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?
Patch 1.0.5 commentary
1 year ago