Friday, 18 May 2012 08:39
Games - Games
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This should be a no-brainer. Single player games should not require us players to be online all the way through. When Ubisoft revealed its draconian DRM measures for PC games that would do just that, the majority of the gaming world went up in rage. Eventually, Ubisoft saw that this was leading nowhere, and dropped the ludicrous customer punishment.
Now, about a year after that, Blizzard comes along, and releases Diablo III with a mechanic that’s the same as Ubisoft’s in all but in the name. And with aggravating results. With so many connectivity issues, many players are unable to play the game they paid good money for because of this. Essentially, Diablo III is a broken product due to a DRM measure.
But what’s much worse than that is the fact, that people should have known better. Blizzard wasn’t exactly keeping this thing under wraps. It’s been known for awhile now that Diablo III would have to be connected to the internet all the time. The reasoning for this has something to do with their real-money online auction house where in-game items can be sold off. Apparently allowing offline would open the floodgates to hacked accounts, or hacked items. So the game has to be online all the time, at all costs.
Of course, I’m the relatively comfortable position of one of the few people on this planet who isn’t invested in Diablo III. I haven’t bought the game on launch day, and I haven’t been looking forward to it for years, so I have little to no personal investment and want to refrain from pointing and laughing at all you poor blokes who got scammed into dumping their money on a deliberately broken product. But well, in a way, it’s sad but true, the joke’s on those folks who jumped in right at the start and expected to play Diablo III right away. They should’ve known better.
This mechanic of mandatory always-online single player sets a dangerous precedence. People bought the game in droves in spite of knowing this customer punishment was in place. Of course, I admit, a lot of those folks obviously bought the game not just for the campaign, but also for the multiplayer. But still. This is a very customer unfriendly product, good judgement should have made people refrain from indulging Blizzard in affirming the correctness of their customer punishing strategy. And yet they, or rather “we the gamers” didn’t. The hype was too big. The wait had been too long. People would have sold their firstborns in order to get access to this game if the EULA demanded it (and who knows, them being so many and so long, I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually did...).
This affirmation of brutal, unnecessarily rough handling of the players, of the paying customers is problematic on many levels. It shows not only Blizzard but the industry as a whole that we don’t care if the hype is big enough. Blizzard can pretty much do what they want, their games will sell like hotcakes, even if they’re bad and come with ridiculous DRM measures. There might be arguments for Blizzard’s actions. But eventually they don’t hold much. Piracy? Auction House? Good games with an avid fanbase don’t need DRM to be profitable. Just ask Stardock. Just ask CDProjekt RED. The Auction House? Is such a feature really worth pissing off your customers over?
At the end of the day, I just stand there, scratching my head in disbelief. How could so many people be so ignorant of the facts, so willingly buying into a faulty product? Worse, a faulty product which was known to be that way from the start? Maybe the magnitude of the server troubles wasn’t predictable. Maybe the extent of how severe the loss of connection would be was also.
But still, if a company goes and tells you smugly “We will require you to be online all the time through our servers when you play by yourself!” the reaction to that shouldn’t be “shut up and take my money!” but “yeah, you know, no. I’ll play something else instead until you guys have actually earned my money.”
As it is, I strongly believe we will see a lot more always-online DRM things in the future. And we won’t even be able to complain about them. They were okay with Diablo III, and see how well that sold. It’s a dangerous precedence, and I’m very unhappy that it went through that easily.
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Separation Anxiety: Diablo III Always Online DRM This should be a no-brainer. Single player games should not require us players to be online all the way through. When Ubisoft revealed its...
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