Friday, August 12, 2011

More reasons against Diablo 3's online-only DRM

If the reasons I gave in my World of Diablo post against Diablo 3's online-only mode weren't enough, here are some more, that I've discovered over the past few days:

1) Weekly/server maintenance. We all dislike World of Warcraft's weekly maintenance though we know it is necessary. It's almost a given that Diablo 3 will also have some form of regular maintenance. Why? Because you can't run gaming servers continuously without a minimum of downtime.

So what, many of you will say. Well, here's a scenario. It so happens that you get time off from work/school/etc right on the day when the game is being maintained. You've been itching to play D3 and now you can't, because the servers are offline. Bugger! This has happened to me on more than one occasion with WoW.

2) Some people are in the military and/or deployed overseas where they don't have access to the internet or the connection is spotty and they can't play games which require an internet connection. Sucks to be them, right? Too bad that some of them are HUGE Diablo fans. They'll just have to suck it up and wait until they get back home, in a few months/years. And if they have to redeploy, fuck'em, right?

3) Some people who are working long hours and/or have kids and thus not a lot of time on their hands, might get a little bit of time for themselves every now and then, only to find out that the game is under maintenance or their internet connection is out.

4) Here's a big one that's been bothering me lately: character names. What do I mean by this? Well, we all know that in WoW, character names are unique. I haven't seen anyone so far talk about how character names will be handled, considering that Diablo 3 can only be played online. I highly doubt Blizzard will allow duplicate names. This means that players won't be able to pick their favorite names. Damn it! It would have so worked if the game had an offline single-player mode!

I'm not saying that Diablo 3 should be offline only. No, I'm cool with the online multiplayer aspect of it. But I do realize that many people will miss LAN play and I think it's really sad that Blizzard decided not to include it. However, the inclusion of single player offline mode can be done easily and completely separate from the online mode. It's simple: keep offline characters on your computer, totally segregated from Bnet characters. Wouldn't it be nice to have more satisfied customers?


Gums said...

I read somewhere that names will be handled like they are on Starcraft 2: Each name has a non-visible set of numbers after it, so you can pick whatever name you want. If you happen to be in a game with someone with the same name, then the hidden numbers show up to distinguish you from the other person. I probably explained that poorly, but i imagine you get the idea :)

Darth Solo said...

I know exactly what you are talking about. It's the same idea as a unique id (or key) in a database. Each character will have an unique id associated with it so they can use any name they want. Well, at least they did this much for players.

Echo said...

Back from Greece so I had some time to read more infos and news diablo3-related. With a more relaxed mind I will try to give my personal point of view on the hot subjects.

What I hated at first, I now like a lot. Because I am one of those who want to play a game where everyone has the same rules, the same difficulties and the same challenges. That kind of stuff cannot be achieved with offline savegames. If you don't centralize the crucial data, you destroy the purpose of achievements, competition, progression and so on. Offline games become sandboxes where you can clone and obtain stuff with few clicks.... I don't like it anymore.

Real dollars/euros will be optional, meaning you can play with ingame gold only if you want. Adding real money sounds very risky to me but it opens new scenarios too: I like grinding for items and that could potentially become lucrative. Just think about the insane prices of rare WoW trading cards for example. That would basically be the same.

I agree it will damage those who play a lot, yes. But If a maintennance day becomes a problem for a gamer, I think the problem is not Blizzard, really. Again, it's true someone could be able to play ONLY during the maintennance day... well that would be bad luck, as it would be in WoW.
There ARE situations where you will be cut out (mountains, beach, airplane, ...) but -again- I don't think these are so commom and popular to really make the difference. Internet is available almost everywhere and if sometimes we wont be able to connect... well, let's just get some fresh air, no one will die for that.

That sucks a lot and I understand your frustration. I don't care about that because I don't play with friends (I never did in Wow and I never do with any game). If I need online friends, I just meet them while playing the game and see how things go on.

All in all I think that forcing players to be ONLINE will drastically reduce cheaters, hackers, griefers, scammers and -in general- idiots and immature people. It wont solve the problem, but it will help a lot.

About piracy: Wow was hacked long time ago and there are tons of "unofficial" servers. The truth is... few people care about them. Some do, but the majority focus on the official and well suppoirted game. Blizzard itself never really give any special attention to them, because they have never been a problem.

Darth Solo said...

Aren't these the same thing? I still have a big problem with this one. Like I said, I'm not one of those who doesn't have internet access. I have a good connection and all that. However, there are people who SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE OPTION, for various personal reasons. I feel really bad for them. And then, there's something that a guy on a forum mentioned. You're at the mercy of your internet/wireless connection. What if this awesome item drops and before you can pick it up, your connection craps out for a second? Like, say, your router resets or something. Wouldn't you be really pissed?

I gave this some thought and it opens some intriguing possibilities. I'm no longer against it. I just hope they implement something meaningful that can be done with gold, lest it lose its value.

There might be a possibility that you can access other geographical regions but that's not certain. One thing is certain, if I were to buy D3 in the US and then wish to play it over in Europe with my friends, I would have to buy another copy. And the funny thing is that I'm not even sure your account allows you to have the same game multiple time but in different regions. In the US I don't have any gamer friends anyway so it wouldn't matter.

About piracy: D3 will almost certainly be cracked but I'm not sure how good it will be so I won't even bother.

Echo said...

Drops and loot will probably last lonng enough for your connection come back if you had some internet problems, much like it already happens with WoW, for example.

Of course I see your point and I agree that this specific situation (internet lost) sucks a lot if you are in the middle of the action. But as said above, to my eyes any offline game lost its appeal because it's not a real challenge anymore. You can cheat, hack and get stuff easily (Diablo has always been the cheaters heaven) and for those who don't have online trusted friends (like me) that makes multiplayer simply impossible.

To recap, my opinion is that even if there are some disadvantages with this new model... I feel that the benefits in the long run will be much stronger.

Stabs said...

Even Blizzard has admitted there are solid reasons for allowing offline play (Rob Pardo said he likes to play on aeroplanes and won't be able to).

However they've also said that the pros outweigh the cons. In particular I'm sympathetic to the idea that they're making it harder to cheat.

In D2 you could figure out cheats too easily. Dupes, maphack even speedhack and townkill. By never releasing the code for an item anywhere it's much harder to reverse engineer that code.

In online play if I find a Brutality Blade my client will just get an Item ID number. To support offline play my client would need code for what a Brutality Blade does. If there's code on my client it can be reverse engineered. If all I have is a serial number the best I can do is re-write it.

Considering how massive a problem duping was in D2 and D1 it's very reasonable.

Echo said...

The "online only" option is also a must have for real currency (Euros and Dollars). Grinding will be much more interesting now, I guess.

Echo said...

@ Stabs

Nice blog, added to my daily visits :)

Darth Solo said...

Guys guys guys!

I agree 100% that cheating should be impossible for online play. But who cares whether you cheat when playing offline, all by yourself? Or even with your friends? Hey, I used to play Doom with god mode on in the old days, when I didn't know better. So what? That was my way of enjoying the game.

I'm not saying that I would cheat if I could play offline. Nope, the game wouldn't make sense if it became too easy.

That's why offline should be completely isolated from online.

It's not like Blizzard had only 2 options: either allow offline play with widespread cheating (including in online multiplayer) OR make it online only and not allow cheating. They can implement both options and cater to a wider audience.

I'm getting tired of debating this though. It's clear that they won't change a thing and that's the path they chose to take going forward. So I'll stop bitching :)

Echo said...

Maybe it's not THAT easy to keep the code the game for both offline and online players. Maybe we think it is... but if that was the case I am sure Blizzard would have added it.

Having the offline version means you have to release all the code and that opens the door to reverse engineering and other bad stuff, as noted in the comments above.

I don't think Blizzard had to choose between yes or not. They just picked the most obvious option (online only) and realized that it was incompatible with a possible offline version.

You know what made me a little "sad"? The fact that you will pay a posting fee for real-money auctions too. That's how Blizz will make TONS of money from Diablo III, of course... but I don't like the idea of a gambling-like game where I risk to lose real money every time I post something on the auction house.

On a side note, will we have a "lobby" to spam/advertise items or will Blizz force us to post them (or trade with friends only)? If I can skip AH real money fees but I can /trade WTS Goldenberg Chainmail 20,00$ it will be fine enough.

Darth Solo said...

I'm sure that if they were able to split the game back in 2000, they can do it now.

But meh, I'm done debating the issue. We can bitch and moan but it won't change a thing.

Well, a posting fee was a given. First, that's how auctions work in real life (and even in games). Second, Blizzard needs to make money somehow to support those Bnet servers and to continue to add new stuff to the game. Third, it discourages people to undercut each other into oblivion, which should help keep prices reasonably "high".

What surprises me though is that the fees are not percentage based.

Also, something which hasn't been mentioned (or I haven't heard yet) is whether you get the posting fee back if the item sells, like in WoW.

Echo said...


I am pretty sure the posting fee will be refunded when you win the auction. It would not make much sense ALWAYS having both auction and selling fees. Also, Blizz stated that much like in WOW you will lose the fee if you don't win the auction. That automatically implies a refund policy (in theory).

Back on topic (offline and online). I will give you a good point for the online only game. Let's suppose you have BOTH offline and online. Blizz would obviously block offline characters from playing online, that's fine. But... can you imagine the frustration if you find that awesome 1000$ rare item while questing on your offline toon? No auction house for you... that would suck a LOT.

Another possible good point: given that 60$ is a lot of money for a single game (I agree with you), thi is one of the few cases where you "can" refund the initial costs thanks to the real money AH. I am sure we will be able to raise at least 60$ during our Diablo3 career :)

Fees wont be percentage based to prevent absurd real money fees (losing few cents sucks, losing hundreds would be horrible).

Echo said...

Moving to another subject, it will be interesting to see how many active WoW players will drop WoW for Diablo3. Grinding for "gold" can be fun. Grinding for REAL money looks much more interesting and rewarding.

Would you keep spending a monthly fee to grind for virtual money... when you can spend the initial cost of the game and then try to raise some dollars/euros while grinding and having fun?

I would quit WoW for sure (I already did months ago anyway).

Echo said...

BAAAAAAHH!!!! Years later they finally decided to add some sort of appearance changer tool. You can basically wear Tier12 stuff with the look of Tier2. People begged that for how much... years?

Some time ago that feature alone would have dragged me back to the game. But now not even a free account wold bring me back to Azeroth. Can't wait to play and foucs on D3, really.

Darth Solo said...

Well, you have a good point there about finding the $1000 item while playing offline but you would know that beforehand so you would weigh the risks.

Yeah, I thought about the cost of the game and if you take the RMAH into consideration, it doesn't matter anymore. I'm sure almost anyone should be able to make at least $1 an hour playing it.

The WoW appearance thing doesn't do anything for me, but I quit WoW months ago anyway. It would certainly NOT bring me back to it.

In fact, I'm sure lots of people will quit WoW for D3. Many of them are probably still playing WoW because they are bored waiting for D3.

Darth Solo said...

P.S. I would like to see WoW's subscriber numbers after D3 is launched.

Malvius said...

Does D3 have a subscription fee?

Echo said...

Nope, D3 will be free (60$ initial cost apart).

Darth Solo said...

@Malvius no no no! Gosh no! That would have killed it for sure.

You just buy the game for (likely) $60 and then you can play to your heart's content. The only catch is that it's online-only, meaning that you need an internet connection to play it and you need to stay connected while playing it, even if playing on your lonesome.