The Devil IS In The Details. You Just Need To Pay Attention To The Little Things…

So, I’m working on my Diablo III review and I had to stop to vent some of the steam coming from my ears here, so as not to spoil the review with too many complaints. I’m giving the game what I feel is a solid score based on ignoring a few things, as in despite the problems, there’s a great little game here. On the other hand, speaking for those who want to play the game by can’t. I can’t just slap the blinders on like a few other reviewers who have that perfect online setup and/or are of the “get over it” mentality that’s going to more or less kill gaming at some point when crap really goes bad (e.g., servers go down like the Hindenburg for an extended period and no one can even play the game).

Oh, I don’t hate Blizzard at all, folks. I’m just wondering how they didn’t see the launch day server crush coming. In addition to selling the game at retail and online, they gave DIII away for free to many World of Warcraft players, who happily took them up on the offer. As I’ve said elsewhere, an offline solo play mode (and LAN functionality for those that wanted it) would have been smart options for such a huge release, no matter what the company line is. Hell, I’d bet real money that the amount of day one bitching would have been about 90% less if people had something to play after waiting so long (either that 12 years of calendar time or those few hours on line at the midnight launches)…

I’m no programmer, industry analyst or suit and tie bean-counter, but even I know there are ways to get it done while keeping old and new players somewhat happy. Make it mandatory that everyone register the game after installation before they play so you can keep track of actual sales (outside of review copies)? Yes. Make them get a BattleNet account even if they have NO intention of playing nice with others online? Sure, why not? More tracking is good for both parties especially if a solo player new to the experience says “Hey, let’s try this MMO stuff out and see if I like it.” There are a few other solutions to this issue that I’ve seen elsewhere, but it seems that Blizzard was intent on doing it their way at the cost of alienating a “small” percentage of Diablo fans (and the ENTIRE percentage of new players who didn’t fit the game’s restrictions).

Enforced evolution, especially in this case is actually a lousy thing, folks. I read a report last week that said Blizzard expects to move at least 3.5 million copies of DIII, which is pretty awesome for them. That said, wouldn’t that number at least DOUBLE if MORE people could play the game. More specifically, those with crappy internet connections, no internet connections, anti-social folks who happen to be gamers and so forth and so on? If the purpose of the company at the end of the day is to make money, why not be total mercenaries about it and open the game up to whomever WANTS to play it, no matter what sort of connection they have?

Look, I get that they need to protect their game from thieves and “hackers” and bears (oh, my!) or whatever, although I’d imagine it would be hard and weird to pirate the game and play it on a Blizzard server without someone knowing what was up. Sure, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with Diablo III when you can actually play it (it’s as addictive as ever, even with some major changes to the formula). Nevertheless, it’s a bit too lame to lock out potential paying customers just because you want to mine their data and rake in their real life cash for fake items in your auction house (that wasn’t working at launch or a few days afterward). There were a city’s worth of people who couldn’t play online telling Blizzard “WE HAVE MONEY TO SPEND ON DIABLO III! TAKE IT FROM US, PLEASE!” But all they got was a cheerful “We can’t hear you, sorry!” from the company.

Which, by the way, translates into Runic Games making Torchlight II a potential “Diablo killer” in terms of merely allowing as many people who CAN play the game to go out and do so (and for only twenty bucks, at that). All they need is a good TV spot and enough word of mouth and there goes the neighborhood. Or at least a small slice of Hell that used to belong to Blizzard…

That said, I’d be mad as hell if I paid for a game online (OR offline) and couldn’t play because too many were trying to do the same thing or the game had other issues that basically left me with a shiny coaster spinning in my DVD drive. I know some hardcore super Diablo fans out there are taking this in stride, but can you imagine buying a new internet-enabled TV and not being able to watch any programs on the thing because it relied on an connection to get programming and left you with NO other viewing options? Without a STABLE connection, you’re looking at a blank screen (or more accurately, some error messages, then a broken screen you just threw that remote through), no matter how happy you are that you’re an early adopter.

Maybe instead of that free notepad packed in to make the box weigh something, there should have been a pack of Diablo III playing cards instead, just so those who got the game early can get in some solitaire action when the next set of issues smack them offline for a spell…

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One thought on “The Devil IS In The Details. You Just Need To Pay Attention To The Little Things…

  1. I agree this game shouldn’t be online only. I’m playing co-op with a buddy and as far as multi-player experiences go it’s not that great. The online experience comes no where close to justifying the games requirements. I’m sure I’ll keep playing it as I’ve already spent my money but this game is not that great. Don’t get me wrong, so far It’s fun and I like it… but it’s not great and I don’t think I’ll be getting my full value out of my $60.

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