The internet is abuzz this morning with some Diablo III information coming directly to Blizzard. The most ranty one (with reason) comes from RockPaperShotgun. I’ll paste here the announcements (and their reasoning) and talk a bit about it, but you can read the full article (and it’s comments) following the link.
1) The game requires a constant internet connection. It cannot be played offline.
“One of the things that we felt was really important was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto Battle.net. But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online.”
Blizzard gives a good reason for this, but we all can see that this is mainly a form of DRM. What annoys me in this is that I’ll have something else to take care.
For example, when I’m playing Rift, I have to be sure that my computer is not doing anything stupid and that my router and ISP are also not doing anything stupid. And I (or anyone in the house) can’t do anything stupid on the internet. If I suddenly decided to check a Steam game (let’s say, because Torchlight II was released) and I’m downloading it, affecting my ping times, I could be kicked out of the game because of that; if my parents get one of those massive PPT files in their inbox while their computer is on, my ping times go up and I could be kicked out. On the other hand, under any circumstance I need to worry about those things while playing Terraria (or Trine or Diablo 2 or Torchligh [the first]).
Besides, we all know that someone, somewhere, will hack it so it won’t need an internet connection and you will be able to play offline (without access to any of the auction hosues) and the only people who will have to deal with this bullshit are those who bought the game.
2) Mods are “expressly prohibited.”
I never modded my Diablo 2 (and only today I heard about Median XL) or even Torchlight (‘cause they managed to make the mods platform dependent and most didn’t work on OS X), so it’s kinda hard to say if that’s a bad thing or it seems ok. On the other hand, I modded the hell out of World of Warcraft without any problems and it seems StarCraft II also allows mods, on single player and multiplayer. It’s not like Blizzard doesn’t have the knowledge to do it properly, so… it kinda feels like there is something smelly in this.
3) Items in the auction house are bought and sold for real-life money.
“We think it’s really going to add a lot of depth to the game. If I have more money than time I can purchase items, or if I’m leet in the game I can get benefits out of it. The players really want it. This is something that we know people are going to do either way. We can provide them a really safe, awesome, fun experience, or they’ll find ways of doing it elsewhere.”
Before you jump into rage mode like the people in RPS, know that there will be a ingame gold auction house which doesn’t involve real life money. On the other hand, you have to think if someone will use it.
If you find an unique item (the ones with gold names in Diablo II) and you can’t use it ‘cause it’s for another class, what would you do? Would you put that on the gold AH or the real money AH? The only way people would use the gold AH would be if there was an ingame sink for it — something like mounts in World of Warcraft, in the Burning Crusade expansion (‘cause mounts are fucking cheap these days). But, again, why would Blizzard add a gold sink to let people use the gold AH when they can just do nothing and let people use the real money AH and get a cut of it?
Also, just reading RPS article, I couldn’t stop thinking that it would go around some virtual currency, much like Atari Points on Star Trek Online. You can earn those points in game, which you can use to buy other stuff (even on other Atari games) or you could buy them with real life money, but you can’t convert those points to real life money. But then, reading the full article on MMO-Champion, it seems there is a way to take this money out of it, so probably it won’t go this way. Also, I’m pretty sure PayPal is a lot happy this morning (what? Do you think I’ll be able to transfer this money directly to my Brazilian bank account?)
And, in the very end, who will know the source of item? When I was playing EVE and my minerals where sold to some random guy, I always wondered if that was a real guy, some with factory or simply a play from CCP to make it feel like another player was buying my stuff instead of the game getting it. In this case, could I really know if the item came from another player or it’s Blizzard dropping some item in the AH? What will stop Blizzard from, say, dropping a huge amount of items under fake players (or internal employees dropping them to make them look legit, under different names) near the end of a fiscal year?
After that, this game lost a lot of its appeal to me.