Diablo III

  By Shamus   Aug 1, 2011   388 comments

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So the news this morning is that Diablo III will have no modding whatsoever, it will be online-only, and it will have an integrated auction house where people can buy and sell in-game items for real cash money. I never played around with mods in the previous Diablo games, and I never dabbled in trading items with strangers, so I will leave it to others to comment on those features. Let’s talk about this “online-only” thing…

The rationale:

One of the things that we felt was really important was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto Battle.net. But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online.

Explanation: In Diablo II, you could make a character online or offline. Your offline, single-player games were mediated by your own PC, and thus susceptible to cheating. You could make yourself max level, give yourself the best possible items, or whatever else you wanted to do. Since the online game was all about balance and item finding, you couldn’t ever let those possibly-cheated offline characters into the online world, or they would flood the in-game economy with bogus items, overpowered characters, and infinite gold. Just imagine what would happen to the World of Warcraft auction house if people could cheat, and that should give you a good idea of why single-player and multi-player characters needed to have a wall between them.

Their reasoning for the feature makes me more angry that the feature itself. (Or rather, the lack of feature. Whatever we want to call his hole where offline single-player mode should be.) This boils down to, “Sometimes some people make bad choices so we have taken away the ability for anyone to make any choice.” So, because some people wish they could take their single-player character online, nobody is ever allowed to play offline ever again? Apparently you are too stupid to make choices about how you want to play the game. As a bonus: The server will be mediating the game, so single-player Diablo III gamers will be able to experience the fun and excitement of lag death and disconnects.

And at this point in the conversation, everyone begins looking for ulterior motives: Oh, they don’t really care about the online / offline problem, they just want to kill second-hand sales. Or perhaps: This is just DRM disguised as a feature. Those are likely, although we can’t know their motives for sure. But no matter what their intent is, the policy / feature announcement is still offensive. It’s either a lie, an insult, or both.

I’ve lost interest in the game. They did this with Starcraft 2, and it was depressing. (The game was gifted to me. I didn’t buy it. I deliberately didn’t review it here because that’s the closest I can come to giving Blizzard the silent treatment.) It was ridiculous having to log in when I wanted to play the single-player game. Even worse that it didn’t save my password, so I had to type it in every time.

Is this the future of PC gaming? I really thought Ubisoft’s always-on DRM would crash and burn. It was so manifestly horrible that it annoyed and frustrated the people who usually ignore the principles behind DRM. But Ubisoft is still making PC games, and still pushing the always-online DRM. They’re even celebrating this base aggression against their customers as a success.

Over the past few years, I hopefully waited for PC gamers to draw the line, somewhere. Okay, they accepted Steam. Then they accepted something like Steam, except stupid and horrible and broken. They accepted Steam, plus third-party activation. They accepted install limits. They accepted having bits of the game locked away behind day-one DLC. Now they’re accepting a setup with all of the restrictions of Steam, none of the convenience, and the additional requirement that they remain always online.

Will the public ever draw a line? I doubt it. They’ve already given everything away on principles. No ownership, no control, no resale rights, no right to return if the game fails to run, no right to install and uninstall at will. From here, further abuse will simply be a matter of degree. Things might get less convenient, but it’s pretty hard for the community to rally around incrementally more restrictive systems. Oh, an install limit of five was okay, but four? NOW YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR, SIR! Individuals might get mad, flee the PC, or switch to piracy, but these protests will never be large enough to really register with the publisher. People got mad at Spore back in the day, but the Spore-style DRM has persisted with little additional fuss, and most people remember Spore as “This game that was disappointingly dull” and not, “The game with the offensive DRM.”

This story about Diablo III isn’t really anything unqiely horrible. It’s just another sad, stupid waste, another punishment heaped on the people who pay for games in a misguided attempt to do… something. I just wanted to nod and say, “Yes. I see it.”


A Hundred!A Hundred!A Hundred!202020208There are now 388 comments. My website weeps for mercy.


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  1. SimeSublime says:

    Well, you just killed any remaining interest I had in this game. Thanks for making up my mind, and saving me whatever ridiculous fee they would charge for the game.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      Agreed. I was interested for a while, but not anymore. Blizzard used to be my favorite dev-house. Now it seems like just another out-house for EA.
      In my mind, the future of PC gaming isn’t in the big developers. It’s in the independent developers, the ones like 2d Boy and Introversion. If the “mainstream” wants to swallow the DRM and the in-game marketing, fine. No use mourning that “X is ruining PC gaming” because it’s not. The innovation (read “life”) has just moved elsewhere, leaving the big studios to rot.

    • Florin-Vlad says:

      i don’t think they are going to charge for it like they do with World of Warcraft.

      As Shamus mentioned the in-game Auction House is going to take care of the “fee”, let’s call it “shiny pixel fee”. In all other regards the game is going to be free except for the retail price.

      • Kana says:

        Can I just take a moment to put on my tin-foil hat and point something out? Isn’t this the exact kind of thing Blizzard would want to appear like to all the loyalist PC gamers? Blizzard gets to stay the dev team who can do no harm, ever, and any bad decision instantly get’s labeled on Activision. “No, we would never do that guys, it was all Acti, they wanted this horrible system.”

        I don’t buy it. Ever since the merge Blizzard has always gone on about how Activision stays out of their hair and has never forced them to do anything, but every bad decision still lays the hate on Activision, not Blizzard. That doesn’t fly with me, not anymore. You want us to believe you aren’t influenced by Activision, Blizzard, than you need to not do stupid stuff like this. I want to know what happened to the developer I used to love and swear by, and how we can protest this. I’m not buying D3, and will write as much as I can in protest.

        Slightly off-topic, but directed to Florin-Vlad:
        The price is by no means what it has on the box. Shamus covered the Always-On crap of Diablo 3, but there is still an entire problem with that online thing. Mainly Blizzard has basically sanctioned gold selling and item selling for real world money, as long as Blizzard gets a cut from it. It’s not looking like a pretty game so far.

        • Florin-Vlad says:

          Well the always online thing totally destroys this for me, i don’t have an internet connection capable of sustaining an online game, so that pre-order is out the window.

          I will probably download it off torrents and play the single player campaign, if that’s not possible then that’s that with D3…

  2. I think the problem is most people just buy the game, then realize the DRM is there – they don’t do the research beforehand and the game still sells, or they go “well how bad could it be – I really want this game”. not to mention, all the new gamers coming in have no idea if this is good, bad, standard or not, so the new markets – incidentally the ones game developers are increasingly trying to target their games toward – just go “well, I guess that’s how games work”.

    So even if they lose out one customer who can’t stand the DRM, they gain 10 customers who don’t know better. It’s a natural result of pushing a trend in a growth market like this. Unfortunately, I don’t see a solution to this unless DRM-free games start doing legitimately better than DRM based ones, at least on the PC, and the thing is, they should be, but PC games are by and large limited to indies who don’t get the same sales figures, or report 90% piracy rates anyway, or they’re Minecraft, which hasn’t talked about DRM or piracy (though, it does do a server check so it’s not like it’s totally DRM free anyway).

    That leaves us with basically GoG, and that caters exclusively to us 1 in 10 anyway. And we love it for that, but it doesn’t have the new entrant appeal of practically anywhere else – it’s perceived as being on the back end of the progress curve by definition (well, it’s games are anyway), so nobody’s looking at it for trends.

    So the answer is we basically need more big budget titles like the Witcher 2 (is it really considered mainstream though?) selling without DRM, otherwise the trend will keep going as it is.

    And that doesn’t even start us on how to get retailers to let us return games or run screaming away from pirates who wouldn’t buy the games anyway.

    Final thought: Ubisoft says piracy is down, but are sales up? They can’t say of course, because a) they don’t have numbers on pirates and b)they haven’t released the same game with and without DRM to compare the results. It’s not rocket science people – two different games are going to sell different amounts and be pirated different amounts, you can’t make that claim without, say, putting DRM on one region and not another, but even then, both are going to be cracked, so more accurately, you can’t make that claim.

    • psivamp says:

      It’s true that the stats aren’t rigorously accurate, but they’re operating off of some kind of projection. They applied this to one of the Need for Speed games, didn’t they? I would assume that they can give a ballpark figure for a NFS game without even recalculating. It’s not something you could turn in with a master’s thesis, but if you don’t fall whatever you want to call ‘significantly below’ expectations, then sales are on target. The numbers may be fudged a bit, and the piracy bit is completely made up naturally. It reminds me of today’s xkcd.

      It’s a PR announcement. They’re not arguing for or with us; they’re posturing for the people on the fence who don’t really know what’s going on or why they should care. Those people here this and think, “Sales are up, whatever this DRM is it can’t have hurt the game any because it is still selling.”

    • MadTinkerer says:

      Then there are the people who simply don’t understand the problem at all. Not just the Mom and Dad who just about understand Facebook, but couldn’t install Windows if their life depended on it, but the kid who grew up with the “OMG Halo/MW2/BC2 is teh Best FPS Ever Made! XBox Live Rulez! Man I Wish WoW Was on Xbox! Man I Am Hardcore Gamerzorz!” attitude. In other words, consoletards and those whose parents were smart enough to make sure their kids’ gaming machine could also run a word processor, but the kids know nothing about how the machine actually works.

      If they’re really smart, they might even understand how to download torrents.

      That’s the level of computer-savvy Blizzard expects of their customers. And they’re sadly pretty much on the money. “What’s wrong with requiring you to be online to play? I have high speed internet and wifi. Maybe you need to play more WoW.” Sigh…

      • (LK) says:

        Jumping right into the “this is due to people stupider than me with mental handicaps” argument is the fastest way to quarantine yourself from all the good parts of a meaningful discussion.

        If you’re using portmanteaus of the word “retard” in an earnest attempt to explain a complicated situation, well, you know.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          I see I didn’t make my point clearly enough. See, I was describing several different kinds of people and not just saying “all these people are portmanteautards!”

          First of all, the “consoletard” bit was a reference to this Zero Punctuation review. But I was trying to get the point across that some people aren’t stupid but rather lazy and/or willfully ignorant to the point of the result being the same, and those are similar to the “consoletards” that everything is, in theory, being dumbed down for. It was a bad example, though, because in this case it’s the WoW crowd that’s influencing the Diablo 3 and Starcraft 2 decisions, and it has nothing to do with consoles at all.

          Additionally, I wasn’t saying that majority of people are like this (though I realize I could have made that a lot clearer), but that Blizzard seems to feel that way. As opposed to, say, Valve, who seem to expect their customers to use their brains.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Re: Ubisoft and pirate numbers – I’m actually of the opinion that, at the very least, they have general numbers.

      Consider this – they can go to a torrent site and view how many seeders/leachers there are for a specific torrent found from the pirate bay. Doesn’t tell you who they are, but it does tell you how many people *did* or *are* downloading from a specific torrent. Do this to enough torrent file pages (While they are against pirating, you can almost be certain they have an entire department who’s only job is compiling these statistics each week or whenever). This is probably how Team Meat knows they have 90% piracy rates.

      Even more specific, the guys behind Amnesia: Dark Descent left special serial numbers for their review copies so that they could check to see if one of them got pirated. All they needed to do was google their torrent pages, download the game, and check the watermark. And…they found that one of the pirated copies *WAS* a review copy. Even if consumer-unfriendly DRM is bad for the general market, this is a clear case that would make me think you might as well treat reviewers with care – I don’t see sending a review copy to that reviewer (If they can identify specifically which reviewer it was) any time soon. Developers *can* and do know how to track piracy numbers for being able to tell success rates. ***

      With that said, there was the whole “ACII took 6 weeks to crack” vs. “PoP2008 had no DRM and got pirated like it was the end of the world, so we’ll drop the DLC for it on PC.” that probably has gotten them to consider it a success.

      ***Source: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/features/9011-The-Terrifying-Tale-of-Amnesia

      EDIT: One last thing – ACII and AC:B differed immensely in how much they were pirated, and how quickly, where AC:B did not have Always-On.

      • MrWhales says:

        This sorta connect to what I wanted to say. Honestly, if an indie dev didn’t make it, I don’t mean that in an elitist hipster way, more like that indie’s usually don’t DRM-coat their games) then I will pirate it.

        DRM? Gonna pirate that. I’m not going to pay that much money for a game that purposely restricts how and when I can play it. I hope they do miss my money, I know that lawsuit is more likely than them actually changing, but we can make that argument then.

        All the games I have (excluding online parts or Steam games I own and haven’t downloaded yet) I can load up and play whenever I want, however I want. That doesn’t mean that my computer is fileld to brim with AAA titles. I have a game rental subscription for that and play on a console. But there are a few.

  3. lupis42 says:

    I bought Starcraft II for a LAN party. If I could have returned it for my money back, I would in a minute. Blizzard learned NOTHING from watching Steam mature, and it looks like they have no interest in learning anything either.

    • Simon Buchan says:

      You didn’t try contacting customer service? Pretty much every company that isn’t somewhere like China will refund you if you contact them – no matter what their “terms of service” say.

      • lupis42 says:

        I tried, but when I couldn’t get a human on the phone in under half an hour, I gave up, and just took a crack at the single-player. It was fun, though it managed to need half an hour’s patching pretty much every time I tried to start it. (See also – not learning from mistakes made by Valve).

      • Moon O'Riley says:

        Unless your in a country such as New Zealand where our consumer protection laws have provisions making it illegal for businesses to accept returns of “Copyright Infringement Products” (basically software, music & video) unless they are faulty.

        • pinchy says:

          Yet many retailers still have an official policy of exchanging said things if you complain enough- or my personal favourite telling you “we can’t return this so if you change your mind just tell us it’s faulty because we have no way of checking it”.

          It’s still incredibly silly but I’ve never actually known anyone with a legitimate gripe actually be refused an exchange.

    • nawyria says:

      The difference is that with Starcraft II, you can only play the game with other people when you’re connected to battle.net.

      With steam it’s still possible to play games like Left 4 Dead, Counterstrike and Team Fortress over LAN, as long as the client remembers your account name.

  4. Sagretti says:

    The real money auction house I read about made me question getting this game, but now that I know it’s combined with no offline play, I’m officially turned off to the game. It sounds like Blizzard is steadily implementing their new vision of gaming for the future, and it’s a pretty bleak world. I really don’t want to be logged in 24/7, constantly watched by their servers for cheating, unable to use any mods, and constantly debating the financial benefit of using an item or selling it.

    It does seem to reveal why they wanted to make forum users use their real name, since real money is now involved. Ugh, just seems like way too much of reality is leaking into my escapism.

    • Hal says:

      This smells more like Activision to me. Perhaps I’m too trusting of Blizzard, though.

      In fact, the “no offline play” feature seems like it’s designed to have people exposed to the cash-only auction house as much as possible. Pure speculation, of course, but it’s not the internet if someone isn’t spouting off about things they couldn’t possibly know.

      • Sagretti says:

        Well, supposedly Blizzard makes no money from the auction house, so I’m not sure why they’d like to force people to use it. As for Activision, at this point it seems Blizzard is the one plotting this new course. It’s not just tacked on extra annoyances, but a complete and total re-design of how their games work. I truly believe they think they’re revolutionizing their games as some great new social platform, while ignoring the great examples that already exist (Steam, for the oft-repeated comparison).

        Essentially saying, from now on you’re not buying just a game from Blizzard, you’re buying a social network that you can’t opt out of using.

        • some random dood says:

          From this article at Ars Technica, it looks like there is a charge going to Blizzard. Whether they are trying to spin it as “we are not making *profit* on the auctions” as opposed to “we are not *charging* for the auctions”…

          • Sagretti says:

            Yeah, I didn’t catch that until I read a comment about it somewhere else. Depending on the percentage charged for placing auctions, Blizzard could make a killing on that alone. It also creates the potential for large monetary losses to people who place lots of auctions and don’t make successful sales.

            • pinchy says:

              And they get to sit on a pile of money on people’s accounts which Blizzard will be making some interest off. Not to mention the money that people will simply never take out of their account again- I’m still somewhat confused as to how easy it will be to get this money back, from reading Blizzards FAQ it sounds like money in your account can’t be cashed out unless you set it up so that the money goes straight into a “third-party service” like I’m guessing Paypal. Really the FAQ made it even less clear to me.

            • Kana says:

              Supposedly, they only charge you a flat fee, not a percentage based one. Only, they charge you a flat fee *every* time you put an item up. Someone undercut you by 1 gold? If you want to relist, you have to pay the fee again. Item doesn’t sell? You have to pay the fee again.

              Then they charge you again when you make a sale, again a flat fee for every item sold. So Blizzard will charge you twice for every successful use of the AH and at least once for ever failed use. But you don’t get the money you just earned. That money gets handled by an unannounced third-party that lets you use the money as much as you want… in Diablo 3. If you want to withdrawal your money, you have to pay another fee, this time to them.

              3 fees for using the auction house if you ever want to see a cent. Is it just me, or does this seem like shameful money grubbing from a big-time developer?

      • The Naked Emperor says:

        I like what TotalBiscuit had to say on this: it doesn’t matter which end of the company came up with this idea, they are the same entity now and you can’t reasonably make Blizzard out to be the good guy who’s just under Activision’s oppressive thumb. They still make the call on whether something like this gets implemented, they’re still pretty independent from the main company (as far as I understand) and so anything that’s gonna get dumped on the company should go to them.

        Regardless of their motivation, they’re trouncing consumer rights and using corporate double speak to try and convince us it’s actually a good thing. This is the same problem I have with their WoW business model where it costs $80 to get into it, they make you pay a subscription to play the game, and their microtransactions are exorbitantly priced. The worst offender on that front is server transfers which amount to you paying $25 for them to press a button. The whole process is automated and more often than not it’s done in a few hours of issuing the request.

        You could argue it’s an entirely optional service but what if you spend months, even years, building a character and playing max level content but then your guild falls apart or your friends go off somewhere else? If your server no longer provides you with a compelling play experience but you have somewhere else you’d like to go then Blizzard is just milking you in order to enable your continued enjoyment of the game. It’s even worse if you want to faction change, too, as the total cost of that is $50-55 and that’s just for one character, there’s no bundle packages or discounts or anything. That is ridiculous and frankly I think it shows contempt toward the customer base.

        It would be one thing if microtransactions were their bread and butter but they’re not. The fact that people would go along with it boggles my freaking mind. Of course I can’t say too much-server transfers cost that much the entire four years I played. I didn’t stop when they introduced the $25 sparkle pony. It wasn’t until the game design itself started falling to pieces via fast-tracked heroics and Tier badge vendors that I decided to stop. There was a time when I would have said there was something special about WoW but now it feels like the McDonalds of video games. I’m so, so disappointed in Blizzard.

  5. Of course, the crackers will have single player offline mode within, say, negative 2 weeks of release. Then they’ll un-re-de-crack it, and be online anyway.

    Alternate comment: “We’re stopping people from cracking their way to the most powerful items in the game; now you can just buy them. We’ve solved it twice!”

    • acronix says:

      Pretty much this. Because the Diablo franchise is so popular, we can be sure it will be cracked as soon as the game is playable, and every patch after that.
      Hell, I wouldn`t be surprised if they eventually found some way to make online game possibles with hamachi or garena or a VPN.

      • Tse says:

        It depends. If the servers do the monster spawning and control it may take a while to crack… years maybe, but it would cost a lot of money for Activision to maintain it.

        • Mistwraithe says:

          If the server hands out the maps, monsters, items, quests, conversations, etc, then it becomes very hard to crack it because you effectively have to write the entire server from scratch using guesswork!

          The only feasible way of doing it would be to get hold of a copy of the server application but presumably Blizzard will be trying to keep that pretty secure.

          • Jarenth says:

            Trying‘ being the operative word.

          • daveNYC says:

            They’ll have the servers spawn the loot. That’s what is important for both the game balance and for the auction house.

            What insane amount of DB space would be required to store records for all currently existing items in all of the Diablo III games? So if joebob is playing, and he gets the Mega Hammer of Lighting or whatever, a record is created on the serverside and then it is tracked from there.

  6. Phoenix says:

    It’s a nasty lie, badly told too. You can put the option for playing single player online without forcing the player to do so. It’s probably just for piracy issues, nothing new, except it’s blizzard.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Hell, D2 already did that. You went to BattleNet, created a game with a password, and didn’t bother to invite anyone else. *poof* single-player online, and those characters were perfectly acceptable to play online multiplayer later. So, there’s only a lack of not-online play.

      • SolkaTruesilver says:

        Except when you:

        – Don’t had internet connection available

        and even if you just wanna play alone, you are still subject to lag and delays from the server.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          Once we get down to the point of “but I want to play online without an internet connection” or “I want to grind an online character without being online”, I think the discussion has reached the point of silly… The point is that there did exist a perfectly reasonable method for playing single-player with an online-capable character; there is no need to remove non-online play to “reduce confusion”, especially with a core audience (yeah, everybody that bought D2 — that’s probably millions by now) that ALREADY understands the distinction between online and offline characters.

        • Ok. I played a lot of D1 and a lot of DII/LOD.

          As far as the AH goes.

          There was a huge black market economy, all running off of e-bay and hackers. I very much appreciate what Blizzard is trying to do with the Auction house, and it is something that has been done in other games, mostly to very positive fan reviews.

          As far as the “always on-line” goes, most people with a modern gaming quality computer have always on internet. The D2 model has extremely light host and bandwidth requirements, I expect the same for D3.

          But, for the 1% they are likely to lose who do not have internet connections available, yet are still willing to pay $60+ for a game and for a gaming rig, they probably will stop a fair number of thieves. The net revenue will probably be a solid plus.

          As for being able to crack the software and slide on-line on the official servers — probably not very likely. Being able to crack the software and play with your computer as the virtual server — probably very likely.

          Able to play with other legit users on-line? Probably the same chance of using a character from a pirate WoW server on a legitimate one.

          This looks like a fruit of piracy, pure and simple (with the overlay of the hackers as pirates tossed in). I’d save my anger for the pirates, not Blizzard.

          • Ramsus says:

            Oh please. You yourself already know this will not hinder piracy of their game one bit. They know it too. How on earth can you possibly blame pirates for Blizzard doing something that virtually promotes piracy? It’s not like they can possibly think this hampers piracy in any way. No, it’s not the fault of pirates. It’s the fault of the greedy.

          • Mogatrat says:

            Except this is punishing ME, not the pirates. My internet connection is flaky and likes to randomly switch off at times. There is nothing – literally, nothing – I can do about this, so I prefer to be offline when I’m playing something that involves saving. For instance, what if one of my random blackouts occurs while I’m playing online? How much progress will I lose? Depending on the time I’ve been playing, it could be five or six hours of lost gametime. Fuck that. This is why I didn’t buy Assassin’s Creed II, this is why I will not be buying Diablo 3. If I cannot trust a game to save my progress – which is a technology that was perfected more than two decades ago – I see no reason to take the risk. My 60$ are going to Torchlight 2 and maybe some other, better, less-offensively DRM-saddled games, thanks.

            Besides that, I own a copy of Diablo II. One copy. This is enough to get a LAN party going, and this is an amazing thing because LAN parties sell copies. 90% of my friends buy the games they play at my house. I’ve had friends buy Killing Floor, UT3, Diablo II, Half-Life 2, Starcraft, Warcraft III… Now, none of them will be buying Diablo III because I’ll be telling them what sort of rubbish it is. So that’s a nice pack of lost sales right there, of people who DO have always-on internet and good computers and disposable income.

            Besides that, like someone said above, this won’t stop pirates, not by a long shot. They’ll just crack it and use VPN services amongst themselves. This is Blizzard losing sales, creating an inherently unstable community (what happens when the servers go out, as they will inevitably do?) AND failing to stop pirates at the same time.

            Blizzard used to be one of my favorite gaming companies, alongside Valve and Epic. Looks like Valve is the only one still doing anything that makes sense.
            Sigh.

            • Alexander The 1st says:

              Except this is punishing ME, not the pirates. My internet connection is flaky and likes to randomly switch off at times. There is nothing – literally, nothing – I can do about this, so I prefer to be offline when I’m playing something that involves saving. For instance, what if one of my random blackouts occurs while I’m playing online? How much progress will I lose? Depending on the time I’ve been playing, it could be five or six hours of lost gametime.

              …Not in this game – it’s online – if you disconnect, your state’s almost certainly been auto-saved. I know this is the case for League of Legends, for example, although as that game has no DC-protection (Which, presumably, single-player-online would have), usually when I get back on, I’ve been killed and respawn at my base. But all my items, k/a/d ratio, it’s all still there. It’s like a cloud-autosave.

              I do understand why you prefer to be offline though – it’s my preferred state as well. I just use consoles/Bioware disc checks for that, though.

              Besides that, I own a copy of Diablo II. One copy. This is enough to get a LAN party going, and this is an amazing thing because LAN parties sell copies. 90% of my friends buy the games they play at my house. I’ve had friends buy Killing Floor, UT3, Diablo II, Half-Life 2, Starcraft, Warcraft III… Now, none of them will be buying Diablo III because I’ll be telling them what sort of rubbish it is. So that’s a nice pack of lost sales right there, of people who DO have always-on internet and good computers and disposable income.

              My cousin brought down Goldeneye 007 (N64) back in the day, and we played split-screen multiplayer. I still don't own it. It is a great game, but I just never went out and bought it. Partially because it was rated T, and I was still around 12 at the time, but also because...the multiplayer's best with four people, and we normally only have two gamers in our family down here.

              Besides that, like someone said above, this won’t stop pirates, not by a long shot. They’ll just crack it and use VPN services amongst themselves. This is Blizzard losing sales, creating an inherently unstable community (what happens when the servers go out, as they will inevitably do?) AND failing to stop pirates at the same time.

              The trick isn’t to stop pirates, it’s to stop pirates who do pirate but would pay if they pirate process would be difficult enough (We’ll call them “leech pirates”, since they leech off of other pirates finding the solution in the first place, rather than performing the extensive process to get around the DRM in the first place.). It’s like a game of limbo – sure, people can always get underneath the lowered bar each round, and maybe they can easily hand over whatever apparatus they used to get under it, but if said apparatus (VPN, in this case) requires a 10-pound manual, those so-called “leech pirates” are probably just going to say it’s not worth it to jump through the hoops and just end up paying.

          • Wtrmute says:

            Good job trying to defend the indefensible. I only played Diablo I back in the day, but I’m frankly considering installing a Torrent program on my machine, download Diablo III when it is cracked, and just leave it seeding there. Maybe that will make Blizzard remove online play in Diablo IV?

            • So, let me get this straight…

              In order to protest what appears to be a very clear anti-piracy measure in an environment so hostile that for every copy sold around 10 pirate copies are downloaded, you’re planning to pirate the game.

              Seems a bit like breaking into houses to protest extra police patrols.

              I’ve got a better idea. If you don’t like this feature, don’t buy the game, and write a letter to Blizzard telling them why you’ve decided not to play it. That’s an actual protest that they might listen to.

              • Wtrmute says:

                Yes, basically that’s it. It doesn’t help anybody, but sure makes me feel better about myself.

                EDIT: Upon further reflection, you may think of it this way: if I’m already being treated as a criminal, I might as well be one.

                • Yeah, sorry, but that doesn’t make you sound any better. Of all the possible options you have to protest what Blizzard is doing, you’ve selected the single option that ensures that:

                  1. You won’t be heard by any decision makers.
                  2. You will help justify the very decision you are protesting.
                  3. You will look like you’re just spoiled because you can’t have the game the way you like it, thus delegitimizing your point of view.

                  Seriously, if you’re that upset by the decision, write a letter and boycott. Add to the blog entries talking about why you don’t like the decision. This is a video game, for crying out loud. Nobody is holding a gun to your head to play it.

                  • Modest Pile of Hats says:

                    It will justify the decision? If their decision to make the game online-only doesn’t stop pirates, yet that’s the reason they did it in the first place, to the chagrin of their own customers, they just made themselves look very stupid.

                    If Diablo 3 does turn out to be pirate-friendly, I’ll wait for a price drop and then buy it, as per usual for me. The always-online isn’t an issue personally, and there’s no need to contribute to the closure of one of my longtime favorite companies just because they’re going through some management-without-a-brain issues. Piracy is a problem and I don’t partake, but it would be funny to see the always inept DRM trounced solidly yet again.

                • Alexander The 1st says:

                  Upon further reflection, you may think of it this way: if I’m already being treated as a criminal, I might as well be one.

                  Maybe it’s because I’ve been playing Dragon Age II recently, but if you don’t mind my saying…

                  In the Dragon Age universe, that never works out well. Not only do they become an abomination, but it makes most people sympathetic to their cause see the reasoning for the templar side.

                  Or, for a more modern example:

                  “I’ve been told that I’m from the bad end of town, and I’m sick of people treating me with caution at first knowledge because I am from the bad end of town, so I’m going to resort to a life a crime because everyone thinks I’m going to anyways – thus contributing to the number of people who validate the view of the bad end of town, thus making more people feel subjugated because other people in the bad end of town resort to a life of crime.”

                  Or consider the Mutants from X-Men – you can either be a force of destruction like Magneto because that’s what people think you’ll do anyways, *or* you can act like Prof X., whereupon you rise to the challenge and prove that you’re better than them, because you won’t stoop to their level. Personally, I’m more team Prof X.

          • Blake says:

            “As far as the “always on-line” goes, most people with a modern gaming quality computer have always on internet.”

            I live in Australia.

            Sure I’m always online, bandwidth might be a problem if others in my house are torrenting and such, but generally I think it would be ok.

            The average 200ms ping time and 5% packet loss however could easily result in character deaths.

            I always avoided D2 online as I couldn’t dodge enemy attacks to my fragile necromancer easily enough (one moment no projectile on the screen, next you’re dead). Coupled with the occasional drop out (maybe once every two days) and I end up with a thoroughly unenjoyable experience for what I was looking forward to as a great offline experience.

            I don’t want to take my characters onto battle net, I might occasionally (like 4 or 5 times ever) want to play with my other friends (who don’t ever game online but would occasionally LAN it up for some Diablo-y fun), but if I had the option of buying a purely offline version of the game I would take it.

        • pinchy says:

          I liked being able to do both- when I was at home I’d play my Amazon on Blizzard’s servers. When I wasn’t I could still play my Barbarian on my laptop offline- often in locations where I couldn’t connect to the net even if I’d wanted to. Really fail to see what we’re gaining here.

      • Syal says:

        Hell, D1 did that!

  7. Sucal says:

    I’m trying to decide whether or not the Gold Trade thing is a good idea or not. On one side, it does mean that people are far less likely to lose their accounts to dodgy gold sellers and similar. On the other hand, it means they are far more likely to be massive chains and false accusations of being hacked or similar.

    It means that the gold can quickly be reset to where it belongs if cheating was proved. On the other hand, a dreaded girl quit can be far more deveasting (girl quit = partner/parent logging in and destroying or dumping all your stuff) both in game and to the relationship.

    Goodside: Gold Farmers are less likely to work.
    Downside: Sweatshop farmers are more likely to work, and will be doing said thing legally. Blizzard won’t care because they will be getting a cut of all the ‘illegal’ transactions either way. I predict disclaimers that transfer fees wont be refunded for any reason, hacking or not. Or that they wont be refunded unless you pay for a dongle.

    • Simon Buchan says:

      They explicitly state they will restore hacked accounts (presumably your “girl quit” would count as such), due to the judgement of an employee – and why woundn’t they? They do it already for WoW, and with real money involved local law potentially requires them to. You will probably see an explicit waive of any guarantee that you will be refunded, but that’s just them preventing you from suing.

      • sab says:

        I don’t think so. The wow-items and money are all ‘fictional’, and can easily be managed by Blizzard. Real life money? Not so much.
        I doubt it that ebay will give you a refund if you tell them that your raging girlfriend placed all those bids or sold your pet canary.

      • Sucal says:

        Ah yes but that depends on the local law and everything which is why I worry. Especially since a friend smashing your computer wouldn’t be covered by warranty or service for example.

  8. Mark says:

    Sounds like turning it into an online game. But – forgive my ignorance – wasn’t it pretty much that to begin with?

    • Sagretti says:

      Diablo has always had a major online component, and that was the best part of the game for most people. However, there was always the choice to play the game offline with no connectivity to the internet.

      Now that they’ve thrown real money into the mix, they have to “protect” from people cheating and obtaining extra items that they can sell. Of course, there’s always the idea that they could simply allow you to have offline characters that can never, ever go online, but that would prevent them from constantly controlling every aspect of the game, which they seem hell-bent on doing.

      I still find this funny, though, because traditionally Diablo games have also developed glitches that allow you to duplicate items simply through some odd combination of actions, and it usually takes Blizzard quite a while to fix it. I can’t wait for the day when a bunch of people’s cash investments get devalued to nothing when the market gets flooded by duplicates.

      • Interesting that you say, “Diablo has always had a major online component, and that was the best part of the game for most people. However, there was always the choice to play the game offline with no connectivity to the internet.”

        It may have been primarily an online game for you however, there was (and still is) a HUGE offline lan component. We still play Diablo II at home together, many of my friends also do. Interestingly enough lan games (Diablo II, Unreal Tournament, Starcraft) are the ones couples (especially older married couples like Shamus and I and almost ALL of my friends online and IRL) play together, unless they have a gaming system and even then most prefer playing on two computers together to playing splitscreen.

        This is something I have been meaning to write about because I think it is something that game developers/publishers have completely missed. What do they think happens when gamers get in relationships/get married? Usually either they marry someone who already games OR they teach them how to play. My brother-in-laws both play games as well as my brothers and guess what– they all play video games with their female counterparts. It is so much simpler and easier to play via lan than it is to get both computers online and try to work around lag (usually one of the computers is older and slower).

        • Sagretti says:

          I meant to say “a lot” rather than “most,” so I wasn’t trying to imply that the majority want online play. Personally, I prefer offline single player for Diablo, as I have World of Warcraft if I want an online rpg experience, so I’m definitely not in the group who prefers playing online.

          As for LAN games, I think it’s pretty much an unstated principle now that Blizzard no longer supports LAN play in their games. Overall, it’s rather depressing, as games seem to be giving us less and less options as they supposedly advance.

        • Peter H. Coffin says:

          LAN multiplayer over ad hoc wifi between a couple of laptops always draws a crowd in a cruise ship bar… *grin* I actually do MOST of my actual gaming on vacation, mostly because that’s when I have the TIME.

        • Abnaxis says:

          This.

          I have never–read never–played DII online, but I have logged hundreds of hours at home on LAN playing with my wife.

          I think what game companies do is they look at their severs, and see a million logged in. They check the forums and find 95% of respondents play their game online. And they conclude that it must mean no on plays offline anymore This is so unbelievably stupid–I mean, of course everyone on your forum plays online, ONE LEADS TO THE OTHER!

          When I bought Civ 5 and found out they just completely left out hotseat, I wanted to scream. “The demand wasn’t high enough” they say. It as an unbelievable load of crap. I want to get a hold of whoever is doing market research for this company, force them into a research design class, and make them write “I will not rely solely on online convenience sampling” ten thousand times. People who only want to play on LAN are a significant portion of gamers, even if they are not the ones flaming the forums.

          As it stands, all I can do is deny Blizzard my sale, despite the fact that the franchise stands very close to my favorite of all time. Undoubtedly, they will blame it on pirates

    • Blake says:

      I only played online a couple of times, far too competitive, I just wanted to relax and explore the world and conquer it all in my own time.

      I couldn’t count how much I loved playing Diablo 2 offline. So many characters I’d built up over the years.
      I’d always sit down, start the game, type in /players 8 for extra challenge/xp and explore every nook and cranny of my procedurally generated world.

  9. MichaelG says:

    You wrote “Then they acepted something live Steam”. Did you mean “like”, not “live”? And “accepted”, of course.

    Or perhaps typos add to that charming “rant” quality. :-)

  10. Simon Buchan says:

    So it looks like… people don’t care about DRM, so long as it works right? At least activation limits seem to have disapeared, those were dumb. And Ubisoft isn’t useing their always-on DRM for all their titles. It’s far too early to tell, but if the noises they made when they removed the always on checks from Asssasin’s Creed are to be believed, they plan to patch out those checks in the games they put it in as the games get older. It’s not a universal backslide into evil, horrible desruction of our rights.

    A thought experiment: If Ubisoft has real numbers backing up their claims that their DRM works in preventing piracy and increasing sales, but can’t release them for some reason (probably competitive), and they manage to (hypothetically, remember?) avoid locking out legitimate customers, and since we’re in magical candy land here already, there’s no 12 step registration on install – isn’t that a good thing that they have ‘solved’ piracy and can now make the money they deserve for their product? DRM is only a problem because it makes the customer’s experience worse, remember.

    I really like Assassin’s Creed, so if Ubisoft will only give it to me if I jump through some hoops, then I will jump through some hoops. If those hoops break my experience, and I can’t play the game, then I tell them that, and get my game refunded. In the long run, they don’t want us to jump through hoops either, they make less money – they have incentive to make DRM work well for both us and them.

    TL;DR: DRM is bad. Piracy is bad. DRM < Piracy?

    • Even says:

      People really don’t care as long as it isn’t too much of an inconvenience. And the fanboys just suck it up and drive on.

      Piracy really is a problem of it’s own, and DRM schemes never were the right answer to it. I doubt PC-people would have ever been so willing to accept it if Steam had turned up to be plain bullshit like the Diablo III system here. If not for Valve looking to seriously increase the value of their service to their customer, I just seriously doubt it would have become as popular as it is.

    • kanodin says:

      My position has always been “why should I care how effective your DRM is” piracy does not effect me, DRM does. I don’t own stock in your company an I don’t benefit in any way if you have less piracy. Furthermore you have already sacrificed me and what I want to chase this goal so I see no reason to give them the benefit of the doubt out of some sense of goodwill they’ve been busily destroying. Thus the only thing I care about is how restrictive the DRM is.

      I’m a big fan of Assassins Creed too, and I would have gladly bought 2 at release if not for that DRM, as is I payed 10 bucks during a sale after they patched the DRM out. Should they decide to go back to that system I can keep right on waiting/not buying if they don’t patch it out.

  11. Zombie says:

    Is Shamus saying Steam was/is a bad thing? And I will say, MOST PC gamers slam their heads on their keyboards when they see GFWL (At least, most of the PC gamers I know).

    • Allan says:

      Steam restricts your rights of access to something you’ve paid for, of course it’s a bad thing. However, in return it gives you some conveniences, you don’t need to cart around your collection, just log in and download(if it’s servers aren’t suddenly ‘too busy’), it automatically keeps games up to date for you if you want it too(and if you don’t want it too), they often offer games cheaper(this hasn’t been ture in the UK for a long time though, excluding sales), you can activate off-line mode and not log in(aslong as you do so while still online, God help you if you should loose your internet connection unexpectedly) and all sorts of other things. So it’s a trade off kind of thing, you relinquish something and in return they(might) give you something else.

      What Blizzard and others seem to be doing is increasing or ramping up the restrictions, while offering less or even none of the trade-off conveniences.

    • I think what he was pointing out was that Steam was inherently regressive – games locked to account, no resale, require special client to access, no transfer to friends, and so on. Compared to ‘box & serial number’ (or code ring), it is much more limiting.

    • krellen says:

      Shamus started out a rampant anti-Steamer. He slowly came around to accepting it as the least worse of the bad systems, and one with enough side benefits he could live with it. He’s still not completely happy with the arrangement, however.

      I remain in the anti-Steam camp, with an Obsidian caveat because I am an unrepentant Obsidian fanboy.

      • Shamus says:

        Krellen is correct. That is exactly my position.

        • Which, is an argument that people can come around to accepting some DRM.

          The real point, made by Heather above, is about LAN play, which I suspect is more prevelant than the game companies suspect.

          Abolishing lag issues is a huge point.

        • I’m pro-steam all the way – I pay $30-$50 less for all of my games than in retail here. There’s simply no comparison in the New Zealand market – it simply provides an objectively better service. I mean, I understand if steam is selling retail price for you, or if there’s some other reason that retail is a valid equivalent to digital, but in my country it doesn’t even compare.

          I don’t know how similar that is to other countries, but this could be a huge reason why people are so willing to accept DRM like that – there’s no financially feasible alternative.

          • X2-Eliah says:

            For most European countries, it’s pretty much the opposite, Steam’s retail price is 10 to 20 euros higher than getting it off amazon or another store. And it never, never, never drops over time, so a game 4 years old will still ask for first-week retail price.

            Except for sales.

            • Simon Buchan says:

              In New Zealand, at the current exchange rate, new titles can sell retail for US$90-115, and the fire sale clearance price is normally US$45. It made sense for titles to be NZ$100 when NZ$1 = US$0.5-0.6, but NZ$130 at US$0.8-US$0.9? Price drops are also very rare unless they are clearing stock.

      • Bubble181 says:

        This is also my exact point of view regarding Steam.

  12. Wolf says:

    Regarding ulterior motives I assume that the new Real Money Action House was a strong motivating force for Blizzard to force people to play online. Offline single play would be disconnected from the Auction House and they probably hope to build a thriving economy of which they earn their Auction fees.

    So they actually did learn from Steam. They just learned the lesson about enabling opportune buying decisions and are now no longer catering to the offline crowd as a consequence. And who could really blame them after WoW?

  13. mac says:

    The obvious answer to this is what they did in Diablo II:
    1) Characters you could take online/offline at will, with no guarantee against cheating (because they’re stored on the player’s PC)
    and
    2) Online only (‘ladder’) characters
    with no contact allowed between 1) and 2)

    Part of the problem in DII was that (1) gave people an easy opportunity to learn to cheat in (2), and Blizzard didn’t design DII to be safe against these attacks – their security was bolted on later, and ineffective.

    Which suggests a response of either designing your system secure from the start, or what they have done (only allowing option 2). Unfortunately, only allowing server-side characters doesn’t fix the security, it just makes it harder to reverse engineer the system to find cheats.

    TL;DR:
    This is stupid, and if Blizzard is relying on this to make cheating harder I predict DIII will turn into the same mess DII was. (Massive cheating, everyone and his dog in possession of stuff you’d need years of play to get legitimately)

    • Simon Buchan says:

      As a programmer I can confidently say the absolute golden rule of network security is NEVER TRUST THE CLIENT. You ask them to design the system secure from the start? They did – your character is only trustworthy if Blizzard’s servers were the only ones who touched it.

      I’m confused why you first claim that unlike Diablo III they didn’t design Diablo II with security, and that’s why it was full of dups and hacked gear – and then claim that Diablo III will turn out the same?

      I should clarify, however, that I would still very much like an offline mode. It’s how I would play, given the chance, even without being able to play online.

      • Nathon says:

        If I recall correctly, Diablo 2 multiplayer characters were stored on the servers. That’s why I could quit when I lagged, while still alive, and log back in to find that my (hardcore) character had died after the client disconnected. That didn’t preclude single player because the single player characters were stored locally.

        • pinchy says:

          That’s one of my biggest peeves with this- playing a hardcore character online sucks if you are sometimes lag prone and as such is something I have no interest in. If it was offline where I won’t get randomly lagged and die for no apparent reason then yeah that’s something I’d look at doing.

      • mac says:

        Yes, you can’t trust data coming from the player’s computer. That’s what non-ladder play was for; so people could play offline, take their ‘tainted’ characters online, and not ruin the ‘real’ game for those who only play online.

        I said: “if Blizzard is relying on this to make cheating harder I predict DIII will turn into the same mess DII was.”

        If they’re hoping the lack of an offline testbed for cheating attempts will save the day, it will be a horrible mess; the game’s behaviour will be reverse engineered and exploits found.
        If, on the other hand, they’ve made it secure against cheating (by, for example, cross checking items on all characters – for duplicates – in the same game after a crash) then cheaters can test all day – they won’t consistently find unpatchable holes in security.

        Edit to add: my original comment above assumes that their stated motivation is the true one, which is, of course, painfully naive.

  14. Primogenitor says:

    This is a blatant excuse. A character tester / validator is not hard – NWN1 had it back in the day. Balancing the character classes is a much harder problem than checking if people followed the rules.

  15. Blake says:

    I don’t believe this is a DRM-issue. There is a jerk in the video game industry, possibly two of them, who is out there telling people that no one wants single player anymore and multiplayer is all that matters. That people will take “play with friends” over “authentic or meaningful experience” every time.

    I hate that guy, but you have to admit, the numbers back him pretty significantly.

    Diablo 2 had a story that was in parts goofy and ridiculous and stupid. It was also consistent, accessible from anywhere in the game at anytime, and geniunely did explain what the hell was going on. I promise you though, that a great too many people, who have beaten Diablo 2 on Hardcore Hell mode, multiple times, never actually took the time to read the damn thing.

    Short summary: Blizzard doesn’t care about Pirates any more than it cares about narrative-lovers or roleplayers. Blizzard cares about money, and the people who are connected 24/7, want Epic Loot and PVP, and weren’t going to read shit anyway are the best source of it.

    • Mistwraithe says:

      In what way do the numbers back him? I’ve heard many stories of games which were successful at retail selling several hundred thousand copies but only a few thousand of those buyers ever played online.

      • Blake says:

        I’ve never heard of that, but if you say so. I certainly don’t work for NPD or whatever, I was just thinking of all the biggest games of the past three years for Consoles and PC. Almost all of them were entirely multiplayer focused. The biggest sales are always for Shooters and MMOs, games that thrive on their multiplayer and rarely offer anything else. Hell, what’s the average shooter campaign these days? 4-6 hours? Is there such a thing as an MMO where you can’t skip the quest text because it’s geniunely important? That’s all I meant.

  16. Joshua says:

    Two thoughts-
    1. Neverwinter Nights had the option to allow servers with characters that were saved on the server, and characters that were saved on the player’s PC. I think probably like 99.99% of server owners realized pretty quickly to only allow server-stored characters, which meant that people who had played the single-player game and got to 20 had to create fresh characters.

    You know what? No one cared! It just allowed you to create that many more extra characters and play them through all of the levels. Call it replayability of the game.

    2. As you’ve touched on before, it’s awfully damn hard to prove that DRM hurt a game’s sales. If the game sells well, they can tell themselves that DRM wasn’t a bad thing at all. If the game sells poorly, they’ll likely believe that it was something else that people didn’t like.

  17. rofltehcat says:

    Since I didn’t have any interest in this game anyways (and neither Starcraft 2), I couldn’t care less before but now I hope it flops.

    Sadly, like every Blizzard game, people will buy it just because Starcraft 1 was overhyped and Warcraft 3 was good.

    About Steam and the other activation things:
    I don’t buy games at full price anymore. I buy them very cheap on Steam. I buy a few games at full price now and then when I really care about that game and can be sure that it doesn’t have excessive customer surveilance measures that will get in my way of enjoying the game.
    For me it is fine that they put DRM on their games. But for me it drastically decreases the amount of money I am willing to pay for a game.

    Coincidentally, the wait time that decreases the price also decreases the amount of crap I get from bugs and broken DRM. Win-Win!

    • Infinitron says:

      Good comment. The proliferation of “crazy” sales on Steam is the oldschool gamer’s saving grace in these modern times.

      Basically, you always know that you can trade time for money. Wait two years, and any game you want WILL eventually go on a 75% sale. It may even be a GOTY version which includes all DLC.
      And if you’re an adult with a life, waiting a year or two to play a game really isn’t that big a deal.

      We should be thankful to Steam for providing what has effectively become a customer-personalized pricing strategy.

    • Falcon says:

      You hit the nail on the head. Two examples for me, Assasins Creed 2 and Batman:AA. Both games I had strong interest in, both had stupid DRM ( UbiDRM and GFWL respectively). Both games I bought played and loved. Both games I paid > $10 for, think it was $7 each. Both games I would have gladly paid full price for.

      Let me repeat, I would have gladly paid $50 on day one for these games, if not for bullshit DRM. Ubisoft and Square listen closely, your DRM stance cost you $40 each from an actual customer. AC: Brotherhood and Arkham City are on my watch list, but I WILL NOT buy them until I get them from one of the ridiculous Steam sales.

      An otherwise perfect game loses about $40 in value to me with DRM. So a game I would otherwise value at $50 I will not pay more than $10, if I value at $40 or less I will never buy until the DRM is gone.

      Big devs lose though, most of my money is going to indies and small studios these days, so only the truly special games are worth the hastle of DRM. Why pay more (money, headaches) for less (fun, innovation, DRM)?

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        An otherwise perfect game loses about $40 in value to me with DRM. So a game I would otherwise value at $50 I will not pay more than $10, if I value at $40 or less I will never buy until the DRM is gone.

        Better a $40 loss than a $50 loss.

        • Christopher M. says:

          Only true if an erstwhile pirate buys it full-price.

          Start: 1 legit consumer and 1 pirate. Legit consumer pays $50, pirate pays $0. Total: $50

          Current drm method: legit customer pays $10, pirate pays $0. Total: $10

          If the pirate does pay, you make a relative $10 profit. But generally speaking, at most one in ten pirates will pay at all. This is by all accounts a loss.

          Again, piracy statistics tell only half the story. Without sales differences, you’re naught but a blind painter, and your conclusions are worse than useless.

          • Falcon says:

            Very right, I’m not one of those erstwhile pirates. Not since I got full time employment that is. Sure in college I would probably have pirated the game, but that stopped over 6 years ago. So in my case it’s not ‘hey we loss less by getting them to buy instead of pirate’ its ‘we lost. Period.’

            I doubt I am alone in this group.

      • Ian says:

        Batman:AA on Steam was actually worse.

        You have Steam – Ok fine I can live with steam.
        You have GFWL – Tied to another account of mine? Oh all right but now I can play some…..
        5 Machine Activation limit with 3rd Party DRM, DAMN IT!

  18. mewse says:

    I never really understood what people saw in the Diablo series. I suspect that this may have something to do with the years of my gaming life which were devoted to NetHack.

    Anyhow, I’m curious, Shamus, about why you had such a negative reaction to StarCraft 2’s requiring you to authenticate to a central server in order to play single-player, but you didn’t seem to mind Minecraft requiring you to do the same thing? I have exactly the same feelings, but I’m not sure I can explain to my own satisfaction why the two seem to me to be different. Do we have double-standards, or is there something different going on between the two? (Or is it just that Minecraft lets you have it remember your password, so you don’t actually have to re-type it every time?)

    • X2-Eliah says:

      It’s because Minecraft is indie (at least in opinion if not anymore in true facts, not sure on that distinction). And everyone knows that indie is good while big-companies are bad. That’s just how it is, deal with it.

      • mewse says:

        I was asking a serious question. Sorry if that wasn’t clear.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          I was making a serious answer. Sorry if that wasn’t clear, too. Of course, not all, but still a good deal of people do have two different views on games, depending if it is an ‘indie’ game or a common-dev one. Two different ranking criteria sets, two different expectations, two different responses to the same concepts & contents.

      • Ringwraith says:

        There is and offline mode to Minecraft, provided you’ve logged in previously, making it pretty much no different from Steam in that aspect.

        • mewse says:

          The same is true of StarCraft 2 too. Offline mode is available.

          There’s gotta be some reason why it feels weird and somewhat scummy in SC2, but not in Minecraft. Is it just the indie factor, like X2-Eliah says? To me, it feels like that shouldn’t matter; like we should be judging games based upon what the games do, not giving DRM an automatic “pass” just because we like the creator.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Isn’t the offline-mode of SCII limited though? Like 14 days without logging in or something? I seem to remember it’s not really a “proper” offline mode as it times out.

            • mewse says:

              After some research…

              There seems to be two different things; there’s “Guest Mode”, which lets you play offline at any time up to 30 days after your last login. After that time, you’ll have to login again, to re-enable guest mode. Additionally, there’s “offline mode” which will be offered to you whenever your computer actually has no internet connection. Haven’t seen anyone talking about a time limit on offline mode, though the only way to get that option is for Battle.net to be unreachable. And it’s certainly possible that “offline mode” and “guest mode” are just two different names for the same thing.

              SC2’s periodic “phone home” behaviour for offline play definitely seems much more evil than Minecraft’s “if you can’t authenticate, then you can play offline” behaviour. I guess maybe I had heard about this before and forgot about it, and this is why SC2’s no-authentication-required offline mode felt scummier to me than Minecraft’s, even though I couldn’t state why? Dunno.

              • Will says:

                SC2 defaults to offline mode if it can’t reach Bnet2 for some reason. While in offline mode you don’t get achievements etc, but can still play the campaign and save your progress. What i found very interesting is that if you play in Offline mode and meet the requirements for achievements, when you next log onto Bnet it will actually retroactively award you the achievements, i guess after it checks that they’re legit.

                As far as i am aware you cannot deliberately activate offline mode without unplugging your modem, but so long as you have logged in at least once SC2 is entirely playable without an internet connection, much like Steam.

                • Bubble181 says:

                  Odd, I never got any of my achievements when I went on line afterwards. I replayed massive parts of the game just for the achievements; having finished the entire campaign off line in off line mode (I regularly move my pc between 2 locations; one with and one without internet. I suspect a LOT of college/university students do the same, between home and dorm.)

                  • pinchy says:

                    Had my net drop out on me which cost me an achievement and had to replay it once my net was going to get it which is I believe the way it’s supposed to work. I have no idea why I cared so much about the achievement especially when I knew I’d done it and noone else would ever see it but still…

                    • houser2112 says:

                      “and noone else would ever see it”

                      If memory serves, this isn’t true. I believe you can go into someone’s profile and see what achievements they have.

          • The fact that we got locked out of Starcraft 2 MULTIPLE TIMES even though there is a supposed offline mode– you still have to log in online first whereas in Minecraft once you have logged in once you can always login on any of the computers you have used that account on, and it saves your password for login.

            I realize that is an incomplete sentence but it is morning and I am sans coffee.

            Our son has been in tears multiple times because of the stupid Starcraft 2 account (due to having to login EACH AND EVERY TIME and their battlenet being down on occasion so he COULDN’T login).

            Guess which game he plays now (and it isn’t a Blizzard game.) And guess what game he has absolutely no interest in playing? He goes back and happily plays Starcraft original instead if he gets in the mood to play.

      • Entropy says:

        Well it is indie in true facts too, surely. It does not have a publisher, as far as I’m aware.

    • Shamus says:

      Minecraft allows you to play offline. You can even set up your own (modded!) server / client system completely free of Mojang.

      And yes, remembering the player’s password is an obvious interface choice for anyone that cares about user experience.

      • Mephane says:

        I’d say it depends. I’d rather re-type my password than having it lie around in a cleartext file that that can be accessed by any process in my computer, heh. That said, password protection in many systems is completely bogus. I can’t count how many forums etc. directly sent me my password in the registration confirmation mail. Fail. Big time.

      • pinchy says:

        Really depends on the game I guess- most things I would rather have an option just to log in automatically, with things like WOW accounts it’s a bit different (which is on the same battlenet account as my copy of SC2) as I really don’t want that option.

        I wouldn’t want anyone else who knew my account name to be able to log in (especially with the battlenet account silliness using my email address rather than a username I’d made specifically for the WOW account and only for the WOW account) just as much as I wouldn’t want anyone else using my PC to log into my account (not that I let people use it very often but there have been times where I’ve let a friend stay in my place and use my pc if I’ve been away or something).

        Whether they made the option to automatically log in related to the client or the server side (under account management) there will probably be situations where people get caught out as a result of it- whether it’s kids, siblings, girlfriend, flatmates, whatever… (not sure which would be more destructive to your account).

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          Funny thing about auto-remember password – I ALWAYS disable it. Except on Twitter – on my personal mobile device, which is set to lockout every 5 minutes of inactivity.

          While I’ve never played SCII or Minecraft, I’d say this – I’d rather login every time than run the risk of someone logging in to my computer at home and trashing my SCII ranking or Minecraft items/world (If I was playing “Hardcore mode”, I’d really hate to have to delete a world because someone else logged in and got my character killed.). Serious business, this is.

        • Sumanai says:

          Correct me if I got this wrong, but from what I understood you’d rather not have the option of the software remembering your password, unless you need that option? So for your instance, it’s good that SC2 doesn’t have the option, because you wouldn’t use it?

  19. zob says:

    Will the public ever draw a line

    When IW forced people to use their servers for MW2 people created dedicated servers and a way to access them, bypassing IW security.

    When ubisoft tried a new DRM for Assassins Creed 2 paying customers knowingly installed programs to their computers to provide crackers checksums providing means to crack the game. I think that line is drawn for a long time in a very bad way.

    • burningdragoon says:

      Sadly that line sends the wrong message, and line drawing is all about the message. It’s a very selfish line to draw.

      boycott message: We don’t want your game because of [something]

      cracking message: We want your game, don’t want to follow the rules, and your security sucks.

      • zob says:

        While I do understand your point and kinda agree(piracy is wrong, simple), you are wrong. Those people I pointed out did buy the game.

        And about selfishness issue. It’s not art for arts sake anymore, it’s a giant industry. They got to be selfish and we don’t? Personally they could go bankrupt and die of starvation and I couldn’t care less.

        • burningdragoon says:

          Seems like I didn’t make myself as clear as possible (it happens quite a bit >.<)

          Anyway, I was refering to the people who do buy the game and still crack it or hack it or whatever it. I don't think the overall message changes if the consumer pays though.

          On selfishness, basically I meant if you send that second message than you aren't helping the situation (in terms of message sending at least). Unless every single pirate or paying hacker personally sends an email explaining why they are doing so (because I'll admit there are some 'understandable' reasons to do so) then the publishers are going to assume more drm/less freedom is the correct response.

          If enough people refused to buy games with dumb, unreasonable, unfair security systems the publishers/developers would have to change or they would crash and burn.

        • Sumanai says:

          I would like to point out that part of what they did wrong was buying the game. What they should’ve done was to 1. not buy for any platform and 2. not do any piracy-stuff (including playing the game). Possibly 3. mail the publisher and developer why they did so.

          After all, why should Activision and Ubisoft care that they cracked their versions of the games? They already paid for them. Clearly the DRM worked fine, since it didn’t hurt the sales.

      • ehlijen says:

        Agreed. The consumers need to demonstrate to the publishers that they can live without their games in order to get the publisher to woo them into playing with enjoyable features and trust. They should be doing their damndest to fight for the player’s affection (a lesson Valve has gotten good marks in for exapmle), not try and scare them off with declarations of dislike (pirates exist, therefore you must suffer!).

        Currently they get the message: “We WILL play your game, illegally if we can, legally if you make us, but we will.” With a demonstration of greed like that on the consumer’s side, it’s not hard to see where the idea that every pirated game = a lost sale comes from.

      • Nathon says:

        I’ve been sending out the boycott message for a long time on a lot of games, but it’s more like this: “I want your game. I want to pay you for it. But you won’t let me have it if I pay you for it so I won’t play it.”

        Unfortunately, game developers don’t care what I say.

        • Peachfuzz says:

          The problem with the boycott message is that game developers and/or publishers seem to hear something different than what their customers are saying.

          What the customer says: “I don’t like jumping through hoops every time I install the game and then jumping through more hoops every time I start it up, and putting up with intrusive DRM that installs hidden processes and messes with my registry, all for a product that won’t work until I patch the game manually, reinstall some drivers, and follow 14 other steps in a post on a tech support forum.”

          What the publisher hears: “Nobody wants to buy PC games any more. We should only make games for consoles. Witcher what? Minecraft who?”

          • Alexander The 1st says:

            Well, to be fair, consoles have a much lower rate of piracy than the PC market (Nintendo probably has the lowest rate of on-console piracy [Still admittedly some] history than anyone, although the NDS proved that was really more a matter of hardware DRM than anything else.)

            So ““I don’t like jumping through hoops every time I install the game and then jumping through more hoops every time I start it up, and putting up with intrusive DRM that installs hidden processes and messes with my registry, all for a product that won’t work until I patch the game manually, reinstall some drivers, and follow 14 other steps in a post on a tech support forum.”” is just to developers, is really just bloated English that to developers might as well just be translated to German as “We should only make games for consoles.

  20. X2-Eliah says:

    You have no idea how happy I am that I am not interested in Diablo 3 and don’t intend to play it anyway.

    I mean, if this was deus ex:HR, or skyrim, or some other game I actually wanted to play, I’d be quite extremely pissed about this bullcrap. But now… Eh, another dumb hack’n’slasher dungeon-item-crawler, I can easily deal with never getting that.

    As for drawing the line.. You care. I care. People like idk, psivamp or Josh care. The thing is, the stereotype gamer, who picks his games off of store shelves and mostly plays the latest madden / nfl / fifa games first and foremost, he does not care. He doesn’t even know of all this, he’ll just look at the pretty cover, recall that diablo was good (he heard a while ago) and buy it. And people like you or me can rage, or despair, or just shake angry internet man fists at the companies, but they don’t care. Majority market rules.

    • Exactly. To all of the points.

    • some random dood says:

      According to a games mag I read, the new Deus Ex is to feature in-game advertising on bill-boards. It didn’t make it clear whether this is a one-time deal (where the companies buying space get them on install, and they don’t change), or a “feature” with updating bill-boards – which may imply on-line connection required. So if you feel strongly about having to have an on-line connection for a single player game, may want to check on that before dropping the folding.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        Yep, I read that too. Not too psyched on it, as well as that it is a steamworks game, but I trust the billboard-updates, if any, will happen at best on loading the game up, not while playing.. I really, really hope it’s not while playing :(

        • MintSkittle says:

          I just looked at the steam store page, and the system requirements DO NOT list and internet connection, constant or otherwise. I would guesstimate that meaning no always-on DRM, but we’ll have to wait til it’s officially released before we know the whole story.

          http://store.steampowered.com/app/28050/

          EDIT: I would guess that this also means the in game ads are not streamed.

      • Gravebound says:

        The game should be free then (hahaha….). That is like buying a DVD set and having them add commercials back into the shows. :(

        addendum: death to everyone who adds unskippable ANYTHING before DVDs/ video games/etc. All it accomplishes is making me despise you and wish failure upon your products.

      • potemkin.hr says:

        That’s not a new idea. If I remember correctly, in Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory there were dynamic ads which would change over time(truck sides, posters, TV/monitor screens, magazines). All this already in 2005.

  21. Zekiel says:

    I’m inclined to say that whether a game succeeds or not is tied pretty strongly to what the marketing budget of the title is. If a game gets plastered all over the internet for weeks/months, gets big displays in your local game store, and gets 9-point reviews, then people will buy it. That is all fully independent of what DRM the game has (since most review sites still don’t seem to address that). The fact is that effective marketing makes people feel they need to play a game, and the last-minute announcement of horrible DRM typically doesn’t do enough to counteract that.

    And I’m not coming from a position of moral superiority here – I too feel that siren call of the next “must-have” game. For me I’ve made the decision is pretty much never buy games new (since waiting for a year provides better value for money, more patches and even occasionally less DRM), but I’m ashamed to say that I’m not very good at taking a principled stand and not buying a game just because it has unhelpful DRM.

    Having said that I wasn’t planning on buying Diablo 3 anyway… but I am deeply sad that the Blizzard I once loved is forging boldly ahead down the trail that Ubisoft has blazed.

  22. Haddron says:

    Darkspore did exactly the same thing, for the same (stated) reasons. It requires an internet connection for single player, and ties those characters in with multiplayer.

    The reviews I saw ignored that, and mostly focused on co-op play anyway… so I don’t think they cared one way or the other.

    Too bad, it otherwise looked pretty fun, but I lost interest in it after that.

  23. Piflik says:

    Well…I haven’t bought a PC game for years…actually since Spore came out (didn’t buy that either)…stupid DRMs…thankfully I have a console to play and still own games…

    • utzel says:

      Sadly the consoles are not safe either. I read that when Sonys online service was down some Capcom games could not be played, because they use always-on-DRM. Can someone confirm that?
      The Sony hack showed that these systems are just an additional point of failure. Will it happen to Xbox or Steam too? It could happen, maybe it’s just a matter of time. Steam already locked me out of playing often enough.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        That was for downloadable games, which are a special case – there’s no disc check.

        But let’s compare apples to apples here. AC2 on PS3 doesn’t have DRM, AC2 on PC does.

  24. Herrsunk says:

    Another game that has realised that gaming is not about having a fun experience; it’s about limiting that experience, utmost control and getting the best items.

    Greatly appreciated Blizzard. Have fun with that. I’ll just go and start another game in Dwarf Fortress while you muck in the dirt.

  25. Sigh…

    I’m probably going to get and play it anyway because, at the end of the day, I really want to play the games Blizzard makes and I hate console controls so I’ll never switch to them even if it becomes an option.

    I hate stuff like this because I mostly play games alone to unwind, with the occasional multi-player experience – but mostly single player.

    Starcraft 2 did let you play offline, it just didn’t save your achievements, FYI. So it was mildly irritating DRM rather than some of the worse offenders (I’m looking at you, Ubisoft)

  26. SolkaTruesilver says:

    On a side-note, Shamus. Here’s what written in the post counter:

    “36 comments. It’s getting crowded in here. ”

    I was like, “36 posts only? This post must be recent”

    Maybe you should consider re-writing these little comments you designed before you became a bona-fide internet celebrity :-)

  27. Lochiel says:

    So, is now a good time to mention Torchlight? While it is single player, the upcoming Torchlight 2 will be multiplayer. And it goes without saying that they both support offline play and encourage modding.

    • Liudvikas says:

      I am actually more interested in Torchlight 2 than Diablo 3. Developers sound like they actually like making games and so they chose that as their job. While current blizzard just seems like an attempt to take all my money.
      I already have my money ready to buy it when it’s released, but I’m still undecided about diablo3. Strange considering my best coop experience was with diablo2.

      • Michael says:

        It’s funny you would say that, because the co-founders of Runic Games?

        Yeah, they founded Blizzard North. Who, as you know, made the Diablo Series.

      • lupis42 says:

        I loved Diablo II, and therefore I expect to love Torchlight II and be disinterested in Diablo III.

        Bobby Kotick really has a gift for fucking up, doesn’t he? I can’t help but notice that Runic Games was founded around the same time Activision bought Blizzard.

  28. Ace Calhoon says:

    “It’s either a lie, an insult, or both.”

    I… Don’t think so. Way back in the day, I got tripped up by the single player/open multiplayer/Battle.net separation in Diablo II. It isn’t something that makes sense, unless you know a great deal of the background. So the user experience issue is definitely there.

    Let’s not forget that simplification is the key to making useful software. Preventing users from making bad decisions isn’t an insult… It’s what user interface design is all about.

    The question ultimately becomes: How many people legitimately use the single player option, compared to how many people are confused by it. Mix in that Blizzard actively wants to push multiplayer for more benign reasons, such as padding the hours consumed by the game (which is something that gets talked about a lot lately).

    Of course, it *could* be an excuse to cover nearly Ubisoft-style DRM. It could be a lie, but I don’t really think the alternative is insult.

    • On character creation:
      >Create Offline character [insert details here]
      >Create Online Character [insert details here]

      Or we could assume preventing users from making decisions is the purpose of interface design (spoiler: it’s not, designing an understandable GUI is not the same as designing one without options).

      • Ace Calhoon says:

        So, there are three basic users of the single player campaign:

        1. People unable to play online (on a laptop, no access to reliable or stable broadband Internet).

        2. People able to play online, but who will never create a multiplayer character.

        3. People who are playing single player now, but who will eventually play multiplayer.

        For the third class of people, having the ability to create offline characters is a trap… It’s a strictly inferior option. For the second class of people, offline character creation is irrelevant. For the first class of people it’s essential.

        So the question is… How big is the third group of people compared to the first?

        • Sagretti says:

          There’s a simple solution: When someone goes to create an offline single player character, put up a giant box with huge red letters stating “You will never be able to play online with this character, including multiplayer. Are you sure you want to create this character?”

          At that point, if they still don’t understand, then I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing group 1 for those that would still be confused.

          • Ace Calhoon says:

            Certainly, you could. But you would still have to deal with people who changed their minds, people who are in a hurry, people who click through without reading, people who assume online means multiplayer (and that they MUST create an offline character to play alone), and so on. You are welcome to brush them off as morons, but I wouldn’t particularly recommend it as a business decision.

            The question remains, as ever, how many people are in group one? Enough to be worth increased complexity in the codebase?

            Maybe. I’m not saying it isn’t. I’m simply saying that I can see why Blizzard could make this decision in a non-evil way. It may be the wrong decision… And that saying the decision is either a lie or an insult is pretty hyperbolic.

            • Sagretti says:

              I’m not sure if you saw my reply before I edited it, but I removed the more inflammatory language, as I had a momentary lapse in judgement. It’s simply a very frustrating issue for me, as I am in a category that you didn’t list: People with internet access who still want to play offline, and will not be buying the game if that isn’t an option. Thus, I dislike the idea that I’m being eliminated as a customer because of some customers’ confusion.

              • Ace Calhoon says:

                At that point, the question becomes “why do you want to play offline?” Is it an arbitrary decision on your part, or is there some way in which the online version doesn’t serve you?

                • Vipermagi says:

                  Lag, disconnects, server maintenance, client side internet failure, and Blizzard can shut down eventually. Heck, even simply the desire to not be online.

                  • Ace Calhoon says:

                    These aren’t very strong arguments, because they are strictly hypothetical. StarCraft II’s online-only single-player (which had much less utility than such a mode in Diablo) played on my consumer Internet connection without lag, drop-outs, or server maintenance (during the times I was playing it). Internet outages were not an issue, and if they regularly ARE an issue for you, then you fall into camp one (you do not have a reliable Internet connection).

                    • StranaMente says:

                      “Lag, disconnects, server maintenance […] and Blizzard can shut down eventually”
                      These are not hypothetical. As I played hundreds of hours on on line games (of every kind) I can assure you these happen regularly.
                      Even the simple weekly mandatory server maintenance.
                      And playing on SC2 I can assure it happened quite often to me that I couldn’t even play sp because it wouldn’t log in in Battle.net (and my connection was good).
                      Why do we have to wait them to play in sp?

                    • Vipermagi says:

                      I do not see why frequency of internet outages have to do with anything. My internet can drop at any time, for any number of reasons, without my ability to intervene. That does not mean it actually happens frequently. Outages are outages.

                      The way I read the D3 “SP” working is that you just host a passworded game on BNet, like you’d do in D2. I.e. you’d always be hosting a game on BNet.
                      Whether this is true or not remains to be seen.

                      Blizzard going bankrupt is not a hypothetical. Nothing lasts forever. It would only be hypothetical if I said “before I lose interest” or “before I die”.

                    • Sagretti says:

                      There is a large difference with Diablo III’s single player, however. Starcraft’s only “phoned home” to submit achievements and occasional information, but problems with the connection did not directly affect gameplay. Diablo hosts the game on a server, not locally on the player’s computer. Therefore, whenever Blizzard goes down for maintenance, something that does happen regularly, the game becomes impossible to play. At least with Starcraft II you could still play in some way, but Diablo III sounds to be about as accessible as World of Warcraft when it’s down for maintenance or issues, which is to say, not at all.

                    • Ace Calhoon says:

                      Above…

                      Frequency of downtime is, absolutely, a factor to be considered when making design decisions. However, the Internet is not the only potential source of outages.

                      My hard drive could fail during play. Should Diablo run exclusively from memory?

                      My AV software could interfere (and actually has in the past) with gameplay, resulting in lag or termination of the game. Should Diablo hunt down and kill all antiviral processes on my machine?

                      My operating system could fail. Should Diablo require booting into its own private OS to play?

                      Again, the point of this post is not to state that this is, necessarily, the right decision. Only to show that this decision could be made in good faith. Making vague assertions that the Internet connection might, in some instances, sometimes, hiccup, is not enough to clearly show that the developers are liars out to get you.

                      And while Diablo is not StarCraft, it also is not WoW. It does not have a persistent, shared, world, and is therefore able to avoid many of the pitfalls inherent to that genre.

                    • StranaMente says:

                      “My hard drive could fail during play. Should Diablo run exclusively from memory?

                      My AV software could interfere (and actually has in the past) with gameplay, resulting in lag or termination of the game. Should Diablo hunt down and kill all antiviral processes on my machine?

                      My operating system could fail. Should Diablo require booting into its own private OS to play?”

                      There’s a difference between “Oh my god and if an asteroid hits I want be able to play again Diablo, why didn’t they thought about that!” and “You will play your game when we will let you and only the way we want you to, and IF both our connection to internet work, unless is weekly scheduled mandatory maintenance time or else”, you know that, don’t you?

                      What I’m saying is that you should implement a system that is less prone to fail, instead of one that adds layer of problems.

                    • Ace Calhoon says:

                      @StranaMente

                      The distinction here is that features are added in exchange for the additional chance of failure. Assassin’s Creed, for example, provides no additional functionality in exchange for the ever-present Internet connection. Diablo adds a new feature: the ability to take your character from single-player to multi-player and vice versa.

                      Just as Diablo III will accept the failing of its host OS in order to allow for the use of standardized APIs and the ability to play nicely with other applications, so to is there a tradeoff between being able to maintain the same character across single- and multi-player.

                      I am not saying that Blizzard is making the right decision in this regard. The ownership argument in particular is a compelling one.

                      I am simply saying that I do see a decision that could have been made in good faith in this instance. Saying that Blizzard is an incompetent liar simply because they made the decision contrary to how you would is not useful… It will not change their minds, nor anyone else’s.

                      Even if you wish to refute the decision Blizzard made directly (something which is useful), saying that the Internet can fail is not compelling. You need to show that it fails a *lot*. Will there be weekly maintenance? Will it take a full day? That sort of thing can fuel your argument. But assuming there *will* be such things as givens only weakens what you have to say.

                    • Vipermagi says:

                      “The distinction here is that features are added in exchange for the additional chance of failure. […] Diablo adds a new feature: the ability to take your character from single-player to multi-player and vice versa.”

                      There are no SP characters. Every character is on the realm (can be edited when client-side); single-player is just a BNet game with one player.

                      re hardware failures: Single player never required an internet connection (for obvious reasons; you’re the only one playing, why should a server be aware you are). It is taken for granted that you’d have to install or load the game somehow, though.
                      Additionally, a malfunctioning hard drive is entirely client-side. A failing internet connection can also be server-side, which is in the hands of Blizzard, or worse, a third party.

                      I am not calling Blizzard a liar, btw. I just find there’s no SP, and that has serious downsides.

                    • pinchy says:

                      A slow connection and Blizzards history of releasing large and compulsory patches maybe?

                      That also leaves aside hardcore mode where a bit of lag will permanently kill one of your characters at some stage and it will be completely and utterly outside of your control. Permadeath because you made a mistake is fine- permadeath cause of server lag is completely unacceptable and something that can’t happen in offline mode (and even if your system suffered some sort of crippling slowdown if you reset your pc you should kill the game before your character gets taken out- if it’s running off a server it can take a minute or two for Blizzard to disconnect you during which time you will almost certainly die).

                • Sagretti says:

                  Reasons I want offline single player (this is probably not complete, and I apologize it’s a wall of text, but I wanted to get everything I could think of at the moment):

                  1. The PAUSE button: Not just the ability to pause, but overall being able to pause, quit, stop the game at a moment’s notice. Being a very busy person with a fiance, there are times I have to stop playing a game at the drop of a hat, or need to stop playing briefly to listen to my other half. Even if the online single player lets you pause the game, there’s still the problem of the servers taking a while to catch up and forcing you through some log-out process.

                  2. No dealing with server lag: Nathon above mentioned his hardcore character dying due to server lag, and similarly, I just don’t want to have to deal with unnecessary deaths because the connection goes pear shaped for a moment.

                  3. Ability to play no matter where I go: I often am forced into situations where I have my laptop, but don’t have access to internet or have a bad connection. I’d like to be able to play my game in those places.

                  4. Assurance of access: Online games go down for maintenance, often weekly, sometimes unplanned. I don’t want my access to the game removed because the servers are not accessible, even though I’m playing a part of the game that shouldn’t require playing on a server.

                  Similarly, if down the road the game rapidly loses popularity, or Blizzard goes under, or the next sequel gains support over it, I’d like to know I can still play the game.

                  5. Privacy: Currently, Battle.net does not provide a way to hide yourself while playing games. I know at least a few people that will play Diablo III, and I’m sure I’d meet some people I’d “friend” online. I want to be able to play without those people bothering me or constantly being able to tell what I’m doing.

                  6. Less Hassle: Playing offline, I load the game, start playing, done. Online play means I have to input my password, authenticate sometimes, and then wait for the servers to let me start playing.

                  I’m sure I could come up with some more reasons, but I think those are enough to show I’m not just being petty here. Also, this is ignoring the other issues, like the Auction system, which I think opens up a whole messy can of worms with which Blizzard isn’t prepared to handle.

                  • Ace Calhoon says:

                    These are somewhat stronger arguments, although many are still hypothetical (pause is implementable in an online game; the question is whether or not it IS implemented).

                    Getting back to the point of my post, however: Are these features SO necessary, and SO fundamental that you don’t believe that a designer could make this choice in good conscience? Do you believe that the choice honestly means that Blizzard is either lying to or insulting its customers?

                    • The Naked Emperor says:

                      Yes, because it’s the removal of freedom for no good reason. If someone just clicks through a box telling them “this character can never go online” then it is their issue, it is their choice, and my ability to play the game as I want to shouldn’t be effected. That isn’t going to lose them any customers but what they are doing will.

                    • utzel says:

                      So you are willing to sacrifice all this, just because something like

                      -Singleplayer
                      --Online available
                      --only Offline (maybe smaller print)
                      ---Huge warning
                      -Multiplayer

                      would be too much work to implement and there could be some people that still don’t understand?
                      What about the “Delete Character” button, that I predict will be in the game? How large is the number of people that are in a hurry or otherwise confused and click that AND the confirmation button? Should we remove this option completely to cater to them?

                      This is a huge argument about what should be a non-issue.

                    • Ace Calhoon says:

                      There is a very specific reason: to allow people to move freely between online and offline mode. You can dismiss people who click through the box, or who change their minds, but I doubt that many high-profile game companies will.

                      Regarding freedom — You could just as easily argue that they should continue to support the Direct Cable multiplayer mode, on the basis that it provides users freedom. Or perhaps Open Battle.Net is now a requirement? “Freedom” isn’t a valid argument unless it furthers the goals of the game.

                      That isn’t going to lose them any customers but what they are doing will.

                      If number of sales was the sole factor behind game design, I would expect Blizzard to make a few more brown shooters than they currently do.

                      Again — It is certainly reasonable to feel that Blizzard is wrong in this choice. But to assume that they are lying in this instance is premature. There is clear evidence of tradeoffs that could have been considered here.

                    • Ace Calhoon says:

                      @Utzel

                      There is also the issue of a split code-base (single player code will need to be written and maintained), but yes. That seems like a reasonable design choice to me. Channel people into the features you want them to use, and eliminate features that don’t support the game as you intend it.

                      There’s something to be said there about a sandbox vs. a curated experience, but typically curated games perform better than those that are not. Consider Half-Life 2, as opposed to the level editor in Little Big Planet. The one of these with more freedom is not the one that is likely to be a better game.

                      As to deleted characters… I’m going to guess that there is going to be a recovery process if that option exists. At any rate, I can guarantee that there will be a support cost involved on Blizzard’s part.

                      Deleting characters is also essential if a character cap is imposed. There’s simply no way to get around it.

                  • Mertseger says:

                    Actually, the lack of a PAUSE feature is probably the most upsetting thing about today’s news for me. I am growing more fond of SP gaming within MMO’s, and essentially, DIII will now be an online game. But the real price of being an online game is that inability to pause. Just wait until your having a fiance progresses to the married and having a kid phase (if that’s where life takes you). You just started a battle and the baby starts crying. DII: pause and change the diaper. DIII: you have to choose, and you should choose the diaper, but some some people won’t. In any case, the game experience is fundamentally worse for every parent who faces that situation. Online gaming is making us all into Clara from The Guild.

                    • Alexander The 1st says:

                      If you’re having issues letting a character die in a game because you need to change your kids diaper, there may be a larger issue at hand. Just a simple disconnect. Log out, and if you get killed in that small time period, ask Blizzard to restore your character.

                      Off topic: this would make a VERY interesting moral choice in a Bioware game: Do you change your child’s diaper and only get to save either Kaiden/Ashley, or do you let your kid cry for a while, and save both Kaiden/Ashley?

                      …It’s possible, you never know.

                • Gravebound says:

                  I seem to be reading your comments as “Why if you have the internet do you not want it on at all times?”, or some variation of such.

                  Do you live in a house/ apartment and just leave the front door unlocked and open at all times?

                  What if the internet gets cut off? Or you have to cancel it for monetary reasons? Or the company just doesn’t feel like supporting it anymore? No game for you, then. Well, I can still play Diablo 1 in those cases (the only one worth playing, in my opinion). Being the one who spent the money, you should never be the one jumping through hoops to please the company, they should be jumping through hoops to please you.

                  I also am amused by your number 3. So people can start offline then play online and it is such a glorious, eye-opening experience that they swear off single player forever. To me, and people like me, online is the inferior option. 90% of ALL people are jackasses that I don’t want to deal with (I may be low-balling that number). I only want to game with people I know, in the same room if possible.

                  • Ace Calhoon says:

                    Do I leave my door unlocked? No. Nor do I leave my Internet unlocked… I run firewall and anti-virus software, and have passwords and encryption on all wireless channels. This is not an impregnable fortress… By dint of leaving my Internet connection active, hackers CAN access my system.

                    However, my house isn’t impregnable either, because I have glass windows. Just as I allow the security risk of glass windows, so too do I allow the security risk of not disconnecting my Internet. Neither glass windows nor persistent Internet connections are unusual security choices for the average consumer.

                    As to people who, for various reasons, cannot connect to the ‘net, I accounted for them above. The question when dealing with hardware limitations is always a trade off between features and audience. Only the ownership issue is really a contender here.

                    On multiplayer — You are greatly misinterpreting what I said. Since Diablo I, multiplayer has been a key part of the path of the game. Not strictly with the faceless hordes or the Internet, but cooperatively with my friends.

                    What happens when my buddy says “Hey, this Diablo game is pretty fun, want to try some co-op?” is a user experience issue. Blizzard is trying to go the route of simplifying this process. This is the situation they’re trying to avoid:

                    “Hey buddy, let’s play some Diablo!”
                    “Sure thing, let me load up my Barbarian!”
                    “Umm… Where are you?”
                    “Battle.Net.”
                    “I don’t see you.”
                    “*Open* Battle.Net.”
                    “Oh… I’m on normal Battle.Net. That’s where my Sorceress is.”
                    “Want to start all over from the very beginning, so you can play with me, but none of your other friends?”

                    Of course, the bigger question is… If you haven’t liked the series in fifteen years, why do you care about this detail of the newest game? Is *this* really the one thing you don’t like about it? And is it really so impossible to see this as anything other than an insult or a lie?

            • some random dood says:

              As a person falling into category 2, which you seem to think can be brushed away arbitrarily, I think I am completely justified in saying that category 1 users who are too [expletive] dumb to read the warnings on not being able to take a character created offline to online games later can be completely ignored.

              • Ace Calhoon says:

                The question becomes, is this an arbitrary decision on your part? Or is there a reason why you want this additional feature? If there is a reason you want the feature, you will get much further by making your case for the feature than you will by insulting other players.

                • some random dood says:

                  Simple – pretty much the same reason Shamus has. If I want to play a single-player game, I do NOT want it needing an internet connection. Ever.
                  Regarding my attitude to you – it simply came from my reading your dismissal of people like me with the phrase “For the second class of people, offline character creation is irrelevant” as “Sod them – *my* needs are more important”, so just decided to vent in the “fun” way that the internet allows…
                  So let’s make it simple – single player games should *not* require an internet connection to make characters/play game/update their in-game advertising/whatever. Yes, I *am* old. Yes, I *am* a miserable obstinate old git. No, I *really* do not like where the game industry is going with their DRM. Now get offa my lawn!

                  • Ace Calhoon says:

                    I was more responding to your categorization of anyone who chose incorrectly on the offline/online choice. Which I suppose includes me, although I don’t really identify with that group… It was well over a third of my lifetime ago.

                    Certainly, it is possible that there is a subset of people who will exclusively play offline, now and forever. But Diablo is no Assassin’s Creed, or even StarCraft. The game has focused heavily on multiplayer since at least 2000 (the original Diablo had a couple single-player only elements, so we won’t include that).

                    What you are proposing, then, is the inclusion of another category: People who will *never* play online, who have stable Internet connections, and who object to being forced to play a single-player version of a multiplayer game offline. Fair enough.

                    This seems to me, however, to be a fairly minor nitpick to my argument. Whether there are four categories or three, a great many people fall into the categories where this doesn’t matter.

                    I *do* think it’s fair not to buy the game for this reason (they are simply not providing the game you want to play)… But I don’t think that it’s grounds for calling names.

                    • some random dood says:

                      Well, I am a crotchety old git, and as you are basically saying that game companies no longer need to bother making games for me, expect a crotchety response!
                      That what you say appears to be true, and that major publishers no longer seem to care about taking my money just makes me even more irritable.
                      Maybe I over-reacted – but when you go out and basically dismiss a group of people as being unimportant, expect the occasional bitch-slapping.

                    • Ace Calhoon says:

                      @Some random dood

                      ou are basically saying that game companies no longer need to bother making games for me

                      That is not what I said. I stated that you did not appear to like previous games in this series. I find it unlikely that Diablo III will be more similar to Diablo I than Diablo II. I certainly hope that other developers, and other series, appeal to your interests.

                      A corollary: I do not like racing games. It would be foolish of me to criticize an upcoming racing game on the basis that it didn’t appeal to me… But that doesn’t mean that I don’t expect other companies to create the games that I *do* like.

                  • X2-Eliah says:

                    Diablo 3 is not a singleplayer game. It’s a multiplayer game with a legacy single-player mode, that’s all.

                    And I don’t like it any more than you do, but it’s the way the industry is moving.

                    • some random dood says:

                      Don’t fully agree with you. I think it is still a single player/multi-player thing like Diablo 1 and 2 are, but this is being used as a sneaky way to force a draconian DRM scheme. However, I do fully agree that this is the way that the industry is going, and also why they are getting less and less of my money. Shame – I enjoyed D1 and D2, not going to bother with D3.

                    • Ace Calhoon says:

                      @some random dood

                      While the current fixation of the industry on single-/multi- player hybrids IS troubling, this is not new ground for the Diablo series:

                      -Diablo I launched Battle.Net, one of the first services of its kind.

                      -Diablo II made single and multiplayer almost interchangeable (only available characters differed), worked on the intricacies of hot-joining and scaling enemies.

                      While I’m uncomfortable with hybrids taking over the entirety of the industry, I’m not against them entirely. And Diablo has always been a hybrid. The intention has always been that you can jump into this rich campaign with a group of friends.

          • Will says:

            Blizzard’s recent history has been trending towards the Apple approach of ‘remove all bad choices so that all choices are good choices’ as opposed to the more Microsoft approach of ‘label the bad choices as bad, since they might not always be bad under all conditions.’

            Whether or not this is good or bad depends on the user, but it’s not very surprising they’ve elected to remove the potential for the bad choice to exist given their attitude towards their recent games. World of Warcraft being the clearest example.

            • Varil says:

              …whoa. When did Microsoft become the good guy? I-…I need to go lie down.

              On topic : Not likely to buy D3 now, at least not until it’s old enough to come in a pack with an expansion at reduced price. gg, Blizzard.

              • Alexander The 1st says:

                Re: Microsoft – have you seen Win7, IE9, or WP7? Microsoft may have had a bad past, but they’ve gotten better over time, I think, at least.

                And consider that although Windows includes IE by default, they did allow Netscape to run on their system. The just didn’t do any of their marketing for them.

                …Now consider Apple’s stance against Flash on iOS.

    • Ace Calhoon says:

      One addition, that I think is important —

      If you really want your arguments to have the maximum impact (assuming that words on the Internet can have an impact at all), then be careful of your arguments.

      Saying “it would be easy to include this!” is unlikely to change anyone’s mind, because there are a great many things that are easy to include that would be terrible ideas. That something is easy is not justification to include it.

      Saying that the people who make the decision are evil, or liars, or jerks, will simply shut down the argument. If they are evil, liars, or jerks, they aren’t going to change their mind. And if they made the change in good faith, they are unlikely to listen to someone who thinks that they are evil, lying, jerks.

      Focus, instead, on why you want this feature that seems so useless at first glance (and I believe that there are a few posts here that make their case). You might not convince Blizzard… It might be too late to change, or they might be evil liars, but you may actually convince the next company over.

  29. Luvian says:

    I didn’t read all the comments so sorry if this was mentioned before. But what they are saying make no sense.

    It might be a couple of years since I played Diablo but I distinctly remember of “open battle.net” an “closed battle.net”. Open was exactly for single players characters going online, and closed was for characters made online. That seemed like a good way to handle it. I’m guessing this online only thing is really about piracy. And the micro transactions.

    • Roi Danton says:

      You are right. But that is not the point. You see, I like to play my games in single player mode. I love playing SP games and I completed Diablo 2 three or four times in SP in addition to a few LAN matches. I don’t care about online multiplayer at all with only a few exceptions (mostly CO-OP with my friends). Oh, and I like cheats in my SP games. I really do. I like run around in god-mode and with unlimited ammunition and murder all people with my puny starter pistol. And I like to have unlimited money in Civ and outspend every AI player, etc. And I like stupid mods that make games more fun. And I do like playing games even when I don’t have an internet connection. And none of those things are possible with DRM/online modes like that.

      So, no D3 for me. I’ll be spending those 50€ in the Pub,that seems more reasonable.

  30. Tom Wilson says:

    Their argument also assumes that players will only ever want to create one character. Unless the inability to make multiple characters is a “feature” I’ve missed.

  31. F0nz13 says:

    It’s an annoying case of the Camel’s Nose. If all of these restrictive features had been piled in over the course of a week, there might just be a bit more uproar. However this has been somewhat slower.

    Honestly, I stopped caring about the PC market the moment everything went onto Steam. It’s not that I don’t like steam, it’s that I want the steps between ‘buy game’ and ‘play game’ to be as few as possible. Every step companies have taken since then has only been a tonic towards hardening my resolve.

    For example. I bought a copy of Shogun 2 Total War the other day (it is the only PC game series I have held any loyalty to over the years and I have no idea why). I had the discs, I’m pretty sure the content was all on there, and yet I had to sit down for 10 HOURS waiting for it to do whatever it wanted to do, that is, play the game. It’s an okay game, but that time before really soured me and my wallet to Creative Assembly from now on.

    I’ve just found it harder to justify my £40 (in in stupid cases £50) over the last year or so. Dev teams seem to be releasing more and more huge games that are quite simply dull or terrible. Others release games without half the code it seems (the buggy messes that they are). Constant experiences of betrayal from games has now built up a wall of cynicism that only Open World games can now penetrate.

    This is somewhat why I stay as a console gamer. This way, only Sony can mess with me in any major way, and I can play my singleplayer offline.

    I’m really beginning to hate some of the industry that I loved :(

    • Nick says:

      To be fair to Steam, it actually DOES reduce the amount of time for to get a game in a lot of cases, because it’s well implemented and I can download immediately rather than having to amazon it.

      Occasionally some games there do have their own DRM as well and that is incredibly annoying, but Steam is certainly the lesser of evils. Especially with cloud saves, reinstall forever and the silly sales

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        I’m reminded of the fact that as soon as SCII was ready for download, the people downloading it had to wait for it to finish downloading.

        When I get a CD of a game, it’s because I want to play it right now, release date or otherwise.

  32. Mathygard says:

    I guess this saves me the 50€ I would have shelled out for it, at least. What the hell has happened at blizzard, lately. Back in the Diablo1/2 and starcraft days I would consider Blizzard as one of the more grounded developers. Has the entire damned company gone clinically insane these days?
    I would just shrug if this was some smaller title, but fucking Diablo3?! This is a huge title, with a huge amount of work and expectations behind it. The higher expectation are the more you’ll lose when you piss on them. Makes sense to me that you’d want a title like this to generate as little controversy as possible, but apparently blizzard, in their infinite wisdom, thinks differently. It’s like poisoning the goose that laid golden eggs.
    Edit: Just for the record, I don’t doubt that D3 will sell very well, but I’m sure it could sell even better if it didn’t piss off some of its potential customers. That’s what makes this seem especially dumb to me.

    • Nick Bell says:

      World of Warcraft happened. Blizzard became the single most profitable developer in the world, based entirely on an online-only model. That has got to influence the business decisions. If it worked for Warcraft, why not Starcraft and Diablo?

      So they installed an online-focused DRM scheme into Starcraft 2. Despite this, the game got great buzz from both consumers and press. It dominated the online video game community, with a huge amount of positive buzz. People treat it’s online requirements just like they do WoWs – just part of the price of admission.

      Blizzard saw this not as poisoning the golden goose, but by turning an old franchise into a NEW golden goose. Different than the WoW, but obviously successful.

      Now, since it worked with WoW AND Starcraft, there is no way they are backing down from doing it with Diablo 3.

      • Mathygard says:

        I get that they’d go with what works, and it very obviously does work. What I don’t get is why they’d limit it to just that group. Surely it would make better sense to try to reach new players as well, rather than pander only to the people who are already in their pocket. Fans of Blizzard’s current model are going to buy it anyway, so why not try to draw in someone new?
        Although I suppose in a way this could a good thing. If Blizzard does decide to abandon the single player market entirely, which it pretty much looks like they are doing at this point, it might allow something new to grow in its place. Probably just wishful thinking, though.

        • Alexander The 1st says:

          Thing is, by using the always-online model, they have a much easier way of saying “So, when we release this game, it WILL sell like bottled water in the Sahara, with no chance of people just all pirating it.”

          They can get more investment money, which can be spent on other parts of the game, like extra features, better cutscenes, etc.

  33. Lintman says:

    Damn. Recently the diablo-like Darkspore came out and when I found out it forced single players online, I avoided it and thought Diablo III would show ‘em how it’s supposed to be done. Ha.

    Wow, this is a massive massive disappointment.

  34. Meredith says:

    I don’t have time to read all the comments, but I do want to say that DRM aside, it makes me sad to see yet another game put all the emphasis on multiplayer. This is a trend that really needs to die. I don’t want to be forced to play with other people, vs, co-op or mmo style, ever.

    • krellen says:

      I’ll jump on this bandwagon. Playing with friends is all well and good when you want to, and I don’t think games like Rock Band are even half as fun when played alone, but it feels more and more like single-player is just being slowly phased out altogether. I’ve always used video games as my recharge, my get-away-from-people time. Lately, it feels like the industry is trying to get rid of me, like they’re ashamed of me.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        I wouldn’t get too sad just yet. Multiplayer is the “big thing” right now so all the “cool kids” are “doing it” and my analogy just got all strange. Okay, start over.
        I’m pretty sure that multi-player and single-player will reach a good balance in the future. The fairly recent influx of “casual” and “social media” games has made multi-player popular, but it won’t last forever. Also, there are still tons of games with a single-player-only mode. Don’t lose hope my introverted fellows!

      • Bubble181 says:

        Same here.

    • RTBones says:

      I’ll add a +1 to this. I _rarely_ play multiplayer. Gaming for me is a bit of an escape, a way to unwind and recharge the batteries. I don’t have anything specifically against multiplayer, its just not my thing. Even when I played WoW, I almost always played single player.

      As to any game that requires an always on connection so it can phone home – I’ll pass, thanks. Plenty of other games out there that don’t require it.

    • Jarenth says:

      As everything has already been said, I will just add that even reaching for the ‘Random Multiplayer’ option in games causes me intense mental discomfort. Some physical discomfort, too.

      I understand why these options exist, and I don’t begrudge anyone their multiplayer gaming, but I don’t want to play games with random people because I don’t want to play games with random people.

  35. […] There are no words for what they do to Diablo 3. There are no words for this level of madness. Thankfully someone else already tried to find some so go read that, because I don’t even have the energy to complain anymore. I can’t even […]

  36. Airsoftslayer93 says:

    And everyone likes Blizzard, Im just waiting for Torchlight 2

  37. toasty says:

    I bought Starcraft II because I wanted to play Online anyways. I enjoy SCII multiplayer 10x more than Singleplayer and didn’t care that I didn’t have LAN because I live in the world of high speed internet, so that’s not a problem (welcome to college, where you have unlimited bandwith in dorms!). But this from Blizzard really hurts because I’m not that interested in Diablo III. The funny thing is, I might still buy this (if I have friends who play the game) because, again, I’d treat it as a multiplayer-only game. I’m not buying it unless I can garuntee like 3 people who will play this game with me, that’s for sure though.

    I’m really sad that Blizzard has fallen so far since the release of Warcraft III. Warcraft III was a great game, Starcraft was a great game. WoW is an evil soul-sucking grindfest and Starcraft II was poorly handled in terms of PR (I still think it was a good game, despite whatever DRMs came included, they weren’t that terrible and you could still play offline). But this seems the last straw to me. Old Blizzard died in the fires of corporate mergers and greed.

  38. Andy_Panthro says:

    Thankfully, there are alternatives available.

    There’s Crate Entertainment’s Grim Dawn (@Grim_Dawn), which is using the Titan Quest engine: http://www.grimdawn.com/

    and also there’s Runic Games’ Torchlight 2 (@RunicGames): http://www.torchlight2game.com/

    I’d definitely recommend checking these ones out. Hopefully they should both gain some extra sales from this, and they’ll both be supporting offline play, LAN play and much more.

    I’d also be interested to hear from anyone else if there are others out there worth recommending.

    • Michael says:

      As I mentioned above, it’s funny you mention Torchlight, because Runic Games was founded by the same people who founded Blizzard North.

      Blizzard North makes the Diablo series.

      As for alternatives? Try going back in time, instead of forward. Play some old games you haven’t touched in a while. I’m going through the Half Life games as we speak, and I’m planning on hitting up Morrowind after that.

      Or, you know, Dwarf Fortress. No win conditions means it lasts forever. Until you flood the fortress with lava or find HFS.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Wasn’t aware that Runic were ex-blizzard folks, gives me hope that Torchlight 2 will be better than the first (it got high praise, but there are always improvements to be made).

        I play older games and indie games almost exclusively these days, so missing out on Diablo 3 was never much of a loss. (currently have Dungeon Keeper, Half Life 2 and Crusader: No Remorse on the go)

        Other games similar to Diablo would assist those that are looking for that same fix though.

        • Michael says:

          Similar to Diablo? Ah.

          Sorry, the only other game similar to Diablo I can think of is Titan Quest.

          I’m sure more will come to me later, after I can no longer edit the post.

    • Jarenth says:

      Is that a… a futuristic gun-running version of Titan Quest?

      Diablo what? I forgot what we were talking about.

      • Andy_Panthro says:

        Some (all?) of Crate Entertainment are ex-Iron Lore people, who worked on Titan Quest, and they’ve licensed the engine for use in Grim Dawn.

        It certainly looks very interesting to me, I pre-ordered rather a long time ago!

        There’s been a slow drip-feed of stuff in the media section, but for the juicy details I’d suggest heading to the forums and checking out what the developers have been getting up to.

  39. Ragyereio says:

    Oh look. Yet another game that I would have been more then willing to fork over 50 euros for, but now will pass over.
    Good job, Blizzard/Activision. I hope you choke on the piles of money you’ll undoubtetly earn with that dumb auction thing.

  40. Jjkaybomb says:

    I dunno, I think big budget digital media will always have this problem… everything is moving online, TV, movies, heck, books as well. You arent allowed to own the shows you pay for, and I have seen monthly subscription-based models for hard-to-obtain, online scientific books and journals. People welcome Netflix, and why not, its cheaper. But the game industry just seems to be flipping out about this. Games arent put online so that as many people as possible can enjoy them and acess them for a decent price or some ads. Its so they can watch you every second of your filthy pirating pirate life so you dont pirate thier games, you filthy pirate. Also, give us sixty dollars. Pirate. What other media is so paranoid that it has to do this, even when you buy hardcopies??? Piracy cant be that much worse for games than it is for any other digital media!

  41. chabuhi says:

    Ever since Ezio froze mid-jump on me for 10 minutes while the client attempted to connect to Ubi’s servers I have been head-over-heels in hate with this type of DRM. I think they eventually changed that, but how utterly offensive. We can’t even trust you long enough to let you play the game after you just finished logging in 5 minutes ago, so we have to check every few minutes to make sure that you haven’t exchanged your store-bought copy for a pirated version.

    I’m sure I will still buy Diablo 3 because I am a fan and looking forward to it, but this makes me want to vote with my dollars. Then again, only in fantasy land will enough people refuse to buy the game in order to express our collective disgust with the publisher.

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      I use the PS3 version, so I’ve never had the lockout problem.

      That said, I suspect part of the problem with it is that, as a DRM solution, no cannot rely on any single check actually working out. As Shamus once said on the Escapist, the best way to delay cracks is not to have a single opening check, but to check in areas like in Batman: Arkham Asylum when the character jumps – if not, then it causes them to fall like a fool. If you do this in multiple places around the game (One check while jumping, one while loading, one while opening a door to the first boss, one that only kicks in if you give all 500 salamander tails to Evil Evilton and collect the Excalibur 2000, etc.), then it makes it harder for the cracker to crack the code, even harder if there is no easy to access library.

      So with regards to “We can’t even trust you long enough to let you play the game after you just finished logging in 5 minutes ago, so we have to check every few minutes to make sure that you haven’t exchanged your store-bought copy for a pirated version.”, it’s more telling pirate cracked versions “I admit it; you are better than I am, Because I know something you don’t know. I am not left handed!”

      So really, they just want to make sure you’re not the villain of the story, is all.

      EDIT: Also, if you think losing some small amount of progress with Ezio is bad, just wait until you see the DRM protection on Earthbound:

      1st, it gave you warning right up from movie style saying that copyright infringement is illegal.

      2nd, the game spawned more enemies at a time and made them stronger over the entire course of the game.

      3rd, during a cutscene leading to the final boss, the game would intentionally freeze mid-dialogue – resetting the game would reveal it also deleted *ALL* saves you made on that cartridge. Gone. All +40 hours of work..

      Frankly, 10 minutes of freezing and restarting probably no more than 30 minutes of gameplay at worst, I’m fine with it – granted, I don’t use the PC version, as I said, but it doesn’t get much worse than Earthbound.

  42. T-Boy says:

    Or you could just say “fuck Blizzard” and move on to another publisher or gaming series.

    What developers seem to forget is that they’re making an item that I can live without. I kind out outlined it here on my screed against publishers with regards to e-books, but the principle applies to music, videogames or anything that, basically, I can abandon for free or less-annoying non-DRMed alternatives.

    Which meant, for me, shrugging at Blizzard’s stupidity and buying Torchlight. I might buy Torchlight 2 if I have the money and if it’s worth the multiplayer features (might not be, considering how crappy my “broadband” connection is). Or it might not. Whatever.

    And market trends may move to the point where I won’t be able to find any kind of game that suits my gaming preferences. Which… what, will that kill me? No. I can do other things with my life, maybe. But the amount of hardship it generates me? Trivial.

    Basically the rule is: if I don’t buy your game, I don’t die. If enough people don’t buy a publisher’s / developer’s game, they die. Game publishers and development houses need to realise that their existence depends on our sufferance.

    So, Blizzard insults me with their scheme. I don’t buy their game. EA insults me with their marketing and limited game choices. I don’t buy their games. I find another publisher who’ll serve my needs for the medium. Or I find another medium altogether.

    I’ll survive. I’ve done this before. It’s sad, but I was one of the people who saw the Amiga, a platform I still adore to this day, die a slow horrible death. I got over it. If the PC as a gaming platform dies — and maybe it won’t, — hey, we can all get over it together.

    • Axle says:

      This^

      Plenty of games to play out there and if I’ll want to play a Diablo style game, I’ll go for Torchlight 2. Which will probably be cheaper and friendlier anyway….

  43. Jeff R. says:

    This sort of thing, along with the “release the pre-beta version and half-assedly patch it later” business model, if what drove me from PC gaming to consoles.

    Of course, nowadays consoles have caught up with most of that (and I still think that Nintendo has the better idea and that Microsoft and Sony ought to do away entirely with online software updates and force the developers to sink or swim with what they release, period. At least we have a single-model centralized DRM system with all of the least-bad attributes of Steam locked in, more or less, modulo connection-required Capcom bs…)

    • Alexander The 1st says:

      Re: Nintendo’s “Sink or Swim” model…I’m sorry.

      I just really hope they don’t do online DRM checks that, if you don’t have a wifi connection, require the built-in 3G/4G connections to use…those have data caps, thank you very much…

      • Sumanai says:

        Also: Forced firmware updates.

        I’ve heard that Windows Phone 7 smartphones actually downloaded, without permission, a pretty big firmware update some time ago. At least in Britain, where it’s pretty common to get high data transfer costs after going past the cap, people were slightly miffed.

  44. StranaMente says:

    And then I went to check at The escapist what were they talking about and how they reacted, and it seems that many people there are almost happy about the auction house (though the escapist didn’t mention the other good news).
    What have that place become?
    I’ll just hang around Rock Paper Shotgun. That place is way more sane and friendly…

    • Sagretti says:

      One of the major World of Warcraft blogs seemed happy about the system, too. Generally speaking, it seems tons of gamers see this as a get rich quick scheme. What people tend to forget is that there is no easy money. If tons of players are all selling items trying to get rich, then the market will be flooded and only the rarest items will have value.

      • X2-Eliah says:

        It’s a golden opportunity for all the gold-farmer bots and.. err.. stereoypical asian gold farms (not being insulting etc.).

        • StranaMente says:

          Did they noticed that they can’t use the money outside the blizzard enviroment?
          Every penny that enters there, doesn’t come out. Simple as that.

          So you gain money from a sell, but you can’t actually use that money on anything real, apart from a moth fee for WoW.

          How is that good again?

      • pinchy says:

        Totally agree… very few people would make any real money out of it especially when they will be competing with people overseas who are happy to work for a few bucks a day so long as they get fed- it is after all a commodity, my virtual gold is identical to the virtual gold of any other seller. I’m not saying making a few bucks now and then wouldn’t be nice but it certainly wouldn’t be something I’d set out to grind gold to achieve.

    • Alex says:

      Ha. Check the facebook comments on the bottom of the article. We’re tearing it up, down here. Maybe those forum puppies have gone soft.

  45. Vipermagi says:

    We already knew about always-online and no mods for quite a long time. RPS is acting as if it’s hot off the press, which I find silly at best.

    • StranaMente says:

      Not that I was interested and eagerly following the news of Diablo 3, but it’s the first time for me that I see this thing. So, if it was known, it wasn’t really widespread still.
      (not to say that I count as a meter of widespreadosity… but it sounded new to a lot of people as well on RPS)

    • Raygereio says:

      Really? Erm, when and where was it announced then? I really think it would have created somewhat of a ruckus if this was known to the Internet population before today.

    • Bubble181 says:

      Both the online-only, the no-modding and the RMT Auction House were only revealed at the latest press hoing, with the NDA expiring on august first. None of those things had been talked about – anywhere – officially before august first.
      I *have* been following DIII closely. You’re misremembering or spouting mist.

      • Vipermagi says:

        I am absolutely certain a Blizz rep stated D3 will not be moddable.
        Online-only was practically guaranteed, since it’s built on BNet2.0, same as SC2, but was indeed not official until now.

  46. Warstrike says:

    I live a whole 15 minutes from the center of a medium sized town (~100K). My internet options? Satellite or dial-up. Satellite lags too much to even try playing online (not that I am all that interested in online multiplayer). Oh, and satellite comes with speed and total data limits too. EDIT: (I should have made this point originally) The audience that does not have a suitable connection for this kind of thing is NOT negligible. I would love to have the right kind of connection, but this is not telephone lines. The infrastructure isn’t anywhere near as universal as people think. (end EDIT)
    I have been a rampant Blizzard fanboy since I discovered Warcraft I and Diablo. I stayed away from WoW because being married I want to be able to hit pause to deal with my kids or wife wanting something (and because I suspected I would quickly become unemployed and divorced). Starcraft I was the only game I have ever played significant time online, and then mainly because I discovered a group of older (mid-20s, heh) gamers who ran a private Battle.net clone to get together and were respectful and fun to play with. Blizzard is the only company from whom I have bought a major title near release for the PC for many years.

    For Starcraft 2, I was disappointed about the online-only DRM, but I had to buy it anyway. And I really enjoyed it. I could live with it checking in, but the game was played on MY computer.

    I was really looking forward to Diablo 3. I would never have tried to go online to play it, because of my interrupted gaming time and laggy internet connection (It is broadband speed, but with a significant-for-games amount of lag). But I would have given them my money again, probably even if the registration required my SSN, bank account numbers, and last 3 years of tax returns.

    I am saddened that I won’t be buying D3 (or any other Blizzard product, apparently). They don’t want the check I fully expected to write them. (multiple checks, actually, since I would probably have bought my wife a copy too, given the same kind of DRM as exists in SCII). I just can’t imagine this business decision being better than one that doesn’t exclude old (mid thirties) fogies like me with large amounts of disposable income and an obsessive love of videogames.

    Guess I’ll just have to quit and buy a boat. Probably cheaper anyway, right? :)

  47. poiumty says:

    I’ll still probably buy Diablo 3. I mean, I have good internet and the gameplay will most likely be very good, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t experience the game.

    That said I just came back from a heated argument with one of my friends on just how much bullshit this is. He’s of the opinion that any excuse for piracy is a good one, and it’s within the right of companies to implement any anti-piracy measure they can. His argument was that the always-online thing won’t hurt anyone because everyone has internet and Blizzard’s servers are also very good and stable nowadays.
    I kinda want D3 to fail just to prove how much caring about the consumer matters.

  48. hardband says:

    Shamus, you do realize you can play steam games offline right?

    Also seriously? WHY DIABLO 3! I would be happy for them not to let offline single players play and online players not play that character offline, but why not allow you the choice if you want to play a character offline and never play him online! That’s the problem! FORCING YOU TO PLAY ALWAYS ONLINE! I’m boycotting Diablo 3 for this bloody stupid decision!

    • StranaMente says:

      For example you CAN’T play dragon age origins offline.
      If you have dlc’s and try to play offline you won’t be able to access to the dlc’s AND your savegame will be corrupted.
      And there are some other things there that require you to be connected to work properly, so…

      • hardband says:

        Really? I don’t have dragon age: origins on my PC and i’ve never had problems with corrupt save files of DLC when playing offline on any of my games, although i’m sure it does happen, I just didn’t know about it.

      • Raygereio says:

        Erm, it doesn’t corrupt your saves.
        Or well, if it does then it isn’t a feature and it’s certainly not one I ever heard happenening before.

        • StranaMente says:

          It happened to me and to other people as well. Certainly it’s not a feature, but a bug, anyway it’s a problem.
          Once I lost my connection to internet and kept playing. I lost my progress since all the saves afterwards were corrupted.
          You can look up the thing in the forums, pretty sure it’s still there.

          • Raygereio says:

            Honestly, I couldn’t find it.
            The only solid info about any save file corruption I could find was about the exceding-vendor’s-inventory-limit-thing.

            • StranaMente says:

              Basically it’s this: http://social.bioware.com/forum/1/topic/58/index/759141
              It happened to me when the connection was lost.
              And even if most of the thread don’t say that, the great part of corrupted savegames comes from there.
              But still we can argue that this is a EA/BioWare issue.
              The experience that Shamus had is much more on the point.
              EDIT: I remember him talking about the problems he had once when he was trying to make stolen pixel and garry’s mod wouldn’t start in offline mod, but can’t find it. I was referring to that experience.

        • X2-Eliah says:

          It doesn’t corrupt, it just denies you from loading up the safe if there is any whiff of the dlc inside it. So you can’t play that save whilst offline.

          Which is the same as it being temporarily corrupted, in the end.

    • Even says:

      Except the offline mode isn’t really foolproof. It’s easy to lose the offline capability, since as it happens, the client is very finicky about how it holds the data it uses to allow the offline mode to activate. I can’t really count the times I’ve randomly lost the “login data” after rebooting or simply just by restarting the client. And all this happens for no apparent reason.

  49. modus0 says:

    I didn’t have a problem with Starcraft 2 requiring a constant internet connection because the majority of what people will be playing is Multiplayer. The campaign is really a tiny bit of the game, which people will only play through a few times, to get the achievements, and then likely never touch again. Multiplayer, especially against other people, however, is generally considered at least as important to Starcraft as the campaign.

    Diablo 3, OTOH, if it is anything like D2, is all campaign. Forcing people to play online only is unnecessarily restrictive and just unnecessary. As people above have said, there is nothing preventing people from creating an offline only character, and an online only character.

    *Sigh*

    Well, I had intended to get Diablo 3, but this online only feature has changed my mind. Guess I’ll be reading the Wiki page for the game once it’s out to find out what happens.

  50. lazlo says:

    I see what you’re doing here. You’re already marketing Project Frontier as a game that is not only awesome on its own merits, but is also free of just this sort of idiocy. I get it, I understand, I’m convinced, now go finish writing it so I can buy the thing from you already!

    :)

  51. Aufero says:

    I was mildly excited last year about the prospect of DIII, but now I’m seriously considering not buying the damn thing at all. StarCraft II pretty much exemplified ActiBlizzard’s “we want a lot more money, and we’ll do anything we want to you to get it” attitude last year, and this year looks like more of the same.

    The heck with it. I’ve had more fun out of Minecraft, Torchlight, Terraria and Dungeons of Dredmor in the last year than any AAA title. I’m not paying ten times as much cash to get half as much fun (and a large bucket of annoyance and aggravation as lagniappe)again.

  52. some random dood says:

    @Shamus
    Please don’t give companies the silent treatment when they release DRM-infected titles – a good rant can save some of us from falling for getting the game before finding out what restrictions are on them (less and less places seem to be giving the DRM restrictions on a title in their reviews, as if they now accept that the majority of their readers no longer care what publishers do any longer).

    • X2-Eliah says:

      Seconded. Even if it sets spurs of people fanboying the game / service, if Blizzard’s practice in their rts-game are intolerable, then speak up. Silence is always seen as acceptance, and ‘no, there is no problem’. Makking a fuss is the only way to make it known that you disapprove.

  53. Mersadeon says:

    Oh God… I didn’t know about that always-online in Diablo 3. Well, I didn’t have much interest in Diablo 3 anyway, but I am the kind of person who can be offended and angry at stuff that isn’t directed at me. Damn. I mean, really? I knew Ubisoft is dumb as toasted bread, but Blizzard, you too? Why couldn’t they just draw a line between Singleplayer and Multiplayer? Just make a Singleplayer-Character unable to join Multiplayer-games, let a prompt appear when someone wants to play SP so they know. Bam, problem solved. But nooooo, since they might not have… the same experiance? What exactly is it they want to protect here? Why not just draw a wall between MP and SP? Where is the reasoning behind this?
    Can someone explain it to me? Because those few second-hand sales (there aren’t THAT many of them anymore, even of no-DRM-games, except old PS1/2 & PC stuff) just can’t be the reason, right?

    Seriously, with Ubisoft, yeah, I was angry. But with Blizzard… I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed in you guys. I thought you were more mature. That you know what that does to your fanbase.

  54. Mathias says:

    My big, big, big gripe with D3 (outside of the whole DRM thing) is this line:

    “Heavily story-based”.

    Now, asking Blizzard to do a heavily story-based game is like asking BioWare to make an action shooter (ignoring the obvious irony). Blizzard games have always been notorious for their cliché writing and at times seemingly complete lack of understanding of narrative or the interaction between NPC’s and PC’s.

    Essentially, they’re building a game around something they suck at, and it seems like most of Blizzard’s otherwise decent writers (the team that worked on the original StarCraft) have either left the company, or are completely absent, for their presence hasn’t been felt since that game, a decade ago. This alone turns me off Diablo 3, before this DRM debacle.

    • Nick says:

      … really? I’ve actually always viewed Blizzard as one of the more story-focussed developers. Yeah, often cheesy and a bit cliche, but with characters that had depth, in a compelling world.

      I didn’t play Warcraft 3 to play a lot of RTS gameplay (well, a bit) – I played it to see what happened next in the story. I cheated my way through Starcraft to see the end to the story (playing old games after playing Warcraft 3 is just frustrating)

      And WoW might have a bat-shit insane story at times, but it’s hardly Resident Evil or Gears of War

      • The Naked Emperor says:

        I’ve never played the Warcraft RTSes but I’ve studied up on a lot of the lore due to having played WoW and there is a lot of compelling story ideas buried in that, it just always falls flat on its face (in WoW, at least) due to execution.

        Something they did right-Arthas, during Wrath of the Lich King, was a legitimately menacing figure. Everything from his voice to his appearance was downright terrifying. He even had some cool dialog from what I remember, though it’s been a while so I can’t say for sure.

        What they did wrong-He showed up waaaaay too much while you were questing. After a while he stopped being intimidating and it felt like they should give him a mustache to twirl, maybe add the Dr. Claw voice. “I’ll get you next time, Gadget!”

        And it’s a shame because there are the makings of a truly epic fall from grace in Arthas’ story but by the time it winds down all I’m thinking is “Meh”. It’s not even that the ending was lackluster-in fact there were some brilliant twists-it’s that everything leading up to it made it hit a lot softer than it could have.

        Bloat and camp are the two words I’d use to describe their storytelling style and it’s not at all compelling, at least not in that setting. And in Cata when they added a lot more story to the questlines than was present before I found that I cared less the more they added.

        • Zekiel says:

          I can’t comment on Arthas in WotLK, but in his origin story – the first campaign of Warcraft 3 – he’s handled pretty poorly. They had a good idea of “noble character corrupted by desire for revenge” but unfortunately it didn’t work well. As a player I was extremely irritated that my point-of-view character was making extremely foolish decisions, and there was nothing I could do about it.

          Having said that, I thought that Blizzard did very well in characterisations in both Starcraft and SC2 – Jim Raynor especially.

  55. Hitch says:

    I really appreciate my ISP today. (ISPs are like the weather. Nobody likes theirs. They constantly complain about it. But in too many cases there’s almost nothing that can be done about it.) I had no idea that people faced such constant lag and disconnects that any game that requires any sort of online connection is virtually unplayable most of the time.

    If I was of a cynical nature, I’d think people go out of their way to look for something to complain about on the internet.

    • some random dood says:

      And if I were of a cynical nature, I’d think that the corporate astro-turfers are out trying to justify their DRM scheme and pooh-pooh anyone who thinks that a single-player game should just work on their pc without needing an internet connection. If I were cynical…

      • Hitch says:

        Is Dialbo III even a single-player game? All of the emphasis seems to be on the multi-player side of things. It’s not even in public beta yet, so it’s hard to know exactly how it will play out, but the single-player side could be just an insignificant tacked on extra.

        • Warstrike says:

          Which in itself would be a problem for me. If they want to make “World of Diablo” then fine (although from what I have heard they already did and used Warcraft’s mythology). It just hurts that the sequel to a beloved game drops that much of the original game’s playability.

  56. I’m not much bothered by this, although I probably won’t be bothering with the game. I don’t see it as some kind of assault, either. Blizzard has decided it has ONE group of players it likes/cares about: the ones who play online. So they intend to tailor the experience 100% to those players. I actually see this as a POSITIVE step, just like the for-real-money auction system. Why? Because they’ve come out and said “THIS is who we are targeting with our product” instead of attempting to be all things to all people.

    One of the things I think the gaming world can benefit from is to STOP trying to be all things to all people–to adopt a Long Tail business approach where you sell people more precisely-tailored products. The fewer single-player games with half-assed multiplayer arenas tacked onto them, the better. The fewer multiplayer games with half-assed single-player campaigns tacked onto them, the better.

    This is not “intrusive DRM” where the game secretly installs hidden software that slows down your machine, contains security vulnerabilities, and reports who-knows-what to who-knows-whom. This is simply a game that is intrinsically multiplayer, like an MMO. Where you get off saying that Blizzard owes it to you to create the game YOU want to play I cannot imagine. They’ve decided they’d rather you played something else so they can tailor to the people who WANT a game like this. Okay then. They’re the ones spending millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours on this product.

    This is such a minor issue compared to the really big story–the real-money auction house–that I’m amazed you’re complaining about it. I mean, here is a practice that pretty much all MMO and multiplayer-game developers have frowned upon and even fought in court, and Blizzard is now going to be explicitly condoning the practice of people buying and selling in-game items (and, later, even characters!) with real money. Since they’re pretty much the major trend-setter in the online PC gaming world, this practice will likely spread. Would-be professional gamers should be hailing this with explosions of joy.

    • Vlad says:

      Exactly! It’s unfortunate that your message gets no replies, and probably few people even read it because they’d much rather jump the DRM-hate bandwagon when DRM isn’t even the real issue here.

      Instead of being content that Blizzard is being so transparent about its policies, people are like “They’re SURELY lying. It’s all about piracy. They probably even want to make MONEY off their game. How DARE they?”

      • I’m all fine with them making money. I want to buy their game, and play it single player, and probably play some games online with friends at some point.

        But that first part is where I’m going to focus my attentions, and I don’t like needlessly always having to be online for it.

        Don’t give me achievements like SC2, fine. But what do Blizzard lose by letting me have an offline-only mode?

  57. koriantor says:

    So alls I’m going to say is “Well, I planned on getting Diablo 3, but uh, I don’t know if it’s that exciting to me anymore.”

    I accepted this for starcraft 2, but that’s because I love playing on the ladder and the features are nice. Their achievement system actually suckered me into wanting to play the singleplayer game online. I don’t think I’ll have that much interest in Diablo 3 anymore. Oh well.

  58. Cybron says:

    People would rather have games than principles. Whether that means buying the game or pirating it, few people are going to refuse to play a game they want over what ultimately amounts to an inconvenience – an inconvenience that is in principle absolutely horrid and a terrible thing for the industry, but still just an inconvenience.

    • Warstrike says:

      Again, except it is not “just” an inconvenience for many. There are LOTS of people who can’t play server-sided games because of the internet infrastructure of their geographical area.

      • The Naked Emperor says:

        Although it would seem they’re in the minority when it comes to gamers. The fact is the only way boycotting anything would change the industry is if the people for whom it’s not more than an inconvenience take up the cause.

  59. Jenx says:

    And yet another reason why I would not even bother pirating this game, let alone actually giving money for it. In short – fuck that shit. This is stupid.

  60. Kizer says:

    So, I’m going to throw in a comment not about how bad DRM is, or how ridiculous online-only playing is. I’m going to talk about why every Blizzard game is a hit. And this is all going to come back to something you, Shamus, rate very highly in your evaluations of games.

    When I started gaming, I was a devoted PC gamer. I loved games like Myst and SimCity 2000. As I grew older, I started looking into more “Mature” games (read: violent). I discovered three games at about the same time. They were Starcraft, Warcraft II, and Unreal Tournament. I loved all three, and desperately wanted to play them. On my non-hardcore PC gaming desktop, only the Blizzard games could run. I was about 11 years old at the time. My parents finally got sick of helping me get games working on my computer, and got me an N64. Suddenly, I was introduced to a world where games worked as soon as you purchased them, and there was no mystery about if this game would be playable upon returning home.

    Later, I upgraded my computer. It was now around 2005-06. I finally had a PC that could run Unreal Tournament, and I excitedly ran around blowing up bots. Meanwhile, Starcraft and Warcraft still ran perfectly. Diablo 1 and 2 also worked great, but my internet connection wasn’t good enough for Battle.net play. But new games came out. I tried several different games. Newish Quake, Doom, and Unreal Tournament games still didn’t work. But one game did: Warcraft 3. Soon I’ll be getting a new laptop. It’s not a top of the line model, it won’t have a super-advanced graphics card, just a nice one. But I know it will be able to run SC2 and Diablo 3. It won’t be able to run Crysis or other games well. And that’s the secret to Blizzard’s games. They know how to design games for a range of computers. I may not always have internet access, and I will definitely miss being able to play Diablo offline. But in the end, Blizzard is the only company that makes games that work reliably on my computer.

    Additionally, when I started playing WC2 and SC, my close friend also was playing. However, his family only had a Mac. Blizzard was the only company that made good quality games that work on both operating systems. When I left for college, I realized that I no longer played most computer games. I had become a “consoletard,” with the exception of Blizzard. So, I got a Mac for college. And what do you know, all my old Blizzard games work great on it. I’m getting another Mac this year, and once again my Blizzard games are going to work. I think I speak for a lot of people out there when I say that Blizzard continuously high quality games that a large audience can physically play. As long as they keep that business model, it won’t matter what kind of features or options they add or remove. Only the most principled gamers, like Shamus, will be able to resist.

    It probably also doesn’t help that every awesome PC game that I want to play these days seems to also have an X-Box version, except for Blizzard titles. Comparing $130 for a system, maybe $50 for a controller, and $60 for a game to $1500 for a modest computer, another $400 for a graphics card, and $60 for the game, only to discover that some random component in the computer is incompatible with the game . . . yeah. I’ll take the console any day. Dual-analog sticks is definitely worse for aiming than a mouse, but I prefer actually playing a game than struggling for hours and days trying to make it work.

    TLDR version: Blizzard makes games that work on lots of computers, even low- and mid-range ones. Only Blizzard makes games that reliably work on MY computer. Therefore, I continue to buy Blizzard games as long as they work on my computer.

    • Christopher M. says:

      $1900 for a modest computer? What the heck?
      Let’s see. $150 for a CPU, $150 for a mid-high-end graphics card, $150 for case+power, $150 for mobo+memory, $100 for hdd+DVD drive… Total? $700.
      And that’s starting fresh. Have a pc already? Chop off the case, dvd drive, possibly CPU/mobo… You might be able to get a functional gaming pc for $150 outlay if you’re careful.
      Then you realize how much you save on games ($10+ each), accessories ($120 for a 250gb hdd? In this decade?), and suddenly the cost-effectiveness equation changes right around.

      • Nah, I have to replace the power supply in my computer to run games, and one with at least an 80 rating and at least 650 watts is going to run about $100.00. The “$150.00″ video card will actually run about $160-$170 (and I don’ know why the reviews will all show a price of around $230 for that card).

        So, close onthe price, but …

        • Christopher M. says:

          Might this be case-specific? My psu was about $80; my case $50, hence $150 or thereabouts for both. My graphics card was $170, but cheaper ones are available.

        • Sumanai says:

          Unless you intend to run Crossfire (two graphics cards running at the same time) or something, I don’t think you’ll need 650 watts.

      • Warstrike says:

        For SC2, the $500 “Whatever is not total crap at Costco” computer will work just fine except for when the Battlecruiser comes sweeping in and torching the remaining zerg in the survival mission.

        • Rick C says:

          Heck, I just bought a radeon 5670 for $80, and it’s got a $20 rebate, and it plays WoW on Ultra. Then again, so did it’s predecessor, a 9500 GT. Sure, they won’t play Dirt 2 at high resolution but that’s OK–for me. The point being computing power doesn’t cost nearly as much as it used to!

      • Alan De Smet says:

        My 4-year-old gaming PC ran me $900, and it served me well for 2 years. Then I put a $200 video card into it and it’s still serving me well. It runs like a champ, playing modern games on high quality settings just fine (although not at the highest resolution). There is no need to spend $1,500 on a gaming PC and hasn’t been for years.

    • decius says:

      A top-tier gaming system, from Newegg:
      Mid-tower case, 850W PSU $150 (+$25 Shipping)
      ASUS 990FX motherboard $190
      1090T six-core processor $180
      Sapphire video cards 2x$245
      24″ 1090P monitor $270
      16GB DDR3 1866 RAM $170
      Various other peripherals (keyboard, mouse, headset) for less than $125 total.
      I get $1625 for a computer that will run virtually any game released through and including 2020, including the monitor. If you take off the monitor (or add the price of the HDTV to the console) the comparison shifts towards the PC.

      Granted, that’s still a hell of a lot of money. If you want a mid-tier system (something that will run every game through 2015, although not always at maximum settings), you can easily cut every component’s cost by at least half. For an upgrade from a 2005 XP mid-tier box, you can probably get a minimal gaming system with RAM and avideo card. Even if you need a new CPU, you’re still out less than $200 total.

  61. Duoae says:

    The worst part is that even indie games like Minecraft need to be logged in at all times too. I’m pretty sure that when i first bought it that, if i wasn’t connected to the server, it never showed up “Oh this copy isn’t registered (you filthy pirate!) :( )”….. but now it does.

  62. Taellosse says:

    Apologies if someone else already said this–I don’t have the time to read through almost 200 comments to make sure I’m not repeating someone.

    I don’t know that your postulate that DRM ought to have killed PC gaming is necessarily wrong. I just don’t think it’s going to manifest as a mass revolt on the part of the entire community. Rather, it has been, and will continue to be, manifesting in the form of all those individuals you mention that abandon PC gaming as too onerous. Consoles are not open systems, but they offer a simpler, far more hassle-free experience, by and large, than PCs do. As consoles continue to advance in the market, they continue to chip away at the PC install base. I have friends who have sworn off PC gaming altogether as too much trouble. Some of them have done it because they’re sick of having to keep track of arcane system requirements, and worry about upgrading a computer every 2 years to keep playing the games they like. Others have done it because they’re sick of being punished by oppressive DRM. Some have cited both.

    Even those who haven’t sworn off PCs for gaming altogether (myself included) buy far less of them than we once did. I buy perhaps 2 or 3 AAA-level PC games a year, and easy 3 or 4 times that in console titles, whereas, in previous console generations, I didn’t even buy one, most times, until late in the cycle, if at all. Now, I have a 360, a PS3, and a Wii (even if I haven’t turned it on in 8 months). I’ve never bought all the competitors in a console generation before. Used to be I would always get the PC version if a game came out for multiple platforms. Now, there are hardly any games I do that.

    We’ve all been hearing it for a couple of years now: PC gaming is dying. Yeah, the indie scene is doing pretty well, and I suspect will continue to do so, but that’s, I think, precisely because it generally doesn’t demand its users to have the latest hardware and suffer the indignities of restrictive DRM. The worse that trend gets in the AAA market, the fewer people they’ll be selling their games to. Unless this trend alters, I figure we’ve got maybe 5 years before you basically stop seeing major developers produce non-MMOs for the PC market, except maybe the occasional port of a console title. The numbers just won’t be there.

  63. Not much about the modding. The only mod I remember (and never got around to running) was the naked assassin mod. Can’t say that mods for DII/LOD did a lot to make the loss of them terribly bad.

    Now, D1 had some interesting mods. One that spawned levels filled with Angry Diablos if you had Hellfire also installed. Many of the D1 mods were fun. Heck, Hellfire was a mod, really.

    It would be nice if you could use the D3 engine and assets to set up videos and your own levels and plot lines. [hmm, makes me wonder, will they be licensing the engine as iD software did>].

    But, who at present misses the thought of mods not being available?

  64. Vlad says:

    I usually agree with you about the online-only policy, Shamus. It sucks.

    But this time, you cannot see it without the larger context of buying/selling items with real-life money. If they want to use this auction house, they needed to make sure NOBODY makes those “bad choices”, because a few people making “bad choices” (i.e. cheating) while 99% of people don’t cheat would still screw over everyone else regardless of cheat status.

    I’m afraid you’re never going to read my comment. Sigh. Please, can’t you just not be so hateful when a company actually comes out and explains their policy? I mean, at least give their arguments a second’s reflection? This isn’t Ubisoft, where they just uselessly tried to defend against pirates. This is a feature with advantages/disadvantages.

    I truly believe you’re doing your own readership a disservice by comparing this scheme to Ubisoft’s bullshit.

    • Joe says:

      I’ll agree that there’s some additional context there, but at the same time, it seems that the D2 solution would still work there. Want to buy some items for your online character? Or your offline one, for that matter? OK. But if you put them on your offline character, you can’t use them online. Provided that fact was made clear, I’m not seeing why the “Character Separation” bit is such a problem.

      And I will also agree that Bliz is doing this a lot better than Ubisoft did. Ubisoft said “Our games are being pirated. So we’re going to make our games harder to pirate, even though this makes them harder to play.” Blizzard said “Our games are being pirated, so we’re going to make them harder to pirate. We know this makes them harder to play, but we’re going to use the fact that you’re always on our servers to do nice things for you.” IE, they added achievements. It’s not a whole lot, in fact it’s hardly anything, but at least they’re showing that they can enhance the experience somewhat while detracting from it. I still don’t like it, but it’s essentially why Steam is better than your average online activation scheme.

      • Vlad says:

        But the thing is that it’s not JUST achievements, just like Steam is not just achievements. In my opinion, for single-player characters to be playable in multi-player and for the community to have a real money auction house, this always online thing must also happen.

        It’s not JUST to counter pirates, which would be stupid.

        Blizzard is making a choice, the choice being to allow single-player characters (which are potentially cheatable in “offline mode”) to play in a multi-player campaign. That is something which people may have different opinions on, and I’m sorry to see Shamus bashing Blizzard for doing something many people (myself included) might aprove of. He’s not bashing something justifiably stupid (like the omnipresent Ubisoft DRM example), but just bashing people who don’t agree with him.

    • Zukhramm says:

      How does me cheating “screw over everyone else”?

      • Vlad says:

        Because their intention is to have single-player characters be playable in multi-player, and therefore be able to sell your single-player achieved items to other people for real money. If you cheat and give yourself x1000 Stones of Jordan then sell them for real money, you screw over a real money based economy for everyone.

    • Shamus says:

      “I mean, at least give their arguments a second’s reflection?”

      I gave their comments a good deal of reflection. (It takes a couple of hours to bang out a 1,000 word post.) Did you read mine? If there is a wall between single-player characters and online characters (as in the case of Diablo 2) then the cheating single-players won’t affect the auction house.

      “I truly believe you’re doing your own readership a disservice by comparing this scheme to Ubisoft’s bullshit.”

      They’re both systems that oblige the single-player people to be online, all the time. Blizzard might have better reasons, but if you’re a single-player / LAN player (like me, and most of my friends in the ten years from 1995-2005) then you don’t care about the auction house, or cheaters, or anything else that is multiplayer-only.

      The thing is, does Blizzard even KNOW how many people they are blocking off? I can’t imagine how they would know that, since – by definition – those people are invisible to the rest of us. If someone spent eight years grinding away on their own LAN, Blizzard would have no way of knowing that they existed or how much they played.

      • Vlad says:

        Fine, that’s fair. I’m sorry for seeming offensiv, it’s not my intention.

        But what about the people that do want their single-player characters to use the auction house and play multiplayer? I don’t have a lot of time to play, so I don’t want to be forced to have two separate characters, one when I play by myself and one when playing with friends/online…

        I guess it’s always going to be a compromise between pissing off people who want a separation bewteen SP and MP and people who don’t want one. I don’t know which group is bigger, nobody can know. It’s not a real argument, but all we can know is that the world is moving towards more and more connectivity. People that aren’t online at all times are getting rarer, that is the only fact, even if I agree it is not a valid argument for my side.

        Moreso, even if Blizzard can’t find out exactly how many people are playing on their LANs, they still listen to their fanbases and try to cater to them (that’s how I see it). The pseudo-proof is their backtracking on the Real ID thing some time ago. Sure, you can say that it might have been their plan all along to propose something extremely harsh then backpedal to what they actually wanted to make fans eat it up… but if we’re not going to take anything anyone says or does at face value we’ll never get anywhere at all. Hmm, this is getting a bit side-tracked.

        EDIT: For comparison, this http://classic.battle.net/diablo2exp/faq/multiplayer.shtml is how it worked in Diablo II. So you had Open characters, which could be transfered from SP to MP with hacking risks involved, but could be played on a LAN, and there were Realm characters, which worked like D3 will work, online-only.

        • Rick C says:

          But what about the people that do want their single-player characters to use the auction house and play multiplayer? I don’t have a lot of time to play, so I don’t want to be forced to have two separate characters, one when I play by myself and one when playing with friends/online…

          So make an online characer, and don’t always play it multiplayer. As numerous people have pointed out, you could already do that in D2 by creating a passworded game. This has the benefit that it doesn’t force me to be online, and it doesn’t have any real drawbacks. I don’t consider “people who accidentally create offline characters but then realize they want to be online characters” to be a real problem. People can say “they don’t read warnings” all they want. You know how you fix that? You don’t put up a message box; you put up a dialog that says “you must type ‘ok’ to create this online character.” Can’t do that without reading the instructions.

          • Manny says:

            Another easy way to prevent the “disaster” of having someone create an offline character by mistake is to make online-only characters the default choice. All those that don’t read warnings and just click through will automatically make the “right” choice.

            Those who care about offline play will read the messages and warnings and select the option to make an offline-only character if they want to.

            This is so damn easy to come up with that the reason Blizzard gives for leaving offline-mode out cannot be the one they say it is. As many other people, I guess the real motivations are DRM and the auction house. They should just stop lying about it.

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