About games and gaming thereof!

Preablo III

So, Diablo 3 comes out tomorrow, as you all probably know at this point.

Diablo 3 has to be the most controversial subject in gaming right now. It’s arguably one of the most widely anticipated games ever at this point, and yet there’s an overwhelming number of former Diablo fans expressing rage, disappointment and disinterest in the game because of its required Internet connection and real-money auction house. It’s caused any forum thread regarding Diablo to turn into a battlefield of fans vs. ex-fans, one side saying Blizzard is stupid and evil now and the other side saying they’re butthurt over nothing.

Personally, I’m not happy about the required online connection, but I’ve preordered the game regardless and am very much looking forward to it. I don’t like that you have to play on an online server even for single player, but I understand why they’re doing it (anti-piracy, more incentive to buy auction house items, etc.) and I’m confident that it won’t ruin this game for me, especially since I’ll mostly be playing multiplayer with friends anyway.

I played Diablo 1 when I was three years old. It was the first RPG, as well as the first graphically violent game, I ever played. Everyone in my family played it, and we all had fun. Diablo 2 was a rare example of a game that both my brothers and I all played obsessively. My brother Neil, who normally doesn’t particularly care for games, played Diablo 2 for hundreds of hours, getting multiple characters to level 80+ and literally decking them out in the very best items in existence without using cheats.

I’ll admit I felt nostalgia tingling through my spine as I played the Diablo 3 beta during the open weekend. As pitiful as it may sound, this franchise has played a prominent role in my life. Furthermore, I’ve loved every single Blizzard game since Warcraft 2, so it seems unwise for me to skip this latest installment.

If you’re abstaining from D3 because of its always-on DRM, I respect that. It’s your choice, whether you base it on principles or a lack of a reliable connection. Hell, it took me awhile to decide whether I’d be buying the game myself. I wouldn’t dare take the choice away from you.

But you are not a holy crusader battling the forces of evil. You are not a courageous protester standing up against corporate injustice. You’re just a guy (or girl, of course) who’s decided not to buy a game because it doesn’t let you play offline. And that’s fine, so long as you don’t talk about it as if Blizzard is “evil” and anybody who’s buying the game is stupid, wrong, and/or “part of the problem.”

I understand it’s easy to get upset about the fact that its required online connection won’t stop Diablo 3 from selling incredibly well and being loved by critics and gamers. I’m against the always-on DRM template, and I don’t like that it’s being used in a game I’m so interested in. But this won’t become the norm for every game, no matter how well Diablo 3 does. Even if it’s adopted by EA, Activision and Ubisoft (and I doubt all three of them will put it in every game they release) there will still be plenty of other studios who don’t use it. Thanks to Steam, Desura, Kickstarter and so on, there are plenty of avenues for independent developers to release high-quality games with no required connection.

It’s easy to hate anybody who supports Diablo 3, but consider where I stand. Diablo 3 is a game I’ve been looking forward to for years. I played through the beta and enjoyed it thoroughly. I don’t like some of the choices they’ve made regarding it, but my internet connection is generally reliable enough for it not to be a huge problem, and from my perspective it seems like a game that will be worth every dollar I spend. This doesn’t make me “weak-willed;” I’ve done my research, weighed the pros and cons, and concluded that this game is worth purchasing despite its flaws. It’s not ignorant; it’s what you’ve done for literally every game you’ve spent your own money on.

It’s easy to preach about “the principle of the matter” until you realize that if you were truly 100% against the idea of a publisher trying to keep control of its product after it’s been sold, you would have stopped buying games as soon as they added serial keys. The truth is that everybody draws a line at some point, and you shouldn’t hate us for drawing our lines a bit farther down the road than you.

In short, if you don’t buy the game, that’s fine. Just don’t patronize those of us who do.


14 responses

  1. I’m not buying it because I didn’t find the previous incarnations interesting enough to get excited about.

    Have fun with it!

    May 14, 2012 at 12:52 PM

  2. Irridium

    Well said. Don’t much care for Diablo since the series never interested me that much, but I agree with the general message. Had to put up with quite a bit of crap for liking and buying Halo, though most of that is over now since the spotlight shifted to Call of Duty.

    I’ll try out Diablo 2 though. May as well give it a shot. Probably won’t be getting Diablo 3 though, since my internet is crap, but I hear Torchlight would be a suitable replacement if I end up liking Diablo 2.

    May 14, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    • JPH

      Honestly, I’d recommend getting Torchlight 2 when it comes out even if you don’t play Diablo 2. It looks like it’ll be quite good, and at $20 it’s not too much of a risk.

      May 14, 2012 at 1:32 PM

  3. Sumanai

    In Rock Paper Shotgun the sides seemed to go “Blizzard is the Devil, Torchlight 2 rules!” and “Torchlight sucks, Diablo 3 is the second coming!”, so it was ridiculous. The handful of people who seemed to have sensible opinions were just going “I don’t like what Blizzard is doing, so not buying” and “Torchlight 1 wasn’t my cup of tea, so not buying the sequel”, but got drowned out pretty quickly.

    I can’t remember the anti-Blizzard side’s comments since they were always some form of “greedy buggers” and therefore not really memorable, but there was a winner on the Blizzard camp. It went something like “Diablo 3 is going to be the best game in the genre for ten years, it’s your loss”

    So yeah, in my experience it’s condescending attitudes all around. I haven’t read on any topic relating to either one of the games on RPS for months now. In fact the only piece I’ve read about either has been on Bluescreen of Awesome, unless Shamus made something I’ve forgotten. And of course this one.

    I think the group that thinks everyone should boycott D3 are using the slippery-slope argument. But D3 is in a genre that is very multiplayer focused, so the always-online makes some sense. If it would be showed into a game, *hem*Ubisoft*hem*, where it doesn’t belong people would be more inclined to go up in arms. My biggest gripe about it is that the game should be called Diablo 3 Online or something to minimise the chance that people will buy it without realising it’s online-only.

    Though that’s not the reason why I’m not buying it. I didn’t have a lot of fun with Diablo 2, Warcraft 3 or WoW (haven’t played Starcraft 2 at all), so I don’t think it’s likely that I’ll like D3. There were some individual problems with design that I’ve read and forgotten months ago, but those weren’t that big.

    You know that “sign up for WoW for a year and get Diablo 3 for free” offer? I have a friend who loved D2 and was going to play WoW for at least a year anyway. It was a pretty sweet deal for him.

    Jarenth said on BSoA that he’ll be covering D3 more in the future, do you plan on doing that?

    May 14, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    • JPH

      I plan on doing so, yes. But I have a nasty habit of not going through with plans.

      To be fair, I’m looking forward to Torchlight 2 as well as Diablo 3. And I like that Torchlight 2 is there to take Diablo’s place for the LAN & offline single player fans. It’s like how Saints Row 2 took GTA’s place for wacky colorful crime fun when GTA4 when for gritty seriousness.

      May 14, 2012 at 2:26 PM

      • Sumanai

        I didn’t notice the similarities before. Now it seems kind of obvious. There’s even the same fans vs. ex-fans thing going on. Hopefully this time it’ll die out faster after they’re both released.

        May 14, 2012 at 7:25 PM

        • You’ll be happy to hear that I got Torchlight II on the (even more) cheap, and that I’ll be pushing for a proper review some time after it comes out. And I like that angle, JPH, so I’ll probably be stealing it.


          May 14, 2012 at 9:35 PM

  4. man i could care less about having to be online mainly because im a console gamer and nowadays you have to be online most of the time for those to work so unless i dont have an internet connection for some reason diablo 3 requiring online connection doesnt bother me in the slightest, unfortunately my laptop is just at the minimal requirements and when i was running the beta it crahsed and struggled the entire time, so until i get my first few summer paycheccks and buy a highend computer that can handle diablo 3 on its highest settings i probably wont be buying it. Even though i would love to get into the diablo series as i have always heard great things about it.

    May 14, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    • Sumanai

      From what I’ve understood, it’s not just a “you need to keep a connection open to the servers” but parts of the game (AI, enemy and item spawn scripts, hit and damage calculations etc.) are run on the server like in an MMO. So lag possibly affects more than in the average single player always-online game.

      May 15, 2012 at 1:54 PM

      • Sumanai

        Just realised everyone might not have ran into the same info as me:

        The engine has to work like that because otherwise there would be many ways to cheat items either through spawning items, changing the probability of item drops or cheating in combat and killing things too easily therefore making it faster to get changes for drops.

        The only other option would be to have all sorts of anti-cheat software in place that could cause trouble by locking things up and so on, which could be much worse than what is in place.

        May 15, 2012 at 2:08 PM

  5. It took me a long time to actually decide to get Diablo III due to the online DRM. Only reason I am getting it is because my brothers are getting it.

    Turns out my line is more flexible than I thought it was. I held firm on previous online DRM schemes.

    Still was never about what other people did, it is about what is acceptable to me.

    May 14, 2012 at 10:33 PM

  6. I’ve read several articles around the web, not to mention a 4000 post thread on the Diablo 3 forum complaining about some errors, which are because the servers are full.

    Now lets imagine each problem individually. As people have mentioned anyone with a reliable internet connection shouldn’t have a problem with being always online. I would concede that this problem by itself is not a huge deal.

    Lets imagine another situation where they have inadequate servers but you don’t have to always be online. In this case even if you can’t access the servers you can still play offline and the game is not completely ruined for you. Heck, with some people choosing to play offline it would take a load off the servers and they might have avoided that entire problem.

    I would say either problem individually wouldn’t actually be that bad, and I would even consider buying a game that had either problem if it seemed good enough. However if you get both problems combined you end up with at least several thousand people unable to play the game they paid for, for an arbitrary amount of time. How could they not see this coming? If the game is always online then you need enough severs to handle it.

    I can think of 2 possible explanations for this:

    1. Acti-Blizz is so incompetent they really have no clue how many servers they needed, which seems a bit unlikely given that they have over a decade experience in online gaming.

    2. Acti-Blizz has nothing but contempt for its customers. Letting people play the game they paid for is not actually important if they can save some money on servers. And you know what, if it is because of the cost of servers, then should have thought of that before making it online only. They have no one to blame but themselves for this failure.

    And I should add that I don’t intend this post to be hostile or aggressive, so sorry if it comes off that way. Your post was made before the game was actually released so there was no way to know about the server issue. However I think its worth discussing the issue. As I mentioned always online is a significantly different situation than always online + inadequate servers. If they actually had enough servers there would be no issue and I probably wouldn’t have even posted.

    May 16, 2012 at 8:44 AM

  7. eldiran

    I think the worst thing about always-online gaming is 10 – 20 years from now, no one will ever be able to play the game. When I think of all the years of developers’ lives spent on MMOs that no longer exist (and never will exist again) it is extremely depressing. Diablo 3 likely won’t be any different.

    May 18, 2012 at 9:16 PM

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