As you know, Blizzard kicked up a significant amount of controversy by requiring online-only for Diablo 3, which accomplishes nothing but infuriating gamers who certainly do not like being told what to do.
At a press event sometime last week, Alex Mayberry, the senior producer on Diablo 3 talked about the required connection, saying “You can play by yourself but your character is going to be saved on our servers. You have to authenticate through our servers to be able to play the game. I think it’s not just Diablo 3 but with our games as a whole we’re tying everything into Battle.net these days. We can provide a much a much more stable, connected, safer experience than we could if we let people play off-line.”
This was said a few days before the news of online-only hit mainstream media, at which point gamers flipped a fork over the fact that this was how it was going to be.
Russ Frushtick of MTV interviewed Robert Bridenbecker who had said “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.”
I admitted in my previous posting on this controversy that the server-side character saving was a good idea, but I am more than capable of protecting my savefiles however I wish. When asked if this was to curb piracy, he denied it, saying it was more to prevent hacks and dupes. He had this to day however about an inclusion of an offline mode for those that want it. “Let’s say we want to create an offline capacity, you’re introducing a separate user flow, a separate path that players are going to go down. And, at the end of the day, how many people are going to want to do that?”
He also said that those who started playing Diablo 3 online would have to start from scratch if players were not stored on the server. This is actually a very small price to pay, as the risks of getting high-tier drops falls sharply when you are alone and not under threat of ninja looters and gankers. I can easily see the value of items dropping and illicit drop rates ruining the economy very quickly. They can defend it all they want, but I have a huge problem with being forced to be online for a single-player game. Especially with my internet being shoddy as it is.
On a plus side however, Diablo 3 may be released this year as they want it out by the end.