German Consumer Group Not Happy With Diablo 3 Internet Requirements

from the it-needs-what? dept

Ever since Blizzard created the massive hit that is World of Warcraft, it has decided that requiring gamers to be constantly connected to the internet while playing is a good thing. Unfortunately, things have not gone as smoothly as it had hoped. If you are familiar with recent events surrounding the release of Blizzard's latest game Diablo 3, you may recall the Error 37 issue in which users who tried to connect to Blizzard's servers on launch day were unable to due to the lack of infrastructure. Since then, it has had fewer issues, but still some users have difficulty staying connected to the servers while playing and thus risk losing progress that has not been saved. This has some people and groups upset.

Via Cinema Blend, we learn that one German consumer group has given Blizzard an ultimatum to change the Diablo 3 packaging to reflect the need for such a connection. The original report from the German site PC Games states:

Potential purchasers must know before purchase what are the requirements for the software to be used. Whether a permanent Internet connection, obligatory registration to an Internet platform including the related access to a game, or downloading additional software: all these things are essential information that the user much receive before purchase.

The primary complaint is that the requirement to create and log in to Blizzard's service in order to play is not clearly disclosed prior to purchase. Because of this requirement to be tethered to a constant internet connection, some people are having a number of issues, even when trying to play single player modes of the game. This consumer group has given Blizzard until July 27th to respond to the complaint. If Blizzard fails to respond or respond adequately, the group is prepared to pursue legal options against the company.

Unfortunately for gamers, many game companies are moving toward the use of this kind of “always-on” DRM. To those companies, it is a necessary part of the war on piracy. However, these DRM schemes are more often a nuisance for paying customers who have to deal with unexpected and even planned server outages. What makes these types of DRM more infuriating to consumers is the fact that it not only applies to the multiplayer portions, where you can understand a potential need for an internet connection, but also to single player portions that are typically done locally. There is never a reason to require that a gamer be connected to a server at all times when playing by themselves.

Hopefully as more consumer groups and consumers in general voice their dissatisfaction with such DRM schemes, more game developers will listen. We have seen many developers already making the stand that DRM is not useful or wanted. Those developers have found that treating fans with respect is a far more effective means of maximizing profits than any DRM scheme could ever be.

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Companies: blizzard

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Comments on “German Consumer Group Not Happy With Diablo 3 Internet Requirements”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Except I know ppl that never used the multiplayer part. I find it specially annoying that I have died to bosses and special mobs quite a few times already because there are random lag spikes every once in a while.

The good part is that it’s driving me away from gaming and I end up with more time to enjoy other stuff. I’ll always play a few games but most of them will be older, non-drm titles (or those that can be easily cracked).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No it’s not rofl… There was a basic vers released 6 hours after it went beta. There are already some that’s getting close to perfect.. The releasing of the game as online only was a stupid call.

They strayed away from what made Diablo 2 so great.

The old school setups in D2 pre 1.10 were so awesome. Legit dueling setups were some of the most complex builds to make and insanely hard to find everything needed.

I remember some of the items had absurd values on JSP and also huge cash value.

The hacked world of D2 was also very fun mostly on West or Asia. The Hexing charms and white rings were about high as the avg player saw but in the darkest parts in some very elite clans it was just crazy. The dueling was so epic back then 4v4 hacked to the max.

Open hacked dueling was a different story. I don’t know how many of you know of but there you could find people with some of the most epic builds and a few of us had the much sought after tera levels figured out. “The levels over the max that would not crash” If I recall correctly it was 2.3 million or something you would just have to get one of the old editors to find out.

Still both worlds legit and hacked on D2 were both very fun.

I use to run a private 1.09 server but no time for games anymore ๐Ÿ™

I might make some for torchlight 2 the TL1 multiplayer addon is pretty cool but too many bugs with it :/

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Diablo 2 had an option where you could play off line, this was a local only character that couldn’t be taken online in case of cheating. Ignoring the fact that battlenet was a cheatfilled mess anyway that simple little fact makes D2 a far more fully featured game than D3 and there is no reasonable reason why they couldn’t have included local only play.

Their PR line on the matter? “We don’t want you to feel left out if you play solo and then want to go online with your friends using that characters”

The real reasons? Well both before the game came out and just recently blizzard have stated that part of the reason for going with always online was how it would act as effective DRM. So part of their motivation was to limit their paying consumers use of the product so they can stop none paying users playing the game.

The other reason and what is the real dirty little secret here is the real money auction house. If blizzard allowed offline play it would limit and reduce the market of both the auction houses, real money and otherwise. This is done in two ways, firstly offline characters could not put items up for sale on the AH as blizzard would be unable to confirm that they where not acquired by cheating. Secondly any one playing offline is not going to spend real money on a item (a cheat in essence) when people will be hacking the offline files for mods and other stuff.

In other words Blizzard removed a feature of their game limiting when and how the people who buy it use it for two major reasons. DRM and pushing their real money auction house.

It ends with millions of paying consumers not being able to play their game due to “features” that aimed purely at benefiting Blizzard at the expense of their customers.

And this is the reason why I said I wouldn’t buy D3 before it came out and I never will.

Anonymous Coward says:

what about those people that have caps on their broadband? they could be in the position of running out of connection time and having to pay a lot more to their ISP. if it were me, i would be buying a game that was more suited to how i wanted to play it, not how they allowed me to play it. apart from plastic discs, what else does a person buy that has restrictions like this? what else is there that a person only buys ‘a license’ and not the item itself? what else is not allowed to be sold on unless the 2nd purchaser then buys another code or something to allow the game to be replayed? nothing other than control and greed, yet again! one day people will wake up and tell these arse holes where to stick their discs!

Anonymous Coward says:

I paid for Diablo 3 and waited patiently for the server issues to be resolved.

I stopped playing shortly after clearing the normal difficulty because the game got to hard. Not due to my skill or my character but because of the 1-2 second lag between the input and response due to my rubbish isp (the only one which services me area) and the always on connection.

Lesson learned. Never again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Diablo 3 Online

I think the issue can be solved easily by renaming the game “Diablo 3 Online”.

You don’t expect to play online game without internet connection, right?

Btw, it’s the nature of the game changed to category of “online game”, not exactly a DRM issue. (Even when playing in single player mode, you still use character stats (level, items, money, etc.) from the game server. So it’s practically an online game)

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Diablo 3 Online

Maybe, but there’s no particular reason why any details from the game server in single player should be live. If a server sync is required, the game should still be capable of caching data locally then syncing when online. Maybe the game’s designed in such a way that this is necessary to be a live sync, but if so they’ve failed miserably at communicating that this is the case rather than it just being a DRM issue.

Personally, for me it’s just another sale a company’s thrown away due to DRM (or, possibly, short-sighted design). I missed out on Diablo back in the day and way looking forward to checking out the new incarnation. But, I’d spent some time recently without a home internet connection, and would plan to play any such game on the road where I may not have a constant connection. There’s literally no point in me paying money for this product. I could go the pirate route, of course, and play the game anyway, but I’d rather spend time with other games I’ve bought in recent times.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Diablo 3 Online

“Again, if the game allowed the data cache cheaters would find a way to abuse it.”

So? Syncing with the server should root out any cheaters to stop them from getting on leaderboards, etc., if that’s a problem but who cares if I cheat in a single player game? Blocking people from playing the game offline so they can’t cheat against themselves is a little silly.

Jamie (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Diablo 3 Online

Blizzard care about cheating because they’ve set up an auction house where people can sell in-game items for real money. If cheaters could create any item they want, the auction house would be useless, and Blizzard would miss out on their cut of each sale.

There’s a solution to that though: have a completely offline mode. You would have to create an offline-only character, and that character could not participate in any of the online features (including the real money auction house).

t is completely possible for Blizzard to release such a mode. However, they never will because that makes it possible to pirate the game. Besides, if people are playing offline, they won’t be tempted to sell any of that loot…

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Diablo 3 Online

D2 did this so why remove it?

It’s simple, and just one step more in your logic to do with the auction houses. If you let people play offline and not sell to the AH then you are reducing the number of players who might use that AH. Then even if you let offline players just buy from the AH you’ve got to ask “why would an offline player bother to pay for a cheat item when they could just hack one in?”.

Next, and this is where it gets really fun, the game is balanced around making using the AH a important feature. In the harder difficulty levels I’m told that there are points where you are almost required (some classes more than others) to use the AH to effectively progress.

Given that’s the case some one would likely retune offline drop rates to mitigate these issues. By doing so they would make the offline play an objectively better version of the game.

In other words the auction houses screwed D3 both from an consumer rights stand point and from an game play stand point.

But it might make blizzard money so that’s all ok right?

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Diablo 3 Online

If only Blizzard could think up a way to keep people who might be able to cheat from playing online… like that company did with that game, what was it called? Diablo 2 I think, where they had an “offline mode” and an “online mode” and you couldn’t take characters set to offline mode online! That’s genius!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Diablo 3 Online

There is reason: Bizzards decided they don’t want to create standalone game anymore.

You can decide to play online game alone, not interact with anyone. But that doesn’t make it wrong for the online game require you to stay online.

Btw, I’ve heard people saying Diablo 3 is using a modified WOW engine. Will you say it’s unfair for “can’t play WOW in single player mode without internet connection”?

The only thing that matter is that both Diablo and Diablo 2 have standalone game mode and Diablo 3 dropped it. They even made official announcement to chop out standalone game mode about half years before release of game. I’d think they only have themselve to blame (or lack of German translation of these announcements floating on the net, I’m not sure)

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Diablo 3 Online

“Will you say it’s unfair for “can’t play WOW in single player mode without internet connection”?”

Why would you play WOW in single player mode?

That’s the point. WoW doesn’t have a single player mode, so the online requirement is natural. Diablo 3 has a single player mode, which makes the online requirement superfluous or even damaging.

I agree with the above – if they don’t want to make offline games any more, then make it “Diablo 3 Online”. But having an online requirement for a single player game is idiocy, and many people wouldn’t know that requirement was there before buying the game – hence the request for clarity.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Diablo 3 Online

WOW is awesome in single player mode – i.e. setting up your own private server. No more people killing your quest bosses so you have to sit around waiting for them to respawn. No more gold beggars shouting on the channels. No more people harassing you to duel them or join them when you’re on a quest. No more players with non-themed character names like LazerDude in a medieval fantasy world. And with playerbots and auctionbots, you get the primary benefits of the multiplayer aspects of the game without the annoying real people to screw it up.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Diablo 3 Online

Having a boxed copy of the last three WoW expansions in my hands, and a boxed copy of d3 in my hands, I can say that all 4 boxes ***say the exact same thing*** top, front and bottom of box say “Internet connection required”. In the exact same places. On all four boxes. Also on the front and back spine. No where on the wow packages does it say “at all times” oh it szays it on the back, too. Of all 4.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Diablo 3 Online

In addition to this, a smaller paint of exactly the same four lines are printed on the bottom of both sides of the box and the Front.

Plus at the bottom, in “Minimum System Requirement” it says “Broadband Internet Connection”. And on the top of the package, it says “Internet Connection Required”. So the requirement is actually printed on all six sides of the box.

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Diablo 3 Online

Maybe that’s a UK labelling thing?

I would venture to say that there is a big difference between saying “Internet connection required”, which kind of implies that you may need to log on periodically (for instance for updates, synching, verification), and “Always on internet connection required”, which suggests that the game will always need to be online.

Regardless, all of this has made me reluctant to pony up ?44 (c.$66) for a game that doesn’t even have the gameplay on it. And I bought Diablo I and II several times, including at the start.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Diablo 3 Online

Even when playing in single player mode, you still use character stats (level, items, money, etc.) from the game server.

Same concept of Diablo II and we didn’t need a server back then for single player games. No really, it’s the new tendency of gaming, to annoy your customers as much as you can. As for me, I’m ok, I’ll just stop. I’ve recently reached the Inferno difficulty in D3. Not playable with lag. So I switched to another character. Once I’m done with the classes that interest me I’ll just leave. And I’m not buying any expansion, of course.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Diablo 3 Online

Closed required a server for those things and since closed is the only gameplay mode that survived from D2 to D3 it’s required there as well. You can’t just close your eyes to the fact that other players can join any game you create and that you had to click past the menu where ‘auction house’ was not a disabled option and pretend that because you did those things it’s magically a single player game. It’s not.

That said, gutting single player as a gameplay mode is something many companies have talked about doing as a pseudo DRM and Blizzard certainly seems to have implemented it here.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Diablo 3 Online

You can’t just close your eyes to the fact that other players can join any game you create

Thankfully they made this an opt-in feature. It was incredibly annoying.

and that you had to click past the menu where ‘auction house’ was not a disabled option and pretend that because you did those things it’s magically a single player game.

It is a fucking single game. Disable the damn buttons for offline single player mode. Simple as that. You can play “three wise monkeys” as much as you want but there is no need to make an internet connection mandatory. I never used the auction house, never will. I never used on D2. You fail, there’s absolutely nothing that justifies ‘always on’ requirement for single player games.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Diablo 3 Online

Can you name me any new online features in Diablo 3 that do not exist in one form or another in Diablo 2? This can not include any general improvement in mechanics that could apply to single player or local co-op play. As far as I can tell there’s only really one and that is the auction houses.

Now name me a major feature that existed in Diablo 2 but does not exist in Diablo 3? Local only characters for offline play as an example.

So D3 adds relatively little to it’s online play over D2s online play but removes the option to have an local only character for offline single player or local co-op play.

This is not an issue of systematics it’s an issue of features. D3 does not do much online that people would not have expected from a Diablo game while at the same time removing options for offline play the existed in it’s last one.

As an example lets look at Knights of the Old Republic, kotor had 2 single player only games before the franchise was moved online as the MMO The Old Republic. While some people, including my self, grumbled that we here not going to get kotor3 no one thought that TOR should come with offline play. It’s very clear to any one with a lick of sense that TOR is a fundamental different game from the Kotor games and that it’s built from the ground up as an online only game. It’s an mmo, the other games are not.

The same thing can not be said of Diablo 3 and the other Diablo games. The game D3 is is not fundamentally different to D2 or even D1 and there is very little if anything in it’s design that requires the game be playable online.

I guess the post telling point about why the idea of calling it “Diablo 3: Online” is the fact that Blizzard didn’t chose to do so. They didn’t do this because they clearly knew that they had not changed (did not even set out to change) the game enough to justify that kind of title. If they’d called the game that all the issues would remain and a whole boat load of new ones would be added. Fans would question how it was “D3:O” when it did little more than D2’s online play had already done.

On top of all that is the simple fact that this move to require online play was taken after the majority of development was done. They didn’t really do anything to the game other than not include the game logic in the local install and remove the “play offline” button from the menu.

In other words nothing about the online play in D3 would likely be any different what so ever if they had allowed local only offline play.

Given all that I fail to see how you can justify the very simplistic idea that this issue could be overcome with a change in wording.

Beech (profile) says:

I don’t really think of the “always on” as DRM in this instance. It’s one thing when Ubisoft makes you stay online for single player for no damn reason. I firmly believe that when Blizzard does it it’s as much an anti-cheating measure as anything. Diablo 2 had HUGE problems with people cheating. Fake or “duped” items were everywhere. Blizzard tried all kinds of things to stymie the flow of ill-gotten goods, mostly to no avail. The answer? Store the character files on Blizzard’s own servers so cheaters couldn’t mess with them. Then keep you online to watch you to make sure that all the goodies you get are legitimate drops, as opposed to you finding someway to hack when they aren’t looking.

So if this “always on thing” is DRM, it adds a lot of value. Especially since Bliz added the in game auction houses. If I find an amazing item, I can sell it to another player for in game gold, or real world dollars. If there was a way to make the best item in the game on command, the economy would collapse.

Of course, having said all of that I was more pissed than anyone when I couldn’t play the game on launch day. There’s a big difference between understanding the need for something and liking it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The issue is that Mike (and some others) don’t want the added value, they want some form of absolute freedom to use the product as they see fit, including allowing their friends (near and far) to pirate their copy with impunity.

This sort of DRM (if it is really one at all) is sort of a “sow and reap” thing. The pirates have sowed a lot of bad things, and thus they reap them back. Lay the blame where it belongs, the people making this sort of DRM scheme to be used to start with.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

>The pirates have sowed a lot of bad things, and thus they reap them back. Lay the blame where it belongs, the people making this sort of DRM scheme to be used to start with.

The funny thing is that you think this actually affects the pirates. If it doesn’t affect pirates but affects the people who use the legitimate content most, who do you think is going to be pissed off? The pirates may be “sowing” but they’re certainly not the ones “reaping”.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Funny then that the pirates, you know, the people you’re blaming for this sort of thing, aren’t affected at all. The only people being shafted by insane DRM are the legitimate customers, otherwise knows as ‘the source of a company’s profits’.

Truly a brilliant way to reward legitimate consumers, and ensure they buy from you in the future.

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have no problem connecting to a server when I am playing a Flash game or multiplayer. However, when I am playing a single player game, there is no reason to be connected to the internet.

If Blizzard is concerned about cheating in multiplayer or the Auction House, then segregate the offline single player characters from the online multiplayer characters.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

It’s NOT a single player game. Just because you can play solo does not make it a single player game.

The reason they can’t / won’t make it offline is because all the algorithms for item creation are server side only. They need to stay this way for the D3 economy to be stable.

Everyone mentions that D2 had online and offline play. D2 closed was rife with exploited and duped gear. This was at least partly due to all the additional information that was included with the single player portion game.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Make an offline environment and an online environment that don’t mix. I never played DII online but used char editors to fool around with my characters. I even made small networks with my friends so we could all build our chars on steroids and have an infernal fun with them. I also developed many chars either alone or with those friends from scratch and with no cheating. Never touched any server though, the closest I got to this were a few sessions with direct connections where I’d be the server. I can’t even connect locally with D3, they took a lot of value away. I still play because it is actually fun to stride through the places smashing undead and the likes. But as I said above, it’s not feasible in Inferno with the lag so I simply stopped playing with my lvl 60 char.

There is NO NEED for it to be always on besides some stupid anti-piracy effort.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You know….you don’t HAVE to participate in the “item duping” scene just because it’s there.

This is the real core of it. Under US law, a man who injures himself with a chainsaw cannot sue the maker of the chainsaw (the tool) for his stupid mistake.
I reference this because the mentality of applying always-on connection to stop duping in D3 because it was in D2, is that Blizzard is blaming the game itself (the tool) for people duping, and not the people who dupe. Just because you CAN dupe, doesn’t mean you HAVE to dupe. But this is not the stance Blizzard has taken.

Even though people have to conscientiously and purposely act within the realm of item duping, meaning there are people who don’t want to participate in it (and thus, don’t, since you’re not forced into it), Blizzard has decided to condemn everyone. This is the real issue here.

shlogan says:

Re: Re:

Warden has been a fair solution to the hacking and cheating that you saw in diablo 2, since its release the hacking communities around blizzard games has dropped as a whole. While there is still some hacking going on in the private scene (which a required internet connection won’t stop) for the most part public hacking has dropped significantly since the days of .09 diablo 2. And honestly if blizzard did more work on their end to be more aggressive against hacking(IE, allowing hackers months of free time to hack and doing mass bans instead of instant bans) there would be even less hacking and cheating going on in all their games.
This required internet connection is purely DRM and while the nature of d3 makes it a bit more understandable it will eventually be shown to be ineffective and only hurt legit players.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You are talking about different games. WoW is built around the concept of online interactions. You CAN’T run a dungeon without assistance (unless you are uber high lvl).

However you can go from the beginning to the end without ever getting help in D3. And I’ve mentioned above: DII is actually the same game and didn’t rely on any server. The logic is just random chances of dropping an item. It’s a table that provides the chances and mechanics. There’s no excuse for it to be online only.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Diablo 3 is built around the concept of online interactions. The table of random changes of dropping an item on high end items and difficulty tuning in inferno are tailored around using the auction house, a multiplayer element. You really cannot go from beginning to end without ever getting ‘help’ in D3 unless you get really lucky, like getting nothing but critical hits for an entire fight in WoW. Sure, given enough time it’s possible in much the same way that winning the lottery while getting struck by lightning is possible.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You really cannot go from beginning to end without ever getting ‘help’ in D3 unless you get really lucky

Yes you can. Takes patience and a lag-free connection, ironically. D2 comes to mind.

The table of random changes of dropping an item on high end items and difficulty tuning in inferno are tailored around using the auction house, a multiplayer element.

If that’s true and I hope it isn’t, then the availability of items in the auction house will decrease or increase a multiplier that will affect the drop chance of an item. Set this multiplier to 1 on single player offline games. There is no excuse.

You must be a Blizzard fanboy. I love playing WoW, D3 is actually a pretty fun game if you manage to remain lag-free. But even though I like the games themselves I’m not blind to the issues that are impacting the value of those.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The table of random changes of dropping an item on high end items and difficulty tuning in inferno are tailored around using the auction house, a multiplayer element.

HMM……….wrong. Mike Morhaime (sp?) the director of Diablo 3 has said the PROBLEM with D3 is that Inferno difficulty is making the Auction House mandatory, as you’re saying, but he said IT’S NOT MEANT TO BE. It’s Optional. And they’re going to actually change it with a patch to fix this inaccuracy.

I truly am sorry your whole argument is based on an inaccuracy, but this is the truth.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Ya so you know how blizzard said always online had nothing to do with being DRM until they admitted it did? We are meant then just accept that they are “fixing” the loot drops that benefit the AH after the player base started to complain about it?

Given that loot drop tables are a vital part of the game they would have had to messed up rather badly to miss this issue in testing and even more so to not bother monitoring player progression and charting that against AH use.

The sad thing is that this might simply be the truth, that they didn’t intend any of it but they have so completely lost the good faith they had with me that I simply do not trust a statement like that from them.

Rikuo (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

So basically you’re admitting that the game is designed to milk me for as much money as possible, through the auction house? If I buy a game, I ought to, for the money I hand over, be given a fair chance of actually completing the game, without having to fork over money again and again.
That’s basically what you said here “You really cannot go from beginning to end without ever getting ‘help’ in D3” i.e. “you cannot complete the game you bought unless you pay Blizzard again and again”

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If they allowed offline play modders would quickly retune the loot drops to drop in a way that is best for game progression rather than in a way that’s best for the AH.

What that means is that the offline game could, with a little modding, be the better version of the game.

In other words the AH has degraded the game play experiences for any one who does not just LOVE having to grind gold or pay real money for items in AH to progress in their game.

And this is meant to be a argument in favour of the game being online? how?

anon says:


If anything there should never be a need to have an internet connection to paly a game, ever. As is stated above it is only the paying customer that is suffering, and to get there games working is a simple download away. All that this type of drm does is encourage people to check out the sharing community and once they do it is going to be very hard to get them back to paying a lot of money for 1 game.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Btw, it’s the nature of the game changed to category of “online game”, not exactly a DRM issue. (Even when playing in single player mode, you still use character stats (level, items, money, etc.) from the game server. So it’s practically an online game)”

If Diablo 3 (which I don’t have) works like Starcraft 2 (which I do have) not really. Starcraft 2, with the same always online DRM DOES store your single player games on your computer, look around your starcraft folder. I’m 99% sure it’s the same thing for Diablo 3, which makes needing an Internet connection even stupider.

Also, the DRM is part of why I haven’t gotten Diablo 3 yet, despite having an awesome Internet connection. Blizzard jumped the shark after they made World of Warcraft, and got too greedy in my opinion. I dread the day when they start charging monthly fees for Starcraft/Warcraft/Diablo (they already do in some foreign countries for Starcraft 2 I believe) and I’ll have to stop buying from Blizzard. Monthly fees to me, on top of a $60 game, just scream double and triple dipping from my wallet. Just charge me a few hundred bucks for the base game when I first buy it, I’ll pay it. Monthly fees don’t work for me since I get bored of games for months or years at a time before coming back to it later, and I can’t come back to it right away if it doesn’t work because of me canceling a monthly subscription.

Ralph-J (profile) says:

Their main concern is revenue from auctions

Yes, they could disconnect the single-player mode completely, so you can’t sell cheat-supported items and have an advantage over honest players.

However, since they plan on allowing auction sales using real money, they’d be cutting off a significant part of potential future revenue as well.

dolphin (profile) says:

Re: Their main concern is revenue from auctions

I agree completely. While the case can be made that they have already gone there with how World of Warcraft has changed over the years, I think Diablo III is clear cut evidence that they have gone from focusing on making a great game (that lots of people will buy) to focusing on maximizing revenue at the expense of the quality of the game.

Diablo 3 is a hardcore facebook game designed solely to rake in money from a large user base, a dollar at a time.

Pretty much all the major design decisions feel like they were made not just considering the Real Money Auction House, but driven by the RMAH. They can carefully control drop rates and difficulty levels to control supply AND demand. They have made a game with a tiered difficulty which changes drastically. That in and of itself isn’t so bad. But they have also made it so that you can negate much of that difficulty with sufficiently powerful gear which you can buy from the auction house. Farming gear directly to be able to progress is really kind of a dead end. If you need the gear to turn down the difficulty level, any gear you might get yourself (even if you are really lucky) probably isn’t quite enough to get you to the next level. Your only options at that point are to grind endlessly for gold and items that you can hope to sell on one of the auction houses.

Berenerd (profile) says:

What I don't under stand...

I just looked at the game boxes my room mates got for D3, both state in the requirements for the game is an internet connect. How is this not stating you need to have an internet connection to play the game? The issue here isn’t so much that you are required to play online, they are complaining there is nothing stating that you need to be online. All the release notes for it stated you needed an internet connection (actually broadband connection as Dialup would be too slow).

Spaceman Spiff (profile) says:

Why DRM doesn't work

In the 1990’s the company I worked for (as Principal Engineer) developed software to manage all of the processes and equipment in major manufacturing plants, a manufacturing execution system (MES). This was a multi-million $ package that encompassed everything from process planning, machine control, statistical process control, user interfaces, reporting, engineering data collection, resource scheduling and optimization, etc. We seriously considered, designed, and implemented several different approaches to license control (DRM). In the end, we decided to drop the entire DRM thing. Why? Because down time for our customers costs them $10M per hour or more, and having software that controls and entire semiconductor fab or other major manufacturing enterprise stop working because of DRM was a risk that we just were not willing to take.

So, in the end, it comes down to cost vs. benefits, and the benefits part is not just the vendor/developer ones, but the customer ones as well. As has been pointed out here in TD many times, pissing off your customers generally is not a smart business move…

Joe says:

Not some DRM issue!

Blizzard did not make playing D3 online-only for DRM reasons. Saying so is severely misleading. It is an online-only game solely for the fact of the severely rampant cheating which was in D2. So many players table-edited their characters offline, and then would use those hacked characters online and kill other players as near gods.

Error 32 was caused by several millions of players buying the game too quickly which Blizzard did their best to accommodate, but still just didn’t have enough servers in the end (they over-compensated, just not enough). It took time to set up new servers for the insane load demand.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Not some DRM issue!

“So many players table-edited their characters offline, and then would use those hacked characters online and kill other players as near gods.”

So, as already suggested, the solution was to make players either online-only or offline-only, not kill the game completely for people with unreliable internet connections who only wanted to play offline. Requiring a connection for single player games *is* a form of DRM, whether Blizzard intended that way or not.

It’s a weak ass excuse, at best.

“Error 32 was caused by several millions of players buying the game too quickly”

Which would have been less of an issue if people not wishing to go online had not been forced to do so!

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Not some DRM issue!

Other than their boss recently said exactly that.

There is also an interview from before the game came out (I don’t have time to go dig it up) where a blizzard representative said always online acting as DRM was a part of the reason why they decided to do it.

The issues of cheating in D2 where due to battle net being broken and other issues not because people could play with local offline only characters.

D3 online play does relatively little that D2 online play did not do and yet D3 is online only and D2 is not. So a major feature has been removed, local offline play, for an online play that is not fundamentally different from the last game that offered both.

This was done, we were told at the time, to improve player experience but now we are told that it has to do with DRM… which every one knew anyway. It also has to do with blizzard wanting to ensure that there is a market for the auction houses in the game.

If they offered local offline play those people couldn’t sell to the AH because blizzard couldn’t be sure items where not created by cheating. Not only that but those playesr are far more unlikely to buy a powerful item from the AH if they can hack flies to do so locally.

More insidiousness that even that is the fact that drop rates in the game are balanced around the idea of having an AH. I’m told at higher difficulty there are places where you almost have to use the AH to progress (more or less so depending on class) and if that is the case then offering offline play comes with a bigger problem.

People would likely hack the files and retune the drop rates making the single player offline likely a better game than the online one.

“Error 32 was caused by several millions of players buying the game too quickly which Blizzard did their best to accommodate, but still just didn’t have enough servers in the end (they over-compensated, just not enough). It took time to set up new servers for the insane load demand.”

That doesn’t change the fact that players could not play the game they paid for due to a decision on blizzards part that was in part to do with DRM. That’s not acceptable.

Anonymous Coward says:

I just found a torrent of cracked Diablo 3. Took me less than 5 minutes to find it with Google.

I downloaded it to make sure it worked, and indeed it did! No Internet required to play solo!

(I deleted the game and installation files immediately after… First because I don’t pirate, second because I’m not even interested in playing Diablo 3).

So yeah, DRM is useless. Anyone can pirate Diablo 3 now, yet paying customers still have to put up with DRM.

Anonymous Coward says:

1) Its not possible to lose unsaved progress due to a lost internet connection. Its certainly possible to need to replay some because you didn’t get to a checkpoint, but everything you picked up will be there.

2) There are a number of good technical reasons to have the code server side instead of client side. Its called a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Blizzard can update the game without needing to push the change to all users. The trade off is latency.

3) In order to make the real money auction house work they needed to crack down on the cheating.

4) Yes they could have siloed people who wanted to play offline and not allowed them to trade items, but that isn’t a simple task. First it would break the SOA model and force them to start pushing updates more often, second they would have to actually make the code work both client side and server side. This is a ton of work for (from Blizzards perspective) very little gain.

Its not Blizzards responsibility to make it possible for everyone who wants to play to do so. The online only model has considerable advantages in terms of features they can add to the game, and the cost of making it work as well as possible offline is prohibitive. Since most people have a reasonable internet connection they didn’t see it as profitable to do so.

Just because it acts like DRM and makes piracy impossible does not mean that Blizzard is assuming you all are pirates out to steal their money and is making its game worse in order to combat it. Here’s the statement from Blizzard.

“One other common topic we?ve seen in the forums is the always-connected experience, and the perception that the online requirement is nothing but an ineffective form of copy protection that has already been cracked. While we?ve never said that this requirement guarantees that there will be no cheating or game cracks, it does help us battle those problems (we have not found any fully functional cracks). More important to us is that the online requirement is critical for the long-term integrity of the game experience. I fully understand the desire to play Diablo III offline; however, Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design. The effectiveness of the online elements — including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components — is tied directly to the online nature of the game. These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. That said, there are still improvements we believe we can make to expand the online experience and make co-op play even more rewarding, and this will remain one of our priorities moving forward. Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game.”

Benjo (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Let me start of by saying I’ve owned every Blizzard game since the original Warcraft. That said, D3s DRM is a pain in the ass. If you follow it, the DRM really hasn’t done anything to stop cheating either. The RM Auction House seems like a huge failure, mainly because of the practices / types of people and bots its attracting to play the game.

I got sick of D3 very quickly, mainly because it was D2. There have been duping hacks, account takeovers, invincible heroes, and a ton of irritating server issues. Plus you can’t play true single player which was a huge issue at my last house where the internet sucked.

D3 is probably the last Blizzard game I ever buy. The real money Auction house was a shitty idea that came about because Blizzard didn’t want to make a game that was good enough to demand a subscription fee, but still wanted some extra sustained income (pseudo-subscriber model). Before I stopped playing I cleared through Act 2 on Inferno. It was still pretty fun but I couldn’t afford anything and I had a number of disconnection issues (when primarily played alone)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

While this is indeed the Activision-blizzard stance, this is not the blizzard we grew to love.

Yes, to make the RMAH work they had to have the online requirement. I don’t disagree with that, it makes a lot of sense. But to have excuses that they simply couldn’t have an offline mode because it was prohibitively expensive is utter BS. They are words coming from a PR guy that no longer values the company reputation.

Farewell Blizzard, we loved what you once were.

techinabox (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Looking back at trailers and dev interviews about D3 every single one of them hypes that this is an online game you play with friends. They talk about how nifty the auction house will be, the crack down cheaters, and how it will be to play in groups. I don’t recall a single mention of a “single player mode” or “offline mode.” They pushed this game as an online game. The problem is all the rose colored glasses that people have been using to look back at D2. This game isn’t D2. It is as different as D2 was compared to D1. Blizzard tried to do something new here. Maybe you don’t like it but decrying attempts to innovate on this website is ridiculous. Go sit in the corner with all the folks who don’t like Kickstarter in the music industry.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So why not call it D3:Online as some one suggested above? And as I pointed out above they didn’t do that because they know they did not add enough to the online play OVER what D2 already offered to justify that. So we got removal of feature of the last game, local offline play, for… well… locking down and expanding the market AH (including balancing the loot drops to make the AH important which would have been retuned by moders in an offline mode) and the fact it acts as DRM.

All stuff that only benefits blizzard and comes at a cost to you as a consumer. Even if you don’t mind and love the game you shouldn’t as a consumer be actively defending it.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“1) Its not possible to lose unsaved progress due to a lost internet connection. Its certainly possible to need to replay some because you didn’t get to a checkpoint, but everything you picked up will be there.”

This says all you need to know about the twisted stance you’re taking here. It’s not possible to lose saved progress. Unless you didn’t get to a checkpoint, in which case your progress is lost, but it doesn’t matter because some of your progress remains.

You don’t see the immediate contradiction, and why the average player simply wouldn’t give a shit about anything other than the online requirement just screwed up their solo playtime?

“Its not Blizzards responsibility to make it possible for everyone who wants to play to do so.”

Great, as long as you and they admit this and don’t start whining about lost sales if they don’t make as much money as they wanted to. By your admission, they rejected sales by choosing this architecture.

“Just because it acts like DRM and makes piracy impossible”

Except it doesn’t, of course.

“does not mean that Blizzard is assuming you all are pirates out to steal their money and is making its game worse in order to combat it”

Apparently they just made it worse as a natural design point instead. Wow, you really convinced me I should buy the game now. /sarc

Whether they intended it as DRM or not, they lost my sale.

Tim Griffiths (profile) says:

Re: Re:

What’s amazing about this is that your whole post is just examples of how always online benefits Blizzard and you trying to downplay the negative impact of that on the consumer.

And you seem to think this is some how meant to win the argument in blizzards favour? You post summed up is effectively

“This thing they did that is good for them and bad for you is good for them so stop complaining that it’s bad for you”

None of us work of Blizzard so none of us should care what is “good for lbizzard” we should care about the state the game from our view as consumers. When a company is doing that’s that vastly benefit them at a cost to you as a consumer the thing to do is complain about it and stop giving them your money.

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