We all remember that game in our childhood which stole our hearts and made us wait 12 years for its next iteration. That game which, despite its few flaws, we would play for hours and hours, again and again because it was simply the most legendary RPG of its time. Yes I’m talking about Diablo II, what else? After over a decade of waiting, lovers of RPG can now lay their hands on Diablo III, which is poised to become THE most epic game ever once players have a chance to lay their hands on it.
Barely a day after the massive worldwide launch, people are disappointed. People are upset. Blizzard’s servers are unable to handle the load of users logging on to authenticate the game, resulting in a massive outrage all over the Internet. Diablo III requires an “always-on” connection even in single player mode, irking those who have an internet connection with a download cap, those who are often on the move and thus do not have a qualifying internet connection (Blizzard requires a “Broadband Internet connection”, specified in their requirements) and those (like me) who want to play in offline or single player mode and want nothing to do with Auction House or multiplayer mode.
Why is it wrong?
What is upsetting is the fact that Blizzard has confirmed that there will be no offline play in future either. There will be no segregation of single player and multiplayer modes like there was in Diablo II. But the thing really upsetting me is that other companies are now slowly and steadily moving toward this trend.
There were numerous reasons for Blizzard to require an “always online” connection. Primarily, Blizzard wanted to safeguard the economy of the D3 world by preventing abuse of the system through which users could cheat and sell items privately, or hack and create duplicate items; basically, what goes on in WoW. They also wanted users to have internet connections so Blizzard can check for pirated games.
What this has resulted in is that the major gameplay mechanics are shifted server side. Enemy /map generation. Character creation and saving. Majorly, it will all happen online and will be saved on Blizzard’s servers. While this will help in using the same character that you have put so much work into, in both the single and multiplayer modes, and also reduce to quite an extent the abuse of the economy of Diablo III and help Blizzard earn a few more monies, it will also require you to sit in a place with at least 3G Internet if you want to play the game without many lags. This is a bad move for those who spend majority of their time traveling and want some monster killing on-the-go.
Another bad move by Blizzard was not ensuring proper load handling capabilities for their servers, especially on launch day. While I agree that things like these happen, this was a really bad move on their part, especially when people are paying $60 for a game they have waited for for 12 years. And Blizzard is, since a few years now, known for making bad moves. Case in point — No official LAN mode for Starcraft?! That IMO is quite idiotic.
Things we need to learn
But bitching about Blizzard’s dense management is not the point of this post. The point of the post is to point out two things. Firstly, the trend that has developed over the recent years. The trend of requiring a persistent Internet connection for games. Assassin’s Creed 2, C&C4, Darkspore, and now Diablo III. Recent news have pointed out that the next edition of SimCity will also require a persistent Internet connection while playing. Blizzard took it a step further and put some game-side mechanics on the server end for Diablo III which will result in buggy or no cracks, if any.
This is a worrying trend, and I shall point out that these companies will lose out on people buying their games because of proper reasons like being always on the move or not having a stable Internet connection and such. If the server crashes result in lags that kill your character or losing on your progress and moving to the last checkpoint, it will create a tirade of angry users. When people can get upset on lags on a F2P MMO like Jade Dynasty, people definitely will lose their tempers on a paid, laggy game. Blizzard has earned millions of dollars in revenue and it should improve upon the infrastructure. After all, they have got the dough because WE gave it to them to use their services, didn’t we? Expecting a proper server shouldn’t be too much to ask here. Despite all that, Diablo III is a good game and the mechanism may not be really harmful in most of the cases; this might actually work if done right. I know I want to play the game and I am willing to compromise on the “offline only” requirement of mine for saving the world.
I would also like to point out the following to the majority of those gamers. You are in the age of broadband Internet, with most using fast xMbps connections, and many of you with your gaming PCs are hooked to a place so getting a true broadband connection is not difficult. There will always be workarounds or compromises like going for another game or connecting to the Internet. While the intentions in making Diablo III a connected game may be partly noble, many of the DRMs are just wrong.
Maybe, the gamers will boycott games and make their protests heard(like Kaushik, and now me.) Maybe more gamers will join in and turn to studios that want to earn the respect of the gamers and make good games. This is a tall order of expectation from people who can go on rage in games but stay meek in real life and don’t register their protests at all, but perhaps they will rise as a community and oppose such “features” that disrupt their game playing experience rather than enhancing it, just so the companies earn money.
Maybe, just maybe, out of the failures of Blizzard’s servers and the continuous degradation of the quality of the games served to us, there will be something good coming out of it all.