Archive for August 8, 2011
By now we’re hopefully all familiar with the Diablo III “always online” requirements. Yes? Good.
So late last week, VB of Online Tech at Blizzard Robert Bridenbecker casually sidled up to the mic to proclaim that Blizzard was shocked – SHOCKED! – at the feedback that The Internet was upset at having to maintain a constant connection to itself in order to play the game. Sure, Bridenbecker says that solo play is still an option, but the way he goes about saying it, and the way he chooses to address the community concern in general, makes me wonder if Blizzard was really taken aback…or if they’re trying to backhand the community.
To quote Bridenbecker:
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…it really is just the nature of how things are going, the nature of the industry.
The thought was that this online-only move was to combat piracy, but Bridenbecker claims that DRM never entered into the equation:
Internally I don’t think [DRM] ever actually came up when we talked about how we want connections to operate.
The real twist of the knife is this quote:
There seem to be folks that believe that because you have to be connected…you have to socialize with people.
OK, so aside from boiling down the original article, here’s the take home: to me, it doesn’t sound like Bridenbecker actually understands the issues people were raising over this “always connected” scenario. He is basically telling us that it’s not for security reasons. Blizzard is only following “the industry” by “offering” this always-on feature, and that everyone who thinks this means they’re being forced to play with others should know that they can still play solo if they want.
Is it me, or did he totally not get the memo on what the naysayers had issues with?
From what I gather, the biggest issue that people have raised is centered around the fact that if someone loses power at home, but has a laptop, they can’t play the game even though their laptop is charged up and ready to rock.
But wait! World of Warcraft is online only! And so is Guild Wars, which can totally be played as a single player game! Yes, but we knew this going in to both of these. We also know that going in to Diablo III, but the key to remember here is that Diablo and Diablo II were off-line, occasionally on-line titles.
What’s happening here is that legions of Diablo fans, who have been waiting for more of the same experience that made them rabid fans, are being leashed in the name of “following the industry”. It’s not about anyone feeling that they’re being pressured to play with others (although you’d have to be blind to not to actually see that kind of pressure), and it’s certainly not about cheaters. It’s about changing the rules, pulling the rug out from under expectations, and adding more restrictions which a lot of gamers probably see as two steps backwards instead of the giant leap forward that they hoped to receive with Diablo III.
So I don’t know if Bridenbecker is really surprised, whether he totally misread the outcry, or if he’s trying to make the community look stupid by spinning the arguments back against the itself. If it’s #1, then Blizzard needs to spend more time amongst it’s community, because I really doubt any gamer at street level didn’t see this backlash coming the second it was made public. If it’s #2, then maybe Bridenbecker should find another line of work that isn’t involved in interfacing with a community. If it’s #3 – which certainly appeals to the conspiracy theorist and hater of Big Business Practices in me – then Blizzard and Bridenbecker are a bunch of shysters who are trying to weasel out of being responsible for making an unpopular decision.