D3’s multiplayer is its single player and vice versa. If there were an online and offline mode it turns into two games to manage. It’s a different code for each game with different bugs. In D2 hackers would constantly hack the offline version and exploit, write in the items they wanted and somehow transfer items from sp into mp. Blizzard could never completely fix it and they tried. Maybe they could have tried harder but the code of both games was to easily cracked even after years of patches.

    Now, WoW and sc2 don’t suffer from this hacking because they are constantly online. Actually, they still get hacked but its much harder and happens rarely. When it does happen they eventually catch the accounts that do and ban them, they track down who benefited from the hack and take the illegally gained items and remove them from the game. If you were innocently traded said items they give you the money you paid for it back. They can do this because they have records and they have records because its constantly online. In the spirit of fair play, I think its good. They have to do this because people are so passionate about their games and a lot of effort has to be put into having a level playing field and fighting hackers.

    The community makes Blizzard games and this is no exception, this is the future, if you don’t like it don’t play it. You all are doing a fine job at that, while not listening to the guy who did and still plays these games. Seriously, you’re missing out.

  7. i know and wrote in the article that it has online features like co-op, but I always heard and read from comments is that it can be enjoyed solo as well. I saw people playing the beta solo too. That’s why it didn’t make sense to me that solo play is also restricted from being online all the time. But now I realize from Tim that co-op is the more enjoyable and preferrred experience. Nonetheless, having it always online will not allow players the option to play solo comfortably, but for multiplayer it’s a given and I have no problems with it. Regular games have solo play an offline experience, so I just wrap my head around demanding an online connection when playing alone. In theory, this makes you a target to foul play, server bugs, and cheaters even if you didn’t mean to be online.

    As for PvP, if they’re a problem then restrict the mode. Let players choose if they want it or not. Let players filter online co-op by power level or story progress of your buddies. I could go on with endless possibilities here. Again though, online servers for online play is logical and reasonable, but solo players shouldn’t be within that realm too.

    Just to note that I’m not talking out of my butt here; the complaints are everywhere even with hardcore fans and people who have bought the game. Blizzard made a bad choice and they couldn’t step up with their servers at launch obviously. Again, this wouldn’t be a problem if only multiplayer was affected as no game has a perfect server free of bugs at launch, but single-player is caught into question too hence the complaints.

  8. What I think this is, is you guys are trying to justify your choices of not playing PC games and sticking to consoles by picking on a game y’all don’t know much about, but is intriguing you ;) Like consoles is the superior choice so you are right to stay away and that you are smarter/better looking/better smelling because of it ;) They are both different and great.

    D3 is not a game people will be playing for hours but for years with the patches, add an expansion pack and make it decades. So I don’t mind waiting a day or two to play :) For 60$, that’s not to shabby.

    P.S. To add on the constantly online is the future thing, don’t be grumpy old men clamouring for the days of old where you could still play “offline”, your kids won’t know what your talking about btw!

  9. @Marc nice ways of putting what Tim failed to convey. I guess when you put it that way, Blizzard’s priority is a good community even if it has some bugs in it. It’s just hard for me to wrap my head around having a constant online connection when playing solo. Isn’t there any better methods to control players than that because it’s a hinderance to players.

    1. Blizzard is in it to make money, they did and i’m sure are still doing a cost/benefit analysis for the always online thing and to them it doesn’t add up any more. The cost of maintaining an offline and lan sp/mp is simply greater than the reward. If the fans care about it that much they won’t buy the game, thus hurting Blizzards bottom line and then might come an offline mode for D3 and lan for sc2. :)

  10. Bugs with a brand new PC game?!?! That NEVER happens now does it ;)

    “What I think this is, is you guys are trying to justify your choices of not playing PC games and sticking to consoles by picking on a game y’all don’t know much about, but is intriguing you”

    I could not agree anymore here with ya, Marc. Yeah PC gaming is for the real gamers, let the babies stay on their consoles systems /grin

  11. For real Ahmed, you would had a field day with all the problems WoW had at launch. You need to give Blizzard a few days to iron everything out, and their servers will be up 99.9% of the time (well 12 years ago bnet was kinda of laggy and issues…but it’s way different now). The internet connections are 1000 times better, and more modern tech behind the scenes.

    Anyway, just give Blizzard time and they will fix the issues in the near future. These are things us PC gamers are used to if you want to play games on the computer. You console folks are soo unforgiving haha

    1. Like I said and admitted many times before man, even bugs on console games with online components at launch is okay. It always happens so I’m okay with that. What I’m not okay with is restricting access to people who want to play solo just because it’s mandatory to go online when playing alone. This is almost unheard of, even in PC games with single-player components. If I want to play alone, why should I always be logged in online…and why do I have to login in the first place? If this problem was only to Diablo III’s multiplayer, then it’s okay because like I said no game has a perfect online launch. But when it comes to single-player there shouldn’t be any problems at all….hence Blizzard screwing up.

      There is a BIG difference between WOW and Diablo III so you can’t compare the two. WOW is a MMORPG which needs to be online, but Diablo III is a dungeon-crawler Action/RPG which has some nice co-op components but can be played solo, too. So if I want to play solo, I shouldn’t be online all the time.

  12. Hey, if you guys say this will be fixed soon, then I believe you! As for not playing PC games, its always been a matter of the ridiculous price it would cost to purchase and maintain a high end PC.

  13. Maybe they could allow people to play single player but then you wouldnt be able to play online at all. But like mal said, maybe blizzard thinks this isnt profitable.

  14. I wish all of our articles had this kind of traffic. Excellent job Ahmed, serious. Getting people to discuss with such passion is amazing.

    When I originally played Diablo it was a single player experience. At the time I was really into PC gaming, used to even build my own rigs. I couldn’t play online though as I had no way of connecting with other players back in 1996, at least not for gaming purposes. When D2 hit the scene though, I was online from day one because of how much fun it I to play with others. That said, my experience was destroyed very early on thanks to buttholes on public servers, so I switched to private servers where only friends would meet up. I know it limited the game’s scope, but I am not the type of gamer who can dedicate 4 years to a single title. It’s why I never play MMOs, I just don’t have the time to invest. Right now I can’t even play D3 because my computer is too weak, and that just sucks. :(

    As for this debate over should there be an offline version, etc. That’s obviously a hard one to answer. One side says, sure, because if I want to play on the airplane while going away on a business trip and then take that character online later on, shouldn’t I be allowed to do so? I know with D2 you had to have two separate accounts if I recall correctly, but since I had a server-based character I was good to go. The flip-side is that 90% of the players will be online anyways, and because of all the problems with D2, and other games like it with the hacks, cheaters, etc, it makes sense for Blizzard to do what they’ve done. Bottom line is, I don’t think there’s an easy way out here. You have to do what you feel is best for those that are playing the game, and if the vast majority are going to be online then I suppose that’s all there is to it.

    As for the whole PC vs. console thing, I’ve always hated arguing for or against either. Of all of us, I think I started PC gaming before anyone, outside the old man here. That would be you Tim. I played all the classic DOS games like Leisure suit Larry, Commander Keen, Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, King’s Quest, Wasteland, etc. I vividly remember Warcraft: Orcs and Humans hitting the scene in 1994 and blowing everyone away. Back then you didn’t need a powerful rig to get these games running. That changed during the late nineties with the advent of true 3D gaming. Everyone remembers when Half-Life hit, it required some killer hardware for the time. Fast forward to today and it still requires dedication. A strong PC will only set you back a few hundred, unless you want a beast, or a Mac. The thing is that you must update it within two to three years or you’ll start experiencing issues. It comes with the territory.

    Consoles have always been mainstream because, like I’ve told Tim countless times, it’s because they’re so easy to use. Plug it into the TV, insert game, press power. I still remember visiting a friend’s house and his parents not understanding how to install Wolfenstein on his computer. I was O_O, but it makes sense. Most people think of computers as tools to get work done, or look at porn…I mean cruise the net. They don’t realize the sheer power behind the screen. So that’s where consoles come in. Saying one is better or worse than the other is completely foolish, which is why I agree with Mal’s statement that they’re both different and great in their own way. You’ll never hear me say one is better than the other, unless I’m talking directly to someone I know because of their situation. If someone is less interested in gaming on a computer screen, and wants to game sitting on the coach with a 52″ 1080p 3D HDTV, am I going to tell this person yes PC gaming is for them? Sure they could build an HTPC, but honestly, not many people do that. If the next person I talk to says they want the absolute best looking games out there, doesn’t mind sitting on the couch, loves online gaming, etc, I’d tell them the PC offers everything they could imagine and more.

    At the end of the day I consider myself a gamer, period. I will admit that I haven’t had a powerful computer in some time, but that’s more to do with me spending my money foolishly than anything else. I also don’t invest thousands of hours into a single game, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be enjoying the crap out of Diablo III right now if I had a strong enough computer, because I would. Sadly it looks like I won’t be playing it until later this year when I see a worthy computer upgrade.

    Ok so I’ve gone on forever here. There is no right way to fix this issue, console gamers and PC gamers need to relax, and realize that gaming in general is awesome. One is not better than the other, and that as they say, is that.

  15. Very informative post, Jarrod. Good stuff. I never meant to strike a PC vs. console argument. In fact, in the original post I said that I’ve admired PC gaming, particularly in the past couple of years because they’ve gotten a lot more mainstream and powerful. But it’s stuff like DRM and online always connectivity which keeps me away. I just can’t wrap my head around being restricted from solo play just because I can’t log in online, MMOs being an exception. It’s just too weird for me to get around. I hope no games ever adapt that style of play. I understand the need for it to be done considering D2 had hackers but still…seems like a hinderance to me, you know. There has to be alternate methods to restrict pirates.

  16. First if ANY of you ever played a Blizzard game (on the PC) you DO NOT need a high end system haha and that’s an excuse I hear by a lot of people. Most of the time you do not need a high end PC to run the games. They have many different settings, and will run on a lot of different systems too (as long as your system is not too old etc). Most PC’s are sold ready to play games without issues anymore too.

    Not like the old days and It’s funny hearing how “much” it costs to be a PC gamer. Most of us here spend a shit load more on their console content and system than they would on the PC side of things LOL

    Very good post Jarrod :)

  17. Certainly Blizzard is the except though Tim, and you can admit that. If you want to game on your PC, you need a fairly robust system. FPS and other games are fairly taxing. Check out the min tech specs for D3 on a Mac:

    Intel® Core 2 Duo
    NVIDIA® GeForce® 8600M GT or ATI Radeon™ HD 2600 or better
    2 GB RAM
    12 GB available HD space

    That’s unfair, because that means your computer cannot be less than three years old or you will not be able to run the game. The PC side isn’t as bad though, and if you head to TigerDirect ( $800 CDN can build you a monster. You don’t need anything nearly that strong for D3, but for shooters you really do if you want to really get the most out of them.

  18. Yeah with shooters you need a good system but people can’t use cost here. Look at all the games most of us buy no? Remember, the PC side you don’t get that many game titles to play. It balances out in terms of cost I think. And when the PS3 was over $600 bucks LOL Tell me that’s not too far away from a good PC system HAHAHAH

  19. Like I said, I admire the PC gaming scene now because of its power, but this always on solo play connection and DRM related stuff…it’s upsetting considering that not all ISPs give perfect internet connections. People have the right to be upset…though Metacritic at times overdoes it with highly negative reviews. You can fault the always on problem, but the game itself shouldn’t be entirely trashed. When it comes to good PC specs at low costs, there are some excellent deals and prices out there…which is why I’m considering a desktop at some point.

  20. The only thing preventing me from running this game is my crappy on-board video. You get what you pay for when you buy a budget PC, sadly.

    I think, whether we like it or not, all games in the future are going to require a constant on-line connection and also activation before you can play, even for console gamers. This means one game per one system… no more used games, rentals or even borrowing from someone.

  21. Tim, I`ve heard that speach a dozens time before. I tried running Red Alert 2, a really old game, on my old laptop a few years back and it wouldnt work. Yet apparently, it should have been easy. I could maybe run Diablo 3 on this…. although I really doubt I`d have good performance.

    One thing about PC games however, especially Blizzard games, there meant to be played for years and years. So there`s tons of value for your buck thats for sure.

  22. You are right, Steven. PC games are meant to be played for years and years. I played EQ for at least 3 if I remember right, and then WoW for 7 to 8 years, and I will start again with the new expan soon.

    Diablo 2 and Warcraft III both for a few years as well :) That’s what I love about PC gaming my friends. Long term value for your money. There are a few console games that can do the same, but VERY VERY rare titles tho. You really can’t compare the two really

  23. PC gaming may seem expensive but see how I look at it. Nowadays ppl have to buy a pc or mac to do things like surf the porn… I mean net and email and whatever else. A desktop or laptop to do this will run you at 400- 500 bucks. You NEED this no matter what right? And that would run d3 right now no problem. Now the computer Jarrod linked above is a beast and is 800$. That’s a 300$ investment on top of what you already have to have to get a good rig. That’s 300$ cheaper than the original ps3 for a gaming rig that will last 3 yearsish. At witch point you can buy a few replacement parts for 200-300$ to keep it up to date :) AND the extra boost in performance will make all the things you do on it better and faster.

  24. Well having played D3 for the past two days to be honest if people
    didn’t expect problems with servers even if we all hoped it would be honky dory @ launch, I must say I’m having a blast.
    I’ve played probly 20+ hours have a demon hunter lvl 44 on nightmare act 2.

    The game is 99.9% problem free during the day but when 5 pm estern time and 5pm pst its starts to bot up because a small country finished work and want to play. People are so excited to play they don’t realise how blizzard are probly on this 24/7 to fix it up for so many people. Don’t get me wrong its frustrating as hell when u get disconnect or can’t log on error 37 lol but people
    who know pc gaming especially when it comes to blizzard within a week if even that things run smoother. Even today @ 5pm est & 5pm pst things didn’t loose connection to bnet or have a 3 hours server maintenance which meens they are on the right track.

    Yes 20+ hours is almost a full day of playing in two days my days off timed perfectly lol but this version of D3 is amazing been playing 4 people since launch day and nightmare is being a pain in the butt and it only gets worse (in a good way).

    To be honest aswell these maintenance issues are great for people who played alot gives them time to realise they need to sleep and not just play lol for me anyways :p

    1. Send me you email or tag name via facebook Mal so i can see when you are on :)!!! Just finished up nightmare tonight!!!

  25. If I had the cash on hand to maintain and buy games for a beastly PC AND three home consoles plus two portables (and my retro gaming) then I would be soooo into PC gaming. It’s just a matter of cash and time for me because although I love PC gaming when I have the opportunity, cash flow was the obvious issue while I was a student and will be again when I return to school this year. Need to buy a vehicle when I get back as well so I guess I won’t be on the cutting edge as much as I’d like to be.

    As for Diablo 3’s current situation, yeah, that sucks. It should be fixed soon, though. What sucks more is that it’s been almost half a year since Skyrim was released on PS3 and people are still experiencing slowdown that ranges from irritating to game breaking. I’ve been alright so far (about 54 hours in) with only a bit of messy frame rate chug-a-lug in the Whiterun area, but seriously, I don’t understand how these issues were possibly overlooked. Bethesda said they anticipated some “minor” issues for PS3 players but it’s hard to believe they didn’t have a better idea of the extent of the issue. This is one game I would have snagged on PC as I did with Oblivion if I’d had the chance.

    1. With the right hardware you wouldn’t believe how incredible Skyrim looks on PC Charles. It’s sick!

      I’m hoping to have the funds necessary for my upgrade in mid-June if all goes according to plan.

  26. I’m looking at that animal of a computer you linked to on Tiger Direct, Jarrod. If I end up getting a sick beast like that, a Wii U, an NA 3DS, and all the other game-related things I really want when I get back I’ll have to end up buying a scooter instead of a car lol

  27. And wow, Jarrod, no kidding about the Mac system requirements… my Macbook is from 2008 and doesn’t even meet the minimum requirements.

    1. Yeah Charles I have no idea why the Mac requirements are so much higher than the PC requirements, but c’est la vie. I’m looking to upgrade in mid-June so hopefully I’ll finally get my hands on the game at that time.

  28. If I may jump into this a little late: the cheating that occurred in the online co-op play in the first two Diablo games was the result of item duplication that was, if I remember correctly, performed by exploiting weaknesses in the ties between single player and multiplayer modes.

    Whether I remember correctly or not, there is a bigger issue that most of the gaming community seems to be ignoring with regards to the DIII always-online issue. The real money auction house. With actual honest-to-God money transactions on the line, they cannot in any way afford to have item duplication occuring. (Regardless of how it might happen.) There is no other way to be sure of this than to have all character data stored on the servers.

    I don’t generally approve of a single-player game requiring a constant online presence, but Diablo is a worthy exception. There are advantages to this, too. I can see a real ID friend on WoW or StarCraft II and chat with them or get them to switch games and join me. If I were back home in Alaska, I could go to my best friend’s house and send the forces of Hell back where they came from on his wife’s computer while she’s off doing something else.

    Blizzard made a huge blunder by not being prepared for the launch, though. They knew how many people signed up for the annual pass for WoW to get a copy of DIII at launch. They knew how many preorders there were. They knew how many people had downloaded the installer ahead of time. They know they have a loyal fan base who will buy anything they put out. They should have been prepared.

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