Activision-Blizzard’s Diablo III DRM issue isn’t fixed with apologies

Diablo 3’s error woes have been making big waves, and RockPaperShotgun‘s Nathan Grayson has written an excellent editorial explaining why people shouldn’t let Activision-Blizzard off the hook just because they apologized.  Doing so, he says, sends a signal to other developers that players will be forgiving if they decide to follow the same route.  One quote in particular, from id Software’s Tim Willits, is provided as evidence:

“Diablo III will make everyone else accept the fact you have to be connected. If you have a juggernaut, you can make change. I’m all for that. If we could force people to always be connected when you play the game, and then have that be acceptable, awesome. In the end, it’s better for everybody. Imagine picking up a game and it’s automatically updated. Or there’s something new you didn’t know about, and you didn’t have to click away. It’s all automatically there. But it does take juggernauts like [Diablo III] to make change.”

That’s not the kind of change we can believe in, folks, but Diablo 3 probably will change it all anyway.  Here’s another piece discussing the stupidity of the “online single-player” game, on GameInformer.  They say:

So what’s the big deal about asking them to take the next step to be online all the time? For one, it means that we as gamers no longer own the games we play. By purchasing a game like Diablo III, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying the right to use a product at the discretion of its owner.

This much should be obvious, don’t you think?  When you play a multiplayer game which hosted on a company’s servers (see: Metal Gear Online) you know that they might shut down the servers some day, even though you paid full price for it.  You paid for access, yes, but without any promise that there will be something to access a few years from now.  That sucks, but at least it makes sense from a logistics point of view.  If you remember Diablo II’s multiplayer service, any character left inactive was automatically deleted after three months, saving Blizzard’s servers the storage headache.  But why in the hell should a single-player game carry the same fate?  It’s a greedy, short-sighted, and cruel system of control.  Is Activision-Blizzard contractually obligated to provide you anything in return for your dollars?  No, of course not.  They could shut down Diablo 3 tomorrow, if they wanted to.  Or they could just cut you off, for whatever reason.  The ridiculous errors people are encountering drive home the bleak reality of this.

UPDATE: Jim Sterling’s coverage of the MetaCritic backlash is worth looking at.  Although I keep noticing people say that Blizzard has been working on the game since 2001.  Much like StarCraft 2, the game was not actually in serious development for a decade; I’m sure they were tinkering, but the water only started to boil when Activision bought Blizzard, and started promising that a new Blizzard game would be released every year from now on.

OUCH: Leave it to John Walker to take a righteous sword to Diablo III’s many problems like no other.

Specifics on Diablo III’s online-only DRM problems

RockPaperShotgun has detailed the ways in which Diablo III‘s online-only system will affect players, including being logged out in the middle of a game due to server problems or connections, a cooldown period, and no ability to pause the game.

According to John Walker:

You can’t pause. In fact, in most ways, the game acts like an MMO. For instance, quit it, and you’re given the optional cooldown to have your player clear the server properly. But it’s not an MMO. It’s not even close to an MMO. So when I’m playing the single-player game, and I’m in the middle of a frenzied mob, and there’s a knock at the front door, there’s nothing I can do. As happened to me yesterday. Twice. On another occasion I was surprised by a phone call that led to my having to do some other things. I’d safely left my character in a cleared area, but long between checkpoints. When I came back to the PC, I’d been idle for too long and the game had logged me out.

Being idle logs you out?  No pausing the game?  Dropped connections?  This is Diablo, not World of Warcraft.  No matter what the justifications for including an online-only Digital Rights Management system, or how many great “features” come with this connectivity, this is disappointing and unnecessary.  This wouldn’t bother me so much if Blizzard wasn’t a leader in the PC gaming field, being copied by dozens of other companies; they set the standard for what games should be doing.

Of course, the real blame still goes to Activision.

I suggest you read the full post, as it explains even more annoyances with the system.

Blizzard is now soulless: confirmed

Listen.  I’ll admit when I’m wrong.  Why, I can remember a day when I was positive that StarCraft 2 would be a legendary example of great game design, and even tried to follow the online Korean tournament scene, GomTV’s “GSL”, you may remember.  I wrote an article about the design principles I believed were behind the choices for the three races’ units and features, then watched as Blizzard fumbled patching and balance until it was clear: they’re clueless.

Well the days have gotten darker for ActivisionBlizzard, as they’ve revealed their greedy little plans to control and monetize everything.  Surely this is Activision’s part in milking Blizzard dry, but that doesn’t pardon anything.  What’s the big sin?  There’s actually 3, as reported by PC Gamer, and summed up by RockPaperShotgun…

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