“Dastardly Diablo 3 Drama” or “Ostensibly (and Sensibly) Online”
There seems to be a lot of drama over DRM. Ubisoft, of course, took it a step further by saying that their persistently online DRM solution was a stellar success, leaving a lot of confused fans in this statement’s wake.
Blizzard recently also announced that their upcoming Diablo III will also require players to be consistently online to be able to play, but this resulted in a very odd backlash, particularly from my peers in the MMO blogging community. I can understand people who primarily play single-player games to be upset about this. After all, they just pop the DVD in, and online or not, they can play to their heart’s content.
Blizzard in their defense, offers the following points:
- A persistent friends list (debatable, especially if you like playing solo).
- Cross-game chat via the RealID system (again debatable).
- Persistent characters that are stored server-side (no more having to play online once every 90 days, nor item duplication cheats) (valid, it does ensure almost no client-side hacks or item-duping. I say almost because every time you make a system hacker-proof, groups like Lulsec and Anonymous feel a disturbance in the force).
- Persistent party system (debatable).
- Player-versus-player and public game matchmaking (valid, you would need to be online for PvP).
- Dynamic drop-in/out for co-op (valid, if you have friends playing with you, it would be stellar if you could drop in an out of a friend’s game world as needed, much like Borderlands).
- Larger item stash that gets shared among all of your characters (at the moment, up to 10) (nonsensical, they could easily increase offline storage, this is more of a ploy to justify the DRM).
- The auction house (valid, you would need to be online to play the Auction House with potentially hundreds of thousands of other sellers/buyers).
- The Achievement system and detailed stat-tracking, both of which feed into the final point (valid):
- The Banner system, a visual way to display your prowess in the game. Banners start out like emblems, where you can choose from an array of symbols, patterns, and overall shape/design. Then, you can tweak its appearance through Achievements and other accomplishments. Examples Pardo cites include whether the character is in Hardcore mode, how many Achievements have been earned, how many PVP victories, and so forth. Additionally, the Banners also have gameplay features; in-game, rather than use Town Portal, you can click on a player’s Banner to instantly teleport over to said player (debatable if you don’t play with others, limited use if you do).
As an MMO player and a Star Craft II player (which also requires you to be online for achievement tracking and, of course, PvP), these seem like perfectly valid reasons.
My point is that as MMO players, for years now, we are used to playing persistent worlds that require a highly stable and reliable connections. In fact, our favorite genre of gaming would not exist without the ability to stay online consistently. Yet there is this angst over ‘being made to’ stay online to play the single-player version. In principle, I do feel that if you are a player who enjoys playing solo, you shouldn’t have to worry about a consistent online connection. But at least the MMO players should have no issue with this. We do this on a daily basis, with the dozens of MMOs that grace our screens for hours on end.