Blizzard Bombshells Diablo 3: Online Only, No Mods and Real Cash Auctions

Monday 01st, August 2011 / 14:48 Written by
in Gaming
Blizzard Bombshells Diablo 3: Online Only, No Mods and Real Cash Auctions

Well that’s just typical Blizzard, keep quiet about an upcoming title for a while, then unleash a flood of news about it in one go! This morning has brought not one, but three big bits of Diablo 3 news that are very closely linked. They are:

  1. Diablo 3 will only be playable online. You will need a constant internet connection to play it, much like an MMO. There will be no offline mode.
  2. Creating mods for Diablo 3 has been completed banned by Blizzard.
  3. Diablo 3’s featured Auction House will allow players to buy and sell in-game items for real life currency as well as in-game currency.

Naturally, these bombshells have already caused a storm of controversy as Diablo fans debate the officially stated reasons behind each announcement along with their own interpretations.

These are pretty big points, so let’s address them in turn:

 

1. Online Play Only

 

In an interview with PC Gamer, Blizzard senior producer Alex Mayberry says that the chief reason behind this decision was to stop cheating. With the buying and selling of items in the Auction House (covered later) for real-life money means that any way of making better ones would be a hugely unfair advantage.

Alright, keeping things online to try and stop cheating, sort of makes sense. But why not allow an offline mode as well as an online mode and keep the two entirely separate? Blizzard’s response to that one comes from executive producer Rob Pardo. It’s a bit of a lengthy quote but it bears reading fully:

We thought about this quite a bit. One of the things that we felt was really import was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto Battle.net. But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online.

So there are the official reasons behind making Diablo 3 online only. However, not everyone’s convinced as the other major reason that could have convinced Blizzard to make this decision would be in order to prevent piracy. If you have to play online through an authenticated account, then the video games pirates will have a very hard time of it.

This reason was definitely not highlighted by Blizzard in the PC Gamer interview, rather it was mentioned in passing:

If you’re finding this reasoning weak, you’re not alone. The more believable reason to deny players any kind of offline mode would be to prevent piracy. I asked Alex if that was the reason.

“One of them, yes.”

 

2. No Mods for Diablo 3

 

Diablo 2 mods

Again, the “no modding” policy is linked to the fears of undermining the Auction House item trade. While this is understandable, I can see how this would be the piece of news that infuriates some gamers the most.

Previous Blizzard titles have allowed vibrant modding communities to flourish. They haven’t always been officially supported but they have given modders the chance to show their skills and innovate with certain aspects of their beloved games. Particularly, the recent StarCraft 2 came with an incredibly flexible editor that really allowed users to show off their creatively.

If modding has to be sacrificed in order to maintain the players’ faith in the experimental Diablo 3 Auction House, it will be a big shame to see that kind of fan creativity not only discouraged, but actually prohibited.

 

3. Virtual Items, Real Money

 

It’s a well known saying in the video-gaming industry: never let your players buy their way to power. If players can become more powerful in a game by investing real world money to buy items/skills/etc then this has the unfortunate effect of making some players who don’t spend cash in this manner feel put out because it undermines the time and effort that they put in playing the game.

However, Blizzard have said that items will have a level cap that means a low level character won’t be able to become inordinately powerful with weapons and armor that are way above them. So there shouldn’t be a lvl 5 Barbarian running around wielding “Twin Axes of Impossible Fire Breathing Death” and unbalancing the game.

Blizzard have stated quite emphatically that the Diablo 3 Auction House is not meant as a money spinner. The developer hopes to “at least break even” but doesn’t expect to make a lot from its flat rate cut of each Auction House transaction. Blizzard claims that the feature was driven by the player demand for it. Rob Pardo said:

The players really want it. This is something that we know people are going to do either way. We can provide them a really safe, awesome, fun experience, or they’ll find ways of doing it elsewhere.

I must admit, I find the prospect of an Auction House where Blizzard actively encourages you to buy and sell gold and items for real world money absolutely fascinating. After so many years of battling gold spammers and sellers in World of Warcraft, Blizzard is now going to let its players go into business for themselves for real cash on Diablo 3.

However, if you don’t like the thought of the real world and its real cash intruding on your game, then there is another option. You can use Diablo 3‘s other, separate Auction House. This secondary AH only allows you to trade in the Diablo 3 currency of gold, with no real life money involved.

 

My 2 Gold Pieces

 

So it has been a big day for Diablo 3 news. It is news that has been met with dismay from some, delight for others and a lot of head-scratching from pretty much everyone as these decisions are surprising, to say the least. Here’s my reaction:

It only does Online: This isn’t too surprising really. It seems that with the ever-increasing effort that Blizzard ploughs into its online gaming service Battlenet, online-only games become ever more attractive for the developer. Fortunately, Battlenet is a well supported and easy to use service, meaning that it’s not a chore to have to play Blizzard games through it.

However, I do feel for the Diablo fans who either dislike playing online or actually have a poor internet connection, or worse, no internet connection at all. For gamers who want to avoid the hassle of worrying about random disconnects intruding on their game, today’s news will be a sore disappointment for them.

No modding: As previously mentioned, this is a crying shame. Not everyone uses and enjoys mods and far fewer people actually make them, but modders perform a vital service for both fans of the game and game developers themselves. Modders can experiment and think of doing things with a game that the developer hadn’t even thought of, let alone tried out.

By entirely shutting down this outlet for creative feedback from its fans, Blizzard will lose a valuable source of interesting ideas and another level of engagement that keeps fans talking about good games long after the initial hype dies down.

It’s understandable that with an online-only game with a player-driven item market would not allow for that kind of “under the hood” tinkering, but nevertheless, it’s a pity and this will disappoint a lot of hardcore Blizzard fans.

 

Real Money, Real Problems: The Auction House decision is the one that intrigues me the most. At this stage, I have no idea what long term ramifications this will have on Diablo 3‘s reception and on the game as a whole. We’ll have to wait until after Diablo 3 has been released and the item market has been stabilized to find out what the player response has been.

I’m actually quite excited to get stuck into some real-life trading through Diablo 3‘s Auction House. Not only will it let me recoup some, maybe all of the cost of the game itself, it’ll also present an interesting dilemma whenever something rare drops. Will I use it for myself? Or trade it with the community at large?

I think this could be a good thing. If World of Warcraft taught us anything, it’s that player driven markets work well and add an interesting dynamic to the game.

Plus, it will be nice to finally be able to complete an item set! I was always missing one or two pieces during my playthroughs of Diablo 2. If you still want to quest and kill enemies until you find your perfect gear, you can still do that. Only now, if you really can’t lay your hands on that last piece of kit, you can buy it from someone who has, for either Diablo gold or real world shiny coins!

The Diablo 3 release date is still TBA but hopefully this year’s Blizzcon will shed a little light on when the beta will go live at least. For more information on the recent developments, the analysis of a recent Blizzard press conference by Diablofans.com makes for a really good read.

 

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Ree Saunders

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Surfer, blogger and social media addict, Ree has definitely already seen that funny video you just posted on Facebook. He loves taking his kids on adventures (Instagram opportunities) and if his old body can take it, surfing the raging left-hand tubes of Indonesia or his native Jeffreys Bay beaches in South Africa. Otherwise, he'll be surfing the raging YouTubes instead.

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16 Comments on “Blizzard Bombshells Diablo 3: Online Only, No Mods and Real Cash Auctions

  • F**k that! Totally not going to buy this now. Way to go Blizz, it’s gone from a day 1 purchase to a no sale.

    Stupid real life cash auctions? How is that Diablo? Blizz know there gonna make money from it, like they don’t have enough already? So dumb, such a bad reason to stop people modding too.

    Reply
  • I wish Blizzard had just come out and said that it was about piracy and not give some bullshit excuse about not wanting players to waste their time in an offline mode before coming to Battlenet. It’s about stopping piracy, so just say that and be clear, don’t pretend it’s all about the gamer.

    Reply
  • Love Blizzard but I’m not so happy about this. Banning all mods is a slap in the face to the gamers who actually help make their games better, for free. If they wanted to experiment with this real money auction house that’s fine, but there should be an offline mode too where people can mod and basically play how they want to.

    Reply
  • Yeah…..I WAS extremely excited for Diablo 3 to come out….but, this has ruined it all for me. It’s going to turn into the same crap as World Of Warcraft. I don’t play WOW because it’s online only. I like to play games at my own pace. I don’t want for it to become something that consumes all of my free time. And in these types of games, you have to play constantly to actually get anywhere or gain anything. This is disappointing.

    Reply
  • Have they not realised that items will likely end up being ridiculously cheap?

    I have been excited about this game for years, now I’m not sure whether I will get it or not :(

    Reply
  • I have to admit, Diablo and Diablo 2 were my favorite games because they weren’t online. Are you seriously telling me that Blizzard is worried that people won’t make a SECOND character for online play? Keep it offline.

    Reply
  • I’m really looking forward to D3, the new auction house will give it another world – one of which will be interesting to explore. Though I’m quite sure it will take most people a long time to see in-game real money trading for items as normal. One thing is for certain though, real money for items would have happened no matter what, Blizzard might as well get in on it. I’m not too happy about leaving it mod-less though.

    Reply
  • http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/8/8/

    Secondly, people are confused about the online portion of the game. You don’t need to play with other people. In fact, you don’t ever need to interact with another person, ever. The online component of this game is that your character is stored on an online server, not on your personal computer. It isn’t making Diablo into WoW or any other MMORPG or anything like that. It’s merely fetching character data from a Battle.net server and putting it into your game. From there, you can solo or play with others.

    Reply
  • You know, people don’t seem to get it at all. By making this game online only, it takes away my basic ownership rights. If I don’t have an internet connection, then I don’t have the ability to play this game. A game, that if I bought, would be mine, basicly, which is to say, the ability to play the game whenever I want, with or without a connection. This means, I am in charge of when and where I want to play the game. I’m in charge, not Blizzard, or my quest internet connection. This is a basic right that I am not willing to give up. And yes, it is my choice, and I am clearly making it. They will, from now on, no matter how good their games are, not get one cent from me if they choose to continue down this path. I see this sort of thing is quickly becoming main stream and I don’t like it. I was one of the first people, in other words, my generation, to see the birth of gaming, and I understand the copy problems that go with it, but taking away my basic rights of ownership because of this issue is not the answer.

    Now, with that said, if Blizzard had stated in the first place that this game was going to be an online game only, then I would have understood that and been fine with it. But that was not the case.

    Anyways, it is their game, and they can do what they want with it. But before they continue to push this online only stuff, I hope they stop and take a good hard look at what this may lead to. I tell you now, this will lead to a major loss of revenue for them in time, or so I believe, and purhaps the gaming busness as a whole when other gaming companies choose to follow suit. This isn’t a good direction to go, it just isn’t. In other words, win now, cry later.

    Reply
    • robertopaolo311@YAHOO.com

      Joe, you were thinking the same exact thing I was. I never liked how M.M.O.’s started the whole E.U.L.A. “you don’t own any of this, this is a license/service to play” b.s. It does exactly what you said in taking away any rights to ownership that someone purchasing the game has. This is the whole debate going on with Youtube, I-Tunes, and internet radio station licensing. It’s a sick penny-pinching world out there right now and sooner or later the general public won’t own anything at all.

      I hope the online only policy will break Blizzard, although I fear there are too many spoiled children out there with parents who don’t give a hoot about what their kids are playing.

      It will take years for the industry to right itself over this whole micro-transaction, ownership/licensing, and internet verification/online only play. It will take some massive failures for this type of business model to go away and I am now hoping that Diablo III will be one of them, but I think the game is going to be too big to fail just as Starcraft II was despite its divvying up of factions for more sales (which is sickening too). Activision has been a crappy, crappy company for a very long time now.

      Reply
  • I was going to buy Starcraft 2 when the ten expansions are eventually released into a single purchase as they always are. But now, forget it. No more Diablo 3 or Starcraft 2…No more Blizzard! I may not even play the WOW tcg any longer. Yeah Blizzard, you pissed off your regulars with this online requirement crap. It’s free now but pay later. No…I’m not falling for it. Not to mention…What if we want to play in a restaurant, school, etc. Oops, no can do. This is the most stupid choice you’ve ever made. As they would say in Spanish, ‘¡No mas Diablo 3 por mi!’ (No more Diablo 3 for me!)

    Reply
  • Security and anti-botting / duping are some of the reasons why it’s ‘online only’.

    I’ve never been a fan of online only type games, whether it’s ISP throttling at night, or server errors, we are going to experience problems. That is simply not fair at all, nor would there be much of a repercussion for experiencing server-side issues.

    I really don’t know what the alternative is. Yet, since there are co-op and future pvp modes, auction house and so on, I’m sure Blizzard is trying to minimize the hacking attempts.

    My best advice is hold off for awhile, when Diablo 3 is finally released. Wait for reviews to come in regarding server stability. Otherwise you’re taking a risk. Knock on wood: I never had a problem with Anet’s Guild Wars, yet the sheer population was much smaller at anytime than Blizzard’s WoW. I’m unfamiliar with WoW user experiences with regards to server stability.

    For those with lesser or no internet connection, I feel your pain. You can thank all the arse holes out there that have hacked/pirated games for years, leading to highly protective measures put in place by gaming studios. The reaction is not unexpected at all, however unfortunate and inconvenient for many of us.

    Final advice: if you know a thief / pirate etc., call him out on it. Why not? It’s because of people like him/her, that have forced the rest of us to deal with ‘online only’ issues.

    Reply
    • i agree with you, josh and thiswayorthat. i’m now venturing into other games that can be played offline and im glad to have found a few. perhaps blizzard should have stopped at the authentication keys and 30-day re-login measures for this game. that would have been a very good compromise. all these added security features and endless downloads are hurting honest patrons more it seems.

      Reply

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