Thursday, August 4, 2011

World of Diablo

I've had a couple of days to think, after my bitching, moaning, thrashing, screaming and ranting about Diablo 3 and I've realized that I was wrong. Yep, I was looking at this whole affair from the wrong angle.

You see, Diablo 3 is not actually the successor to Diablo 2. No, it is, in fact, World of Diablo. Now it all makes sense: the online-only DRM, the geographic restrictions, even the cash auction house. It's not an RPG, but an MMORPG. You don't pay a subscription but Blizzard does expect to turn a little profit on the side by capitalizing on this auction house. I'm sure they have other ideas on how to make even more money. Hey, I'm ok with that, as long as it doesn't impact the game.

Seeing that the game will be locked, it would have been nice if it were free-to-play. But again, I wasn't expecting that and I don't mind paying for a quality product. In fact, I was desperate for the chance to give Blizzard my money. Alas, it wasn't meant to happen.

Let me explain once again why this "stunt" that Blizzard is pulling is such a bad thing for certain people. As a case study, I will use myself. I'm European, living in the US. I might stay here for the rest of my life but there's also a strong possibility that I will go back to Europe in a couple of years.

Let's leave aside the fact that an always-online game that you want to play in single player mode is a bad idea. I will return to this point later.

Diablo 3's restrictive DRM means that:
1) I won't be able to play the game in Europe, since it is restricted to US servers.
2) If I can choose to play on US servers, by some miracle, I'm sure the lag will be pretty bad. At the very least, it won't be similar to playing in the same geographical region.
3) Even if 2) is true, meaning that I will be able to play on US servers, my friends in Europe will all have the EU version of the game. Which means... you guessed it, I won't be able to play D3 with them at our annual week-long LAN fest. Yes, we used to have these every year (they still do) and the 5 of us would play mostly... Diablo 2 for the entire week, leveling our characters from 1 to 80, subsisting on steak, wine and beer, no wives or girlfriends to distract us.

I can hear some of you saying "Wait, you're complaining about having to pay an extra $60 in the event that you move to Europe?" Well, yeah, for some more reasons:
4) I expect to buy a (SINGLE PLAYER) game once and be able to play it anywhere in the world.
5) Blizzard is planning at least 2 expansions to this game, meaning that it won't be "just" $60. Each expansion will cost the usual $40 or so, meaning that I have the potential of paying up to $150 all over again, thanks to their DRM scheme.
6) If you think that $60 is no big deal, I'll be happy to accept your $60 and I'll stop bitching instantly.

If all these reasons are still not enough, here's another one:
7) Let's say I can get over all of the above and I'm even willing to buy the game twice, just so I can play it in another country (in SINGLE PLAYER mode). BUT, all my characters will be stuck on the US server and lost forever (unless I return to the US). Has anyone even considered the implications of that? All my blood and tears and hard work leveling those characters and equipping them will be for naught and I would have to start from scratch when I go back to Europe. Just imagine if you were forced to leave all your WoW characters behind, the ones you spent a few years on. You wouldn't like that a lot, would you? But Diablo should not have been an MMO in the first place!

I should have seen this coming, what with StarCraft 2 pulling the same bullshit. But I never imagined that D3 would follow the same damn path. The devs were careful not to spill the beans on this for 3 years but all the while they gave the impression that Diablo 3 would definitely have a single player mode. While some of us suckers took this to mean that it will be playable offline, without having to go through Bnet, I guess the joke was on us.

Now here's some more food for thought: I'm sure that if Blizzard had announced, in addition to the triple bombshell, that not only Diablo 3 would be exclusively online but you'd have to pay a monthly subscription to play it, a lot more people would have bitched about it but in the end most of them would have still bought it. In fact, now that I think about it, I believe that Blizzard has really lost an opportunity to further monetize on this, seeing that D3 is now an MMO.

So once again, why is online-only SINGLE PLAYER a very bad (dare I say retarded) idea, even for those of us who have access to high-speed broadband? Here's a bunch of reasons:
- I'll start with the usual: if you're on a plane, on a beach, in a cabin in the mountains or anywhere else where there's no internet access, guess what: you can't play
- your internet goes down: you can't play
- your router or modem drops the connection or resets: you get disconnected
- a storm in the area knocks down your cable: you can't play
- Blizzard goes out of business (seems unlikely but it can happen): you can't play
- 10-20 years from now, you can still play Diablo 2 but chances are you won't be playing Diablo 3
- an important one: remember when Ubisoft/Sony/others were DDOSed? That can happen just as easily to Blizzard. Guess what: you can't play your SINGLE PLAYER game if something like that occurs.

But it's no big deal if you can't play your game a day or two right? I say it is, because it didn't have to be like that. All we ever wanted from Diablo 3 was a modern graphics engine and some tweaked skills and classes. The fan community would have been happy. I'm not against change and progress but I do oppose change which doesn't make sense and/or hurts the paying customer.

The way things are looking right now, I will hang on to my money and see how things evolve. I want to play this game badly. For those who've waited 10 years for it, you all know how it can be. But I don't want to pay twice for it, just because Blizzard decided to tighten their grip on how people can enjoy this game.

In my previous post I mentioned piracy. Let me make one thing clear. I don't advocate piracy. Blizzard's games would be the last things in the world that I would pirate, even if I supported it. Yet, I do hope Diablo 3 will be cracked by some enterprising individuals, just to stick it to Blizzard. I hope they enable the game to be played in single player mode, offline, and perhaps even patch in some form of LAN. Personally I won't touch this cracked version because I don't want to but I hope it will send a message to Blizzard that players are deserving of some respect when their money is on the line and if that respect is not forthcoming, the company doesn't deserve any in return.

One thing is certain: the genie is out of the bottle. Blizzard has chosen the dark path and it will stick to it forevermore. There's no turning back at this point and we won't be seeing any more offline games from them.

I might be overreacting. I am hot blooded, after all. Who knows, it might turn out that I can play my US version in Europe, with my friends, after all. But I'm not counting on that. Until then, I'm watching from the sidelines.


Sealskjaer said...

I'm tipping that to play on a different region than the one you originally selected will take a paid transfer like the server transfers in Wow. Gotta keep the bank balance ticking over after all.

Darth Solo said...

Hmm, maybe that wouldn't be too bad, though it looks like a ripoff since I should be able to play anywhere in the world...

Anyway, WoW doesn't allow you to play in another region than the one your game is registered in, even if you wanted to pay.

Echo said...

I am currently in a lovely Greek island for my holidays and I-ve just learned from your blog the latest -puke- news about Diablo III.

#Online only# is what made me feel very bad. I was 100% sure to buy the game because I loved the SINGLE PLAYER old chapters.

Online only is a NO NO for me. Too bad, damnit.

Darth Solo said...

Well, I hope you will enjoy your Greek vacation! It really is sad. A lot of people will skip game thanks to this intentional oversight.

Anonymous said...

I just purchased one shiny,red Alfa Romeo MiTo in Italy, and I was expecting to import it and drive it here in the US. It seems it is going to cost me quite a bit of money for transportation AND for required modifications to the car. What does this have to do with Diablo 3? Not much, maybe.

Darth Solo said...

@Anonymous umm... ooook... I can't say I'm a big fan on the Alfa MiTo but why didn't you find out what the costs are before buying it? Besides, it's a gamble to import a car which doesn't have a dealership network in the US. But that's just my opinion. If it makes you happy, go for it, by all means.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Diablo 2 came at just the right time for you and became your perfect game and no other Diablo title will ever be able to live up to that. I loved Fallout 2 and was not that happy with Fallout 3 so I sort of understand your disappointment. But I just wonder if you should you have invested so much hope in one game.

Tesh said...

Online only makes sense for those participating in the RMT market.

...but I still detest it. There should be an offline mode, even if there's a clear caveat that characters created thusly can't migrate to "live" servers.

As it is, Torchlight 2 will be getting my money. Blizzard will make plenty off of other people, just not me.

Darth Solo said...

@Anonymous I played Diablo 1 first, with its unofficial Hellfire expansion, before Diablo 2. So I spent at least 10 years of my life playing the Diablo series. To me, there hasn't been a game that quite compares to Diablo. That's why I had high hopes for D3.

As for Fallout, I loved both 1&2 but hated 3.

@Tesh there should be, I agree. Having more choices is always better than having less. I'm a lot more pissed that it doesn't have an offline mode at all than the fact that multiplayer is online only. Though it would have been very nice of them to include LAN.

As for Torchlight, I really didn't like the first one. I doubt the second one will be better in terms of feel, but I hope they have a demo so I can try before I buy.