“They never had a chance; literally.” ~ Anonymous eyewitness
Recently, Blizzard announced the much anticipated Diablo 3; announced back in 2008, would require a constant connection to their Battle.net servers in order to play it in any way. The news that the game would effectively have no offline “single player” angered some gamers, and touched off a heated debate on message boards everywhere concerning the games move to online only status.
The main debate is how people with slow internet speed or unstable connections are supposed to play the game. The answer is simple; they’re not going to.
According to Blizzard, the decision was made for a variety of reasons, including keeping characters and items created with hacks out of the online community and supporting a robust lineup of social gaming features in order to create a persistent game-world feel. These are good reasons, yes?
However, I, and apparently a few others, have a few issues with this. Contrary to popular belief, a lot of people still have lousy, or at least sketchy internet, opposed to people who have great internet. I’m not going to get into specifics, but it is a well documented fact. After all, a whole, national organization has been created to address the situation.
Now, if Diablo 3 was originally announced to be an online game from the start, nobody would have room to complain. However, a lot of people were salivating over this game for 4 years before they found out they wouldn’t be able to play it, or be able to play it very well.
I also have yet to see a decent explanation as to why there is no offline, single-player mode. It would seem a simple solution to cheating would be to make offline characters unable to enter the online realm. However, according to Blizzard, it would be hard to keep things like this from happening.
I’m not so convinced being online all of the time will prevent cheating, either, but if you say so.
Speaking of “item duping”, I find it interesting this announcement comes at the same time Blizzard announced a real-money auction house feature to be included in the game. Not that I’m saying the online only thing was tacked on to accommodate this totally unnecessary and, quite frankly, scary feature, but it is a strange coincidence. However, I’m sure the idea of people using duplication cheats in single player mode and then selling their bogus wares for real money in the online world had something do to with it.
Why do we have a real-money auction house again? I think I need to go back and do some reading, because I missed the part where people actually asked for something like that. Maybe it combats gold and item farmers, or maybe getting a cut from player auctions (because who will sell things for game gold if they can get cash) is almost like a subscription fee.
Now, real-money bullp*ss aside, I can see how games are trending towards online only. A lot of people like “social” gaming (which is really the opposite of what it sounds like, if you think about it) and more and more games designers are building around multi-player. It does provide quite an exciting gaming experience. However, I think there is still a substantial base of gamers who still want single-player content and don’t want anything to do with the circus involved with online gaming. Even having to have a constant, speedy connection at this point in time is no guarantee games will run smoothly. Most people I know who played online games are still constantly nagged by issues, from problems with internet providers and server issues to just plain laggy days. People don’t mind putting up with it for a few games they enjoy, but having to deal with it for every game you want to play (console included) would get old really fast.
Online only gaming may very well be the future, but I don’t think we’re quite ready for it yet.