Well… If you haven’t heard yet, Blizzard has made some “decisions” about their upcoming blockbuster game, Diablo III. Which is obviously going to leave the industry forever changed and players irrevocably anointed with the power of the rainbow.
People have been griping about this game since the day it was announced. Griping isn’t quite a strong enough word, I would actually be inclined to say straight-up-bitching. That isn’t really that fair to Blizzard and the people actually working on it, to be sure, but before you think I’m going all bleeding-heart on you, I’d like to add also that I do sympathize with the players to degree.
Let me qualify that statement.
Diablo was an amazing game. Diablo II was even more amazing. Diablo II’s expansion pack singlehandedly kept me from playing any MMORPG whatsoever until Blizzard’s own World of Warcraft was released. In fact, I believe World of Warcraft’s strongest competitor in the near future will be none other than Diablo III.
Diablo has set a quality standard for the genre, and expectations have been set. When that experience is threatened, some people are gonna freak out. They want their holy grail, they want the same flavor from before, but bigger and better. Folks are afraid that it’s not going to go down that way, and deep down they just don’t want to be disappointed with the product they’ve been clamoring for for so many years. Many players have spent hours making suggestions on the forums and discussing what would and would not be better for the game, some to be a pest, but many also to make an honest contribution to that which they love.
So. Let’s review the facts that have people so upset…in no particular order.
Fact 1: In order to play Diablo III, players must have an active connection to Blizzard’s server. Even for Single-player.
Fact 2: Not only are Mods to Diablo III not supported, they will be “expressly prohibited” by EULA.
Fact 3: Diablo III will feature an in-game Auction House in which players can buy and sell in-game items…for real-world currency.
That’s pretty heavy. I’m not even really sure where to begin.
I guess I’ll just tackle them in order. Having to be connected to Blizzard’s servers, even to play Single-player is pretty inconvenient, but it’s a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you’re establishing a method of control against cheating…but if you’re playing single-player, who really cares who’s cheating? It’s on the multiplayer ‘realms’ that it matters. So in effect, they’ve alienated anyone who might have been planning to buy the game as entertainment when they travel…to play on their laptop or netbook.
I guess that works into parts two and three a bit, you can prevent people from modding if they’re always connected to the servers, and they can still participate in the Auction House fun, which I’m sure Blizzard is taking a cut on…but I’ll come back to that. What could possibly be causing Blizzard to come down so hard on Modding? Something that they worked so hard to foster in the Starcraft II community, no less. I really don’t understand it. Diablo II had some of the most mind blowing mods.
Are people upset about it? Yup. Are people still going to buy it? Yup. Are people going to hack these prohibitions out of the game anyway?
You bet your ass.
The base game itself is going to be outstanding, I have no doubt. The inevitable expansion(s) will surely add to it, even if they’re only close to the caliber of the game’s predecessor…but there comes a time where people still want to have some fun or goof around with the building blocks available, or just see how much more the game can do.
Make no mistake, Blizzard, this will happen. I’m sorry, but it will. And if it does while you still accomplish your goals, then great. But let’s be honest here. If for no other reason than piracy alone, there will be a cracked version of the game floating around where people can play without internet connections and over a LAN within months. If you still got what you want by protecting your online community, then well done, but Modding is going to add a lot to the game, I’ll admit it happily, and I will be glad for those who work to deliver that experience. Doesn’t mean I’m going to give you any less money personally, but for others I’m sure it will.
So let’s talk about that Auction House thing. I’m shocked myself to say it, and I’m sure a certain friend of mine is laughing right now, but I actually think this is a good idea.
Let’s paint a picture, Diablo II is in its heyday. People are hacking, people are duping, people are buying and selling items on eBay that aren’t legit, and are getting deleted, and players are getting screwed. Selling game items was against the EULA. Did it stop anyone? Hell no. (See also: “must always be online” and “no mods allowed.”) So, instead of fighting a losing war, Blizzard said “OK, you know what? Screw these assholes. We’re going to make it a feature of our own game, so people have a safe and regulated place to deal, we’ll take a cut to keep things running, and everyone will be happy.”
Except…everyone isn’t happy. Some people think that this is going to ruin the game and turn it into World of Warcraft somehow. I disagree. You’re going to get people buying and selling items no matter what. There will always be some foreign asshole looking to scam people out of their cash for items or whatever. At least this way people have the option to participate and know that they won’t get boned over some item that was a hacked dupe. I personally am looking forward to selling all of my items every time I decide I’m getting kind of tired of the game and stop playing for a while, as I’ve done with Diablo II all of about a dozen or two times. It might even mean free content updates and mini-expansion patches a la World of Warcraft. (hint, hint, Blizzard.) They can make this a positive thing. People were pissed about having to be online all the time for Starcraft II also, and it’s kind of nice being able to chat with everyone even when I’m playing the campaign. There are positives and negatives to the situation.
Is it going to make the game not worth playing? I seriously doubt it.
Have a great week! I’ll see you haters in Sanctuary all the same.
And so you people don’t think I’ve gone all soft on you. Here’s something more entertaining than me: (Note: I was told this is an actor…so, yeah.)