Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Diablo III: Lord of Bling?

Posted by Rampant Coyote on August 2, 2011

The Diablo III news at the beginning of this week caused quite a stir:

1. The game requires a constant Internet connection to play. Basically it is “online only,” no matter how you want to argue semantics.

2. Items in the auction house will be bought and sold for real-world money. With Blizzard taking a cut, of course.

3. Because of #1 and #2, mods will be completely prohibited.

Rock Paper Shotgun has a commentary with links to news sources.

I totally understand the nerdrage being leveled against these plans, though I don’t actually agree with it. In principle, I think, “Hey, great idea!” Seriously, I’ve had ideas about doing something like this myself for years now. And I think most players, if they can be rational about it for a minute, would agree. It’s a clever idea. If they like it, fine: they can try it out. If not, big deal: they can vote with their wallets and ignore it entirely.

Really, all this is is something of a half-way point in-between a simple multiplayer-capable game and an MMO.  Great! Let’s explore that. It could be cool! And it’s pretty much guaranteed to make Blizzard a ton of money. Battle.net will more than pay for itself through all this.

The real problem, IMHO, is the name. If the game bore a completely different name – published by Blizzard – it would probably be getting welcomed with open arms but a lot of concern over whether or not they were creating a competitor for World of Warcraft. If it was even called, “Diablo Online,” and marketed as a spin-off of the series, it would be a whole ‘nother story.  There’d still be some nerdrage, of course, but the fanboys would be doubling down on expressing their love. Instead, people are expecting a continuation of the type of experience they’ve come to expect. For some, this innovation will be an improvement, or at least a non-issue. But for others, it’s enough of a fundamental departure for the series to derail them. It’s a failure of the sequel to continue the legacy of the earlier titles.

It’s sorta like how I view the Matrix sequels and the Star Wars prequel trilogy. If they were stand-alone titles, without the legacy to live up to, that could stand or fall on their own, they’d have been… well, not good movies, but probably “okay” but forgettable popcorn flicks. Their biggest sin was dragging their predecessors down into mediocrity (or sub-mediocrity) with them.  And now it’s hard to go back and watch the original Star Wars trilogy and not see Darth Vader as some whiny stalker-boy creep instead of the total badass he is supposed to be.

This is the problem with what some view a fundamental shift in the Diablo experience. Though in this case, it’s not quite as stupid or as big of a shift as Final Fantasy XI being an MMO.

I will say my own interest in the game has waned somewhat in light of this announcement.  I’m sure I’d play it the same way I played the other two games. The Diablo games were always much more fun playing with friends, but that was an option only occasionally. Playing solo was almost always superior to playing with a pick-up group, for me. So if I grab it, I’ll probably play it solo or occasionally with close friends, and thus not feel the need to “keep up with the joneses” or thus be tempted by the real-money auction house.  So that’s not a big deal.

Being unable to play on those rare occasions I am without online connectivity? Or being unable to play it at all if, at some point down the road, Blizzard / Activision pulls the plug on support? It rubs me the wrong way, but in all honesty it’s also not a huge deal. But while small, it is enough of an issue that I may not bother getting the game. If I was still in the exclusively mainstream game world, facing a dearth of new RPG titles, I’d probably suck it up and get it anyway. I may do that as it is. But as an indie game fan, with a wealth of options and a giant backlog of titles to play, that may have been enough to drop its priority. Earlier, my default decision was to get this game on day one. I really only needed an excuse not to buy it. Blizzard may have provided me with one. We’ll see.

But this is really less of a statement about Diablo III than a statement of how much I’m enjoying the competition.


Filed Under: Biz, Mainstream Games, News - Comments: 24 Comments to Read

  • eedok said,

    To be honest this is no big deal for me. I never really played Diablo 2 outside of closed battle.net so the always on internet required isn’t too big of a deal for me at all. That and with mobile internet plans growing like crazy, there being wifi in almost every household and workplace, and even airplanes now providing wifi with flights there’s not many places where I can game and not be on the internet.

    As for the p2p real money auction house, it’s Blizzard going the legalizing marijuana route, by putting scammers and the likes out of business by providing it legitimately, and taking their cuts. Hopefully it’ll cut down on the number of people spamming go to d2items.com for you all your diablo item needs! Secondly it provides a winning situation for people like me who will play furiously for like 2 months+ through, then get bored of the game, to then sell what my character has so when I feel like playing again I don’t feel tempted into not starting over. Some people who are good at predicting the market could also use it to provide supplemental income buying items low and selling high. In short, it’s something that’s been happening since Diablo 2 and continues in WoW(look at how many gold selling ads you see on google ads), that Blizzard is just cashing in on.

    As for mods, I can’t name a diablo mod that I remember being good, and the earlier games weren’t exactly mod friendly, so I don’t think it’s a big loss there either

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Yeah, I’ve got a fundamental problem with the “must be online and connected to our servers constantly to play” thing. Probably because I play so many retro titles from publishers that no longer exist (except possibly in name only) to support their titles. AFAK, Diablo 1 is still good to go on Battle.net, so Blizzard’s proven it has longevity (at least before being bought by – or buying – Activision). Nor have I played Diablo 1 in almost ten years.

    So that bugs me a little, but it’s not a show-stopper.

  • Runner said,

    I’ve also seen the trailer at RPS, and it looks very bland.

    Of course, it’s not going to change reality, and there’ll still be hundreds of thousands of people queuing up on Day 1. Bully for them I guess.

  • Warstrike said,

    I have a problem with server hosted games. I am no more than 10 minutes outside of a 100K town. even that close, my ONLY high-speed option is satellite. Which is fast enough, but lags like mad. I agree, if they had called it Diablo Online, I would have understood better, and not been so crushed when I was told I can’t really play it. But they didn’t, and now I can’t play something I had been looking forward to since they announced it. I guess that’s why I have the nerdrage problem – Blizzard just did the equivalent of announcing Christmas is canceled(for me).

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I worry that I may just be becoming an old fart ‘cuz I’m not (yet) super-thrilled by this next release. Maybe I just got burned out by playing too much Diablo 2 or something. But mainly it just feels like there’s too many games for me to play, and not enough time. And nothing I’ve heard about Diablo III *yet* has me all that excited about it yet. Yeah, it’ll be very very pretty, which is neat, but… what else?

  • Andy_Panthro said,

    I’ll be playing the more interesting looking Grim Dawn, from Crate Entertainment – http://www.grimdawn.com/

    I’m certainly not keen on the always-online part. As much as people talk about internet connects being far better than they were, it’s important to remember how poor the availability is for the majority of gamers outside of certain countries or cities. Also, a lot of folks still have caps on their internet use, so that rules out this sort of online-only content.

    Personally, I wish they’d just had a choice at character creation, “offline” or “online”, and that way it would get around this issue.

    As for the online auction, I actually think it’s a rather interesting idea which could work well. If someone has a lot of time, they can make money selling their loot. If you don’t have the time but do have the money, you can buy the loot to kit out your character.

  • Eldiran said,

    How big a deal it is, it seems, is directly correlated to how interested one is in the game. For people who are only mildly interested in Diablo III it seems like a novel, if moderately annoying, idea. For people who were madly in love with Diablo II but now can’t play III at all, it’s like murder.

    Personally I probably wasn’t going to play it regardless, but it invokes my nerdrage anyway because of my deep hatred of MMOs. They’re like a virus, spreading across the games industry…

  • DeFknoL said,

    I think you’ve got a great point on the expectation factor being a significant contributor to the nerdrage. I guess I always had psychological issues with the Internet connection requirement. Although I had the same feelings for Half-Life 2, It rarely stopped me from playing and had no bearing on gameplay. I could careless about the auction since I expect I will never use it. But what is most important to me at this point is that I will be able to get it to run under wine as I haven’t had a windows box for more than a decade and I have no plans to change that for a game.

  • McTeddy said,

    Well.. considering I am moving to an city where I can’t get internet service… Diablo 3 is definitely not on my list of purchases.

    Personally, I’m not a fan of the money auction more than anything else. People complain that a thief not being a combat class is unbalanced… yet… it is balanced to give higher paying customers better gear without earning them?

    That just rubs me the wrong way. I understand that companies want my money… but what the hell ever happened to a little subtlety? You know, pretending that in part they make the games because they want to entertain me.

    Oh well… t’is the way of the future.

  • JTippetts said,

    It’s a deal-breaker for me, I’m afraid. I like taking my laptop on road trips or work jaunts, and playing a round or two of D2. If D3 isn’t going to offer a similar-but-improved experience, then this long-time Diablo fan is looking elsewhere. They’ve jumped the shark, time to find another place to get my fix.

  • getter77 said,

    If only they’d went about it in a more “ethical” seeming way as per the Path of Exile plan—that would’ve gone down much better to everybody even with the bitterness of the anti-mod and always online aspects in tow.

    I’m rather unlikely to ever mess with D3 given the bizarre saga of the game up to this point as it stands—Grim Dawn, Torchlight II, Triangle Wizard still chugging along, and who knows what else Indie or otherwise just seem the more enticing prospects.

  • Greg Tedder said,

    Bummer. This is a possible deal breaker for me. Intermittent and latent Rural internet connections would just be a source of serious frustration. One of the reasons I have never played WOW, and avoid any kind of online game play. Shame, these games are like crack.

  • Ruber Eaglenest said,

    No mods, and the world dies a little bit more.

    Think that the modding scene was an important part of the Starcraft experience.

    Maybe for Diablo 3 that’s not a real matter, but ey!, if you deny it you deny the posibilities of that something great happens. It’s a pity.

    More when we have something like Minecraft, that is online, and allows mods, so the equation above does not make sense.

  • Mark said,

    Figure they wanted to do something about cheating.

  • Xian said,

    I read in another article, can’t find the source right now, that Blizzard was asked about what happens when you don’t have an Internet connection and their response was that there were plenty of other games that could be played instead. That seemed strange to me, telling you to play something from their competition instead.

    I don’t agree with their reasoning. They say it is to prevent cheating, but it seems like they could just encrypt the character file and verify that it has not been tampered with to prevent you from modifying an offline character and bringing it online. D2 clearly warned you when you were creating a character that it was going to be online or offline, so I don’t see why D3 couldn’t do so too.

    I just don’t like the idea of having to be always connected. I have no interest in playing anything but single player, so it does nothing for me but give me problems when my Internet connection hiccups.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It’d always be possible to tamper with an offline character, as the client is unsecure and can always be modified to re-encrypt a modified character. Not easy, but it only takes one person figuring it out.

    But I think the real reason is DRM. Nobody knows better than Blizzard how much a (mostly) unpiratable MMO can do better than even a best-selling traditional game.

  • JTippetts said,

    Yeah, whatever their excuses, it’s about the DRM. If it wasn’t about the DRM, then surely they would have done a similar system to D2, of having single-player characters and online ladder and closed-realm characters be separate. Nothing wrong with that system, and people were fine with it.

    I’ve never pirated a game, so why is Blizzard trying to punish me?

  • Hajo said,

    I’ve been playing D2 for quite some time, but finally the addiction wore off. Actually I can’t really imagine where D3 really will be that much better than D2, to renew my interest.

    But I’ll sure watch from a distance and listen to the experiences and tales of other players. The auction house idea looks odd to me and at the same time reasonable – the society seems to be on a move from reality into virtual worlds, and the borders between them blur more and more. Mobile phones, smartphones, mobile devices, ubiquitous network access (well, not really as some of the former posters tell, but moving towards) change society and society gets used to that, even wants more of that.

    So it was (maybe ?) only a matter of time until the distinction between paying for real good and paying for virtual goods fell, and we just think of goods/commodities, be them real or not, and are used to pay for them with the same money (which has been virtualised to numbers in memory chips mostly as well).

    Uh, wandered quite some off topic. But hey, if D3 is a good game, people will enjoy it anyways, and others may follow if they hear about the quality. So give it some time and let’s see how things evolve. D1, D2, WoW, Starcraft all are like infinite success so far, so there are good chances that D3 will be different, but a success story again. But I agree, it’s not a new incarnation of D2, but a different game, still built on the same core concepts and ideas.

    And JTippets, Blizzard are not trying to punish you. They just want another cash cow, and the concept which they (try/seem to) implement has good potential to give them a quite potent one again.

  • xenovore said,

    The Blizzard we knew and loved is long-gone; let’s just start calling it what it is: Activision. And the greedy bastages at Activision want to monetize everything they touch, never mind what makes gamers happy.

    Is anyone really surprised? The writing has been on the wall for a while now; anyone recall the Starcraft II release? (Not to mention the exercise in pandering to the lowest common dumb-ass denominator, otherwise known as World of Warcraft.)

    Personally, Blizzard is dead to me (along with EA and Ubisoft). Nothing they are currently doing is compelling enough for me to pay to put up with their bullshit.

  • nyxalinth said,

    I so wanted to like–and play–Diablo 3. that won’t be happening now. I think instead I’ll be picking up Torchlight.

    If I wanted to pay real cash for in game items, I’d play Second Life or one of those cutesy-poo Asian MMOs.

  • TT said,

    I didn’t realised Diablo 3 is MMORG. Personally as an old fart who is set in his ways, I probably won’t get it. I can honestly say I never played online games other than that one time eons ago on text games. I loved Diablo 2 due to its mods. Now they tell me I can’t even play mods? One word Blizzard, screw you.

  • BrainFromArous said,


    EXACTLY. Well said.

  • Tesh said,

    I didn’t buy SC2 because of the online tether. It might be marginally less annoying than rootkit DRM, but it’s still not something I will ever support with my money or my recommendation, no matter how well the game itself is designed. Single player single purchase games should never need to check in with the mother ship, much less on a constant basis.

  • LachlanL said,

    For me, this doesn’t really change much. I mean, not being able to play it if my internet is down would be annoying, but hardly something I would expect to factor into my experience much. As for buying and selling items, I think that’s actually a pretty novel idea and I’ll be interested to see how it ends up working. One thing I would request is that the players get some sort of notification that the character they are playing against/with has bought items on them. As a D2 fan, I haven’t really been that impressed with what I have seen of the game so far. Going purely from the videos it is looking like they are moving away from the hack-and-slash roots and further towards a top-down shooting/beat-em-up button masher. However, that observation is pretty shallow as it is only based on the promo trailers. If I am honest I’ll probably still end up giving it a go, if not right after release.

    As for whether or not Blizzard is still “Blizzard”; I think they still are, at least at some level. For me, Starcraft 2 actually managed to live up to what I expected of the sequel and I am looking forward to the expansion.