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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

DIABLO III on consoles WON'T require online?! What the...

Diablo III, Blizzard, Activision, Diablo, computer game, Windows, Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, always online, offline play
This past summer I wrote about being a newcomer to the Diablo computer games and how much now I wanted to play Diablo III.  The thing is, I'm not happy one bit about the latest entry in the series requiring a constant Internet connection to play, especially being the kind who favors the single-player experience over the multiplayer (true MMOs being the exception).  Ever since Diablo III rolled out last May the game has been plagued with hordes of problems involving the "always online" obligation.  It has made no sense whatsoever and it has been the one major obstacle toward my choosing to invest any money toward this game, and that's no doubt what's kept many others from buying it as well.

Now comes word that software studio Blizzard Games and its parent company Activision might - gasp! - have heard the complaints and taken them to heart!  Sorta.  The upcoming port of Diablo III to the PlayStation 3 and new PlayStation 4 consoles will NOT require a persistent Internet connection.  In the greater scheme of things it means that the PlayStation 4 itself won't need to be always-online to function (Microsoft, take note!) but for PC and Mac players of Diablo III it comes across as an insult.  The only real purpose of the constant Internet for this game was its Real Money Auction House, which players can buy and sell in-game loot and gold (and which Blizzard takes 15% of the profit).  Many have suggested that the Auction House was the true goal of Diablo III and that everything else about the game was just decoration... which might make Diablo III the most expensively beautiful Internet sweepstakes client in the history of anything.

Blizzard and Activision are taking a step in the right direction, but they need to go much further.  As I wrote back in July about how to fix Diablo III, the always-online requirement for Windows and Mac players needs to be halted (which would let the Linux users enjoy it without worry) and players should be given the choice to opt-out of the Real Money Auction House.  If it's fraud that Blizzard is concerned about, I can think of a dozen ways how that can be addressed without the cost of convenience (and good sense) to the players.

I don't own a PlayStation 3 and I doubt that I'll get a PlayStation 4 (no offense meant to Sony's faithful gamers).  But I will eagerly give Diablo III the benefit of the doubt and my money... and many others would certainly do likewise... if Blizzard could give PC gamers the same respect as our console-playing friends.