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.