Thursday, August 18, 2011

Diablo 3 change of heart

Over the past couple of weeks I've had time to simmer down and think. Some of you might have read my radical opinion about the controversial Diablo 3 features announced by Blizzard so it might come as a surprise to hear that I've had a change of heart since then. Well, don't be too surprised. I told y'all that I'm hot-blooded and sometimes I tend to overreact to certain stuff that I feel strongly about. At the risk of turning Diablo purists against me, I will try to explain how and why I reached this new conclusion.

The decision that I made at the end of my rant was that I wasn't going to buy Diablo 3. The main reason was that the game did not have an offline single player mode. Thus, I wanted to boycott it in protest against the lack of an offline mode. I mentioned that I may yet change my mind but changing it barely two weeks later doesn't give me lot of credit, does it? Here's my reasoning behind this.

The three main "features" that pissed me off were (in reverse order):

3) No mods
Unfortunately for those who strongly support mods, I'm ambivalent about them. On the one hand, I never used them in Diablo 2 and wouldn't anticipate using them in Diablo 3. On the other hand, I support people's right to mod their game. Not to sound selfish but... the net result here is that the lack of modding does not affect me. There is another reason why I have come to prefer the lack of modding, and it's related to 2). You see, both the gold and real money auction houses will play a huge role in Diablo 3. Because the stakes are much higher than in, say, WoW because it's real money vs fictional money this time, I certainly wouldn't want gold farmers and such to have a huge advantage in controlling the market. Because (hopefully) there won't be mods that help people buy and sell stuff automatically in huge batches (like in WoW), everyone will play on a level field.

2) Real money auction house
Initially I was horrified by the thought of real life creeping into my game. I thought that being able to buy items for real money will "cheapen" the game. But then I read other people's opinions on this and I also realized on my own that it really doesn't matter what other people do. Diablo 3 is not WoW. It's a lobby game, meaning that people aren't playing in a persistent world but rather in a myriad instances, either by themselves or grouped with 3 others but forever isolated from all the zillion other instances. There's also no PvP to speak of. As a result, I shouldn't give a crap what gear others are wearing. And if I happen to randomly group up with someone who has bought their gear for real money, guess what: I will benefit from that by being in a stronger group which can kill more monsters at a quicker pace, meaning that I will have a higher chance of getting better items myself.

Now, I have come to embrace this new real money AH concept wholeheartedly. In fact, I think that Blizzard is making quite a genius move here. Not only are they mitigating (if not eliminating) illegal trading, but they are also providing an additional source of revenue for themselves. After all, someone needs to pay for those servers, right? I know, that wouldn't be an issue if offline play was allowed. The cool thing is that those fees will come not from a monthly subscription (like in WoW) but from those people who are willing to buy items from the AH for real money. Well, also from those whose auctions fail to sell and they forfeit their posting fee. Meaning that the rest of us who won't buy items for cash can "benefit" from free online play.

There's been a lot of excitement building up around the idea of being able to make real money playing your favorite game. I'm a bit skeptical as to the exact sums a player can make but I've realized that I do want to participate in this. I am fully aware that most likely very few (if any) people will be able to make a living from this, yet, what other game lets you make money while having fun? If there's one case of having your cake and eating it too, this is it. And this ties nicely into my final point.

1) Online-only play
To summarize, here are some of the main reasons why I, personally, was completely against online-only play: game dependent on the internet connection and/or Blizzard's servers; unable to play it on the go; high cost for a game which is "crippled" to online-only play; localization and the fact that moving to another continent would require me to buy the game again.

Don't get me wrong: I'm still opposed to a lot of these. It would have been nice if Blizzard had offered offline single player. Not to sound selfish (again) but personally I don't really suffer from internet connectivity issues. Yeah, occasionally my cable will go down for a short while but that's not an end-of-the-world scenario after all.

The thing that made me reconsider my boycott is the real money auction house. You see, the RMAH gives online play some validity. Those who don't wish to engage in real money activities have the option not to. But for those of us who made big gold on WoW's auction house, Diablo 3's RMAH offers a strong enticement. Sure, it's almost guaranteed I won't make thousands of dollars each month by playing Diablo 3 in my spare time, but, say, an extra $100 a month is a very big deal for me. Heck, even an extra $100 a year would be welcome, especially in these tough economic times.

As for having to buy another copy if I move to Europe, I figured that's no biggie. I should be able to easily make that money back on the RMAH, essentially playing the game for free. In fact, if I did have to move, I would be able to run both the NA and European versions of the game at the same time. I could even sell stuff on both markets if I wanted to.

Finally, here's the most important reason for why all this, taken together, can make sense to some of us. If your spouse or significant other keeps bitching about your time spent playing that damn game, you will now be able to retort with: "But honey, this is my second job, I'm actually making money playing this game!"

After a long internal struggle, I am once again excited about Diablo 3. The latest annoucement, about the 4th difficulty level called Inferno makes me even happier. It makes a lot of sense in the way they decided to implement it.

I'm hoping that I can get in on the beta but I'm not counting on that as I know that beta invites will be really scarce.

So what do you guys think? Am I a dirty bastard for doing an 180 in such a short time, or does a guy have the right to change his mind?


mageic said...

you absolutly have the right to change your mind.
It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, you are the one ultimatly making the decsion and being able to make 180's shows that you can actually see both sides of the coin and choose which way you want to go.

Can't wait for it to arrive :)

Darth Solo said...

Thanks mageic! I too am a firm believer that anyone has the right to change their mind, especially after careful consideration.

Echo said...

I often turn 180 when I find wise, intelligent and moderate people to talk with. And -let me say that- I love reconsidering my opinions if people are able to provide good examples and support new theories decently.

That said, there is only one major drawback with real money AH: we wont be playing on "realms" so everyone (all US, all EU, ...) will be fighting on the same auction house at the same time.

Fast and smart palyers will make good deals while others will have a harder time. Also, any "gold guide" website posting a "new" strategy will insta-kill the market (everyone will be adopting the new strategy).

Bobbins said...

Of course you can change your mind but be aware that your initial concerns may be valid. Blizzard and other game companies are introducing models to maximise their profits giving players very little/nothing in return. Introducing on-line play gives Blizzard total control of its product so you are no longer buying a game your buying permission.

Your planning on making money on the auction house? Good Luck Blizzard has never been able to get a grip of Bots throughout Wow.

Echo said...

Darth I forgot if I already asked you but... do you have a G+ account? If yes I would love to add you to my Diablo III circle (trying to gather some mature and nice people in advance :)

If you need an invite just give me a mail to inv you.

Echo said...

Also... waiting for a blog namechange :P, something like diablo3alone or similar ;).

Darth Solo said...

@Echo #1
Yeah, the fact that there's just one big fat AH for NA, another for EU and so on, means that there will be a lot of competition. However, 2 things to keep in mind. 1 - Very rare items will still be very rare. 2 - The number of potential buyers will be much higher -> access to a much bigger market.

These concerns remain very valid in my mind. I continue to dislike the path that these big gaming companies are taking. Having said that, sometimes it makes sense to side with the enemy. The RMAH and online play are tightly intertwined and I'm starting to see why Blizzard wouldn't want to have a separate offline mode.

I will confess something: even if D3 had an offline mode, in 99% of cases I would still play online, just to have access to the AH (either of them) and for the benefit of playing with others, even random strangers. Why? Because playing in a group is more fun and gets you more items by killing more monsters quicker. The rest of 1% I would probably play my offline character(s) when I don't have internet connectivity, which is very seldom anyway.

As for making money, I stated in my post that I doubt most people will be able to make a lot of money on the RMAH. I also said that even if I made a lousy $100 a year, that's still a good thing. At the very least it means that I'm playing the game for free.

@Echo #2 + 3
You asked already but sorry man, I'm against social media for various reasons, so I don't have either Facebook or G+. Besides, G+ forces you to use your real name which I don't want. If I don't comply, I risk having this blog shut down as per their stupid policy.

As for a name change... that's a subject for another post. Stay tuned :)

Darth Solo said...

P.S. @Bobbins
I'm sure that Blizzard has learned a lot about counter-botting from WoW. I expect them to implement some really powerful anti-botting measures, especially since real money is at stake.

On the other hand, I'm not sure how true botting would work in D3. In WoW it works because it's easy to set waypoints and such but in D3 the environment is randomly generated making it harder for bots to navigate. Also, in WoW it's enough to spam a skill and kill a monster at a time, loot then move to the next. In Diablo, you got hordes of monsters coming at you all the time. It would be hard for an "AI" program to handle all that random stuff easily.

Farming, on the other hand, will be perfectly possible and also very legal. In fact, all of us will be farmers :)

Darraxus said...

I actually have a great idea for a new website for the D3 AH thing. I just have to decided if I am going to be too lazy or not to create it,

Diablo 3 Gold Tips said...

Why play WoW once Diablo 3 is out?
WoW costs you $15.99 a month, while Diablo 3 will be a $60 1 time fee (plus expansion), but will allow you to make real life money while playing the game.
Diablo3 steals lots of players from WoW in my opinion. then once players realize it's going to very hard to make real life cash profits, they will go back to wow.

Darth Solo said...

@Darraxus tell me your idea so I can steal it hahaha!

@Diablo 3 Gold Tips I have stopped playing WoW months ago and it's highly unlikely I'll go back to it, especially with Diablo 3 right around the corner. Yeah, I'm curious to find out how many people migrate to D3. Either way, I think WoW is gonna lose some subscribers in the next few months.

Anonymous said...

you are a dirty bastard for changing your mind!! :D Love your posts, love your blog. Please keep it up.

Darth Solo said...

Thanks Anon!