We live in an age of constant interactivity. Sites like Facebook and Twitter are constantly used by many people around the world – so it’s almost impossible to not meet someone new on the Internet. In the world of gaming, this means an increased focus on online play and interaction – to the point where if your game doesn’t have some online features, it’s pretty much dead in the water.
Naturally, the Diablo series was built on online play but the recent revelation that Diablo 3 needs a constant online connection, thereby preventing the use of mods, hasn’t gone over well with the fanbase. Now, the Vice President of Online Technologies for Blizzard has responded to the outcry.
The VP, Robert Bridenbecker, said that he was surprised that fans reacted so negatively – since online play is the main focus of the game. After all, Blizzard has always featured online gaming for the past decade – and further said that the constant online connection for Diablo 3 had more advantages than disadvantages:
“I’m actually kind of surprised in terms of there even being a question in today’s age around online play and the requirement around that. We’ve been doing online gameplay for 15 years now…and with ‘World of WarCraft’ and our roots in Battle.net and now with ‘Diablo 3,’ it really is just the nature of how things are going, the nature of the industry. When you look at everything you get by having that persistent connection on the servers, you cannot ignore the power and the draw of that.”
While not the first controversy to face Diablo 3, fans already have their own explanation for the online connection – asserting that Blizzard is attempting to stop gaming piracy, much like other companies have in recent months. Bridenbecker responded by saying that copyright protection never came up when discussing the game, and that he actually thinks that most of the DRM solutions are pretty stupid:
“Internally I don’t think [DRM] ever actually came up when we talked about how we want connections to operate. Things that came up were always around the feature-set, the sanctity of the actual game systems like your characters. You’re guaranteeing that there are no hacks, no dupes. All of these things were points of discussion, but the whole copy protection, piracy thing, that’s not really entering into why we want to do it. I’m a huge purveyor of online sites and from my standpoint, I don’t look at DRM solutions and go, ‘Wow, those are awesome.’ I look at those and say, ‘Wow, those kind of suck.’ But if there’s a compelling reason for you to have that online connectivity that enhances the gameplay, that doesn’t suck. That’s awesome.”
So why make the game online only if it’s not to prevent digital piracy? Bridenbecker explained that creating an offline-only mode would create an entirely different set of users, and that there probably wouldn’t be that many interested in an offline experience – especially with the Diablo 3 possibly heading to consoles.
Furthermore, he mentioned the fact that the offline characters of Diablo 2 couldn’t be used for Diablo 3, and explained that the whole point was to put everyone on equal footing, rather than offline players coming in with an advantage over online players. He explained, however, that private servers were still a possibility, and that you didn’t have to play with other people if you didn’t want to:
“There seem to be folks that believe that because you have to be connected, it’s like you’re on Facebook or out there with the rest of the world. That’s really not the case. Yes, you’re going to have a connection, yes, your character will be stored on a server, but it doesn’t mean you have to socialize with people. It doesn’t mean you have to do anything but play the game by yourself. You’ll still be able to have a private game. You’ll still be able to go off and play the game solo and adventure solo. You can opt to bring other people to your world if you want, but that’s up to you.”
Do you think Bridenbecker made the right decision in making Diablo 3 online only? Will you still play the game despite this?
Diablo 3 is now believed to be heading for a release in 2012 for the Xbox 360, PS3, and PC.