Blizzard Talks Diablo III’s New Path, Defends Online Req

By Nathan Grayson on November 13th, 2013 at 3:00 pm.

Welp, that’s it. I’ve done all I can do. In an interview with Diablo III: Reaper of Souls‘ lead designers, I attempted to comprehend once and for all why they refuse to simply add an *option* to go offline on PC. The auction house will soon be gone, the console version has no such requirement, and I cannot conceive a universe in which the game’s community suddenly shatters like a beautiful ice crystal just because its members don’t always have to be connected to the internet. And yet, here we are. On the upside, lead designer Kevin Martens and art director Christian Lichtner actually had some rather encouraging things to say about the rest of the game’s direction, though our chat was ultimately, sadly cut short. 

RPS: You’ve decided to drop the Auction House, which has made many fans quite happy. However, a lot of damage has already been done – not just to Diablo III’s economy, but to your relationship with players.

I don’t think people remember how mad they themselves were that they had an offline mode and online mode in Diablo II.

Martens: I mean, maybe it strained the relationship for a while. The thing is – and this is a Blizzard thing that long predates Diablo III – we’re playing and watching the game. We don’t just ship a project and move on to the next game. All of them get a lot of work.

There are two things that made getting rid of the auction house make sense. One of them was Loot 2.0 locking down, making sure that finding loot would be so satisfying and fun that no one would even miss the auction house. And the other thing is, we did some experiments binding just the top level of stuff. The Hellfire Ring, the Marquis-level gems, and whatnot. We sort of took some of the power out of the trading economy.

I think what we learned about the auction house is, people used it way more than we thought they would. Trading is a valid way to get items, but we know – and we’ve decided to put our stake in the ground – that finding a monster and killing it and getting the item is the most fun way to play. Has the most lasting satisfaction.

Now that we’ve nailed that, we feel comfortable getting rid of the auction house.

RPS: What happens to the economy when you flip the switch? I imagine people are going to go nuts with real money and gold-based sales before then. How do you plan to mitigate potential fallout from that?

Martens: Certain parts of the market will inflate, and others will collapse. The short version is, the expansion adds a lot of new items and item levels. It expands the power of the game, all the classes are being rebalanced, and we’re adding new properties to items – even existing items, when new versions drop.

The legendary thing and the new gem tiers pretty much takes care of a lot of that stuff. People can do anything they want. They can corner any market and amass gold or gems or whatever. That will help them a little, but not a lot. It won’t give them a huge advantage in the next economy after the 2.0 patch. That economy is full of new things, and all of them require you to play the game in order to obtain them.

And that’s what I think was missing from the game. Playing auction houses can be fun – that whole sort of market-cornering aspect can be a cool kind of minigame – but it took away from the core fantasy of what our game is. It’s about killing monsters.

The expansion also makes the simple act of killing monsters more fun. It’s kind of a whole-package solution. Doubtless, we’ll have to do tweaks and whatnot afterward, but I think we’re on our way to solving the trading issue.

RPS: Auction house or not, many people also ended up finding Diablo III’s endgame to be pretty repetitive. Drab, not-very-well-randomized environments, etc. Sure, it’s an endgame focused on item farming, but I think there are plenty of options to alleviate tedium.

Martens: Yeah, we’re improving randomization a lot. Adventure Mode is the promise of Diablo randomness working as intended. We had all of these different elements: the randomization system – the engine is very powerful at doing that. It can make random dungeons, put items all around in places, all the loot tables to make random items, etc, etc.

So we had that old-fashioned [structure of] play through the campaign four times in a row with increasing levels. Normal, nightmare, hell, inferno. That made players find different efficient parts of the campaign that they’d just play over and over again. It’s part of player psychology, and it’s understandable.

I think we had good things and bad things about that, but ultimately we took all the elements from the campaign, we put them all in adventure mode, and we have this mixing and matching system to keep variety fresh. And we just made that the best way to get loot. So variety has also become the most rewarding gameplay experience.

Lichtner: I would also add that, in Reaper of Souls, our exteriors are finally fully randomized. There are no longer patches that are predetermined. So that’s even more randomization.

Martens: We’ve also got Nephalem Rifts, which are pretty small – they take 10-30 mins to play through – and we’ve realized we can break a lot of our own rules with them. They’re constrained, so everything that happens stays within that zone. We can do things we couldn’t do in campaigns that’d be easy for people to take advantage of.

We can do things that’d be tedious in a larger setting, but in a smaller one are freaking awesome. Like, one example is the summoner monsters. You’ve got your skeleton summoners – they laugh at you and they summon skeletons – and in normal gameplay you try to target them first. We also have the zombie mothers, and where they vomit, more zombies rise. We’ve stuffed a zone with those two alone, and so quickly it starts filling up with zombies and skeletons. To the point where you can barely move. That would be terrible if you had to get across an entire zone.

But for five minutes? You know, using all your movement skills, being a lot more defensive – it’s awesome. Same thing with buffs. Like, we can give you a lightning buff that one-shots every monster. You can just run down the hallway and everything dies. It can only last for 15-30 seconds, and it only works in Rifts. It’s a little period of arcade awesomeness in an otherwise random dungeon.

And those are just a couple of millions of combinations that could roll. You may never see those. We also play through, find especially neat combinations, save them out, and make sure they can roll again in the future.

RPS: OK, now the big one. The auction house is out, but the online requirement is still in. You’ve explained that it’s all about community and whatnot, but would adding in a simple option to play offline really hurt? I mean, the game’s already that way on console, and it’s not like your community would just up and disappear. Plus, if they did, I think that’d mean they never enjoyed being online with your game in the first place.

Martens: It’s interesting when you’re in the moment in gaming culture – when you’re playing the game right now – we see its flaws very well. When we look at the long history, it becomes sort of a rosy past. I don’t think people necessarily remember how mad they themselves were that they had an offline mode and online mode in Diablo II.

This will probably be controversial for me to say. People will be like, “I wasn’t mad!” But I was there at the time, and then I studied this for a living. It sucks when your friend or brother is online and he wants to join this game, but you realize you’re an offline character and he’s an online character, and there’s no way to transfer over because offline characters can be hacked and hex-edited to hell and back, right?

And then we had that split between expansion characters and normal ones as well [in Diablo II]. The community was inherently divided. And that’s what it boils down to. Long before any of this happened, we wanted to solve the trading problem. But before we even had the auction house, the always online thing was there.

The game is most fun when you can play with other people. To be ghetto-ed off to the side and not part of the real game, we didn’t want that to happen. This is an online game. We want people to play together. All of that predates the auction house. I can see how people would think otherwise, but the auction house was a salve we came up with in the last few months of the project. It was a six-year project.

RPS: Diablo III’s been out for a while, though. Don’t you think that changes the context a little? It’s not like people would be blindsided by this. They’d just have a new option, and so long as you explained the ramifications clearly – “This character won’t be able to go online, here is why” – I feel like most people would be OK. Better than them not being able to play the game at all, right?

Martens: Well, we have to remember that a lot of new players are still coming in regularly. You can have a solution that works really well for the most knowledgable people, but you can make it much worse for the people who want to join the community as well. We’re adding more community features as well. Clans and groups are coming too. You know, this is the game we made.

RPS: What if people don’t want to commit to a community? What if they just want to play the game?

Martens: We didn’t make that game. That’s the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we’re not going to turn this game into that game. We have the online mode because we learned a lot over the many, many years that Diablo II was in development.

That was the wrong choice to allow people to play offline, and we still stand by that. And we think Internet access is widespread. If someone has no Internet access, then yeah, Diablo III is not the game for them.

[PR motions that time is up]

RPS: Thanks for your time.

——

Postscript: It’s worth noting that I still had many other questions for Blizzard about its commitment to always online – both in regard Diablo going forward and future games. BlizzCon is, unfortunately, a place where hustle and bustle constantly threaten to overwhelm, and schedules dominate. I don’t think I had a single interview that didn’t get cut short, so them’s the breaks.

Given the opportunity, I would’ve liked to delve deeper into notions of Blizzard’s love/hate affair with Diablo II, the assumption that its audience won’t understand one whole new option so why even try to explain it, assumptions in general (Blizzard made quite a few of them here, some of them completely astounding), why it’s fairly hypocritical to look at one part of your audience and say, “We will do everything for you because we want this game to reach the widest crowd possible,” but turn to another and say, “Nope, go away,” and Diablo III’s potential for longevity (or lack thereof) in an era far removed from Diablo II’s heyday.

This sort of attitude has become pretty much par for the course with Blizzard, though, unfortunately. “You may think you know what you want, but we know better.” And sure, game development – good, confident development – requires that mentality to some extent, but there’s a breaking point. A time at which it’s worth noting the constantly erupting volcano of demand and considering a new approach. Or at least not writing it off in a, frankly, sometimes dismissive fashion.

I’m hoping to follow up with Blizzard, but it can be tricky to get further answers from them.

I should stress that I do like the direction Reaper of Souls is headed in, taken on its own terms. Blizzard seems to have finally remembered why Diablo first ensnared so many with his sultry, lava-encrusted eye slits, and it wasn’t economy and trading. New systems for randomization sound interesting and – in some cases – even like legitimate steps forward instead of sweat-soaked retreats into Diablo II territory. Also, groups and clans on the multiplayer side of things sound like solid, if hardly revolutionary ideas. I don’t think Reaper of Souls is a world-beater at this point, but it’s looking decently OK.

Still though, since the online requirement is here to stay, I can’t help but wish Blizzard would try to take advantage of it in more interesting ways. Think Path of Exile’s league/race events, which are based on, you know, Diablo II’s ladders. On the upside, it seems that Blizzard is at least experimenting with the idea of propping up a few D3 ladders in Reaper of Souls, but they’re being pretty cagey about the much-requested feature’s chances of making it into the final game. PVP, meanwhile, is still in the works according to Blizzard, but progress doesn’t sound particularly promising.

I’m glad Diablo III is improving. I really am. Right now it’s still straddling a wobbly fence with conflicting priorities growling on each side, but I’d like to see it eventually become amazing. One way or another. And if it doesn’t? Well, it’s not like the genre’s lacking options.

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189 Comments »

  1. Palindrome says:

    “We don’t make that game”

    Indeed you don’t and as such I won’t be buying your game.

    Their excuses for the online requirement seemingly get more hollow over time as well.

    • bstard says:

      I think Blizz is doing the right thing here. All the hacking and torrenting maybe has become the norm, but that isnt a reason to allow it in D3. Shame a few traveling train people wont be able to play en-route, but really, how much % of the players is this? I dont have a clue, but my balls say it’s a very low number. The always online, always able to co-op is a nice feature imo. For people willing to pay. And! D3 sucked as a game. I dont think I can become drunk enough to impulse buy this expansion.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        People who use this excuse haven’t the slightest clue about how security works. Notice how Blizzard isn’t using it, at least not anymore.

        The really short version (besides “go read a book”) is that having a completely separate, isolated singleplayer option does not impact the security of a properly designed online game one iota.

      • Lagwolf says:

        How about people who live in rural areas that don’t have perfect internet? The always on requirement from Blizzard is idiotic, arrogant and shows a cluelessness about broadband penetration in outside urban areas. Or are they don’t they care about people without fat connections?

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          I’m in that boat, and I’ve thus only ever played the console version. Which, by the by, works extremely well without always-on features and in no way feels like a lesser game than any ARPG I’ve ever played.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Because one is an MMO and the other is an action-rpg, the 3rd in a series that had offline gameplay. Apples and oranges as opposed to, uh, fruit?

          • Presbytier says:

            One more question: how does the genre actually make any difference?

          • Distec says:

            Because of how the genres are designed? Let’s compare D3 to, say, World of Warcraft.

            WoW has shared areas with many people; more than 4.
            –D3 does not.
            WoW has group quests that require a party of players.
            –D3 nevers gives you anything you can’t handle yourself.
            WoW has raids and battlegrounds that require 25 or up to 40 players.
            –There is no boss in D3 that requires teamwork, just damage spam.
            WoW has an actual in-game economy for trading and crafting.
            –D3 has an entirely separate auction house outside of the game.
            WoW has guilds that provide group activities or shared goals.
            –What would you need a D3 guild for, ever?
            WoW has a sense of server community, where you learn to recognize players, guild names, and reputations.
            –There is no D3 in-game community.

            Regardless of what you think of their quality in Blizzard’s behemoth game, these are all present elements that distinguish their title from passably solo affairs like D3. It necessitates an internet connection because those features are hobbled or outright missing without it, which breaks the game or at least makes it significantly less entertaining. I’m sure somebody else can break this down more succinctly than I am doing right now. But I feel like the difference between the two couldn’t be more obvious unless you have never fully understood/played an MMO.

      • Sian says:

        A few travelling train people? What’s with people like me who’s provider can’t manage to keep the internet connection stable? Or people who live in places where there’s no internet connection? Or people who get high pings and lag when they want to play alone?

      • Viroso says:

        Please, it isn’t just for people who want to play on a train. This has gotten really old now, anyone who’s played the game has seen that it’s not just that. At least anyone who’s not used to crappy service.

        Me and my brother used to play D2 all the time, we both had single player characters. I played battle.net sometimes but didn’t like it because everyone just rushed, you couldn’t find someone to play that wanted to clear every map, one by one. So we played on that TCP/IP mode. We played it a lot and were excited for D3, so we got it on release.

        So right from the start always online showed it’s problem, the release was awful. But that was just a week, no big deal. Problems continued though.

        My brother’s usually very busy with his doctorate and my job at the time took me away from home 15 days at a time, I worked offshore. We rarely had a chance to play, and while I was away the always online requirement made it impossible for me to play solo too.

        When we could find the time to play, too many times did we come across bullshit issues. Server down, server maintenance, etc. If it was once or twice it’d be okay, but it was too many times. That never happened with D2. Then there was the lag too, even when playing alone. Single player lag, it’s ridiculous.

        After that there were security problems. First there was the hacking, which of course took down the servers and of course me and my brother tried to play at that time not knowing what was going on. Then there’s Blizzard’s paranoid safety measures.

        Once I got my password wrong TWICE. Just two times did I type it wrong, it blocked my account. I don’t have an iPhone so no key maker thing for me. It was a Sunday night, we had scheduled a game but it wasn’t happening because the only way to unlock it was calling Blizzard, and at least in my region they don’t work Sunday night. So that was another game foiled.

        After that there was the iOS7 upgrade problem with battle.net’s key maker thing. Fortunately I could warn my brother about it before he updated to iOS7 with that thing installed on his phone, else he’d have to go through a big hassle too. Oh and I found about that thing not through an email from Blizzard, but through a report on Kotaku.

        Aside from all of the problems which I have personally experienced and that have made the game worse, there’s the fact that this thing is unnecessary and by accepting it we are giving away something that is good to have, autonomy over what we buy. I don’t have a problem if a game is always online. Some games have to be like that, they only make sense online. But that’s not D3. D3 is always online because of piracy and because Blizzard wants absolute control.

        Everybody else finds better solutions to deal with that, not Blizzard though.

        • Atrocious says:

          Blizzard found a solution: They say “This game is not for you”.

          My problems with D3 weren’t as severe as yours, but yeah “singleplayer lag” is ridiculous and I had experienced that a few times too.

          • MattM says:

            The lag always hit at the worst times too. Whenever their were a large number of enemies surrounding you and you used an escape ability, the game would snap you back into the crowd.

        • Stephen Roberts says:

          That was a damn good write up Viroso. I have been waiting for a while to see the price of d3 drop to an acceptable amount but perhaps no amount is acceptable.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Then maybe they should work on the reliability. When a friggin MOBA lets me resume where I left off if my connection drops momentarily it’s inexcusable that a singleplayer game forces me back to the checkpoint. And allowing lag to happen when playing singleplayer is just plain shit. I’m glad I never tried hardcore because I did have quite a few lag-induced deaths in my playthrough. Singular there because the game’s quality didn’t warrant doing all that again.

        Also “hurting the pirates” isn’t a justification for DRM. That’s stupid and petty. Did the online requirement actually increase the number of sales enough to make up for its cost? Or did it perhaps even hurt the company more than it helped? It certainly hurt their reputation. Yeah, it probably hurt pirates too but they’re selling a game, not performing a torture operation. They sacrificed the quality of the product we pay money for in order to hurt those who don’t pay money for it.

        • MykulJaxin says:

          I’m curious to see the final numbers from the upcoming Witcher 3 to see if the whole “PIRACY!!!” thing matters as much as everyone would have me believe. I love in the video recently posted here on RPS that they have a good enough relationship with their community that they can just not even bother with DRM. Based on what I’ve seen all the big publishers could take of few pages from CD Projekt Red’s playbook… We want you to love us again, Blizzard!

    • killias2 says:

      They did make that game.. for consoles.

      • zaphod42 says:

        That’s the funniest part, and it puts egg on blizzard’s face. “We can’t do offline, it wouldn’t work”

        Meanwhile they’re selling a console version of the game that not only has offline, but only works that way. And yet one assumes that people are buying it anyways, or else why would they be selling it?

        How can they claim that they know that not having offline is better for us while at the same time selling a version that has offline only to other people? Clearly they see the merit in being offline.

        Its so stupid. If they cared, they’d give us offline and LAN play. But they don’t. They’re arrogant now, they’ve made too much money off WoW and their culture has become corporate. They’re just Activision’s dog now.

      • Freud says:

        Four-player co-op on the same screen kinda is a different game.

        • Drinking with Skeletons says:

          But you can totally play it online, too. The console version seems to be overall the superior version, as you have offline, same-screen coop, LAN functionality, and full online capabilities.

          • Lemming says:

            Yep, the PS3 version is the only one I was willing to buy, and me and my girlfriend played it in co-op from start to finish, having a blast. That never would’ve happened with the PC version as is.

          • Baines says:

            The PS4 version may be the superior version. As far as I’ve seen, Blizzard never confirmed Reaper of Souls for the PS3/360 version. It has only been confirmed for the PS4 version.

    • zaphod42 says:

      Seriously, the arrogance here on Blizzard’s part is unbelievable. The double-speak is crazy too. “We listen to fans and change the game to be what they want! We’re part of the community! We listen!” followed by “well we didn’t make that game, we know whats better for you than you do.”

      NO YOU DO NOT, BLIZZARD.

      • briktal says:

        Well, “unless it’s a really dumb idea” would cover most of it.

      • Hyomoto says:

        What kind of psychotic are you? If the game periodically administers an electric shock and instead of quitting you repeatedly ask them to remove the shock, you are being as stupid as they are. Why would you even buy into that?

        “This game is not for you.”

        “YES, YES IT IS BLIZZARD. AND IF YOU’D JUST MAKE IT THE WAY I WANT IT, WE’D BOTH BE HAPPIER.”

        I honestly don’t see what’s so wrong with their answer. You should have gotten a refund while they were being offered and moved onto one of the other seventeen hundred ARPG’s currently available.

        • Presbytier says:

          Do you play WoW? That game requires an always online connection as do all online only games.D3 is an online game like WoW and yet no one whines about no offline mode for WoW.

          • Soleyu says:

            Except that it’s not. It’s not at all like WoW.

            A multiplayer only game needs a constant connection, I can get behind that, because the game was designed to be played with other people, and playing alone does not work. D3 is not a MP only game, it let’s you play single player, hell it was designed as a SP game, albeit one with a very big support for MP. There is no excuse for a SP game to require an always on connection, especially if the only reason it has one is DRM (make no mistake, that is the reason, with the Auction House gone there are no valid reasons to not give us the option to play offline)

            The whole idea that to play and enjoy the game you need to be online, that this is a MP game, is bull, as evidenced by the fact that you can play it offline on consoles and it works as well, if not better because there is no SP lag, as the PC always on version. it’s a whole different kind of game from WoW and other online only games.

    • Matt_W says:

      Here’s where I’m glad I gave some dollars to the Grim Dawn Kickstarter.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      I love that as soon as he said that he got his plug pulled by Public Relations. It feels almost like maybe he said something he shouldn’t?

      Of course this is only the wildest speculation.

      • Baines says:

        I wonder if RPS really ran out of time, or PR had instructions to cut short any session that got stuck on the “always online” issue. (On the assumption that anyone who asked more than once or twice would likely spend the next several minutes hammering the issue.)

        • Presbytier says:

          To me it sounds like an author trying to make connections where there are none. Instead waisting their time with a question that’s been asked and answered dozens of times why not try something original.

    • Unhooooly says:

      Indeed you don’t and as such I won’t be buying your game.

      Then for the love of GOD, DON’T BUY IT. And Shut the heck up…..

  2. Bull0 says:

    Unbelievable hubris on Blizzard’s part, but we knew that already

    • Giuseppe says:

      That’s putting it very mildly. The truth is…

      Blizzard is so full of $hit these days it’s ridiculous. But you’re right, we already knew that.

  3. Bluestormzion says:

    I actually OWN a copy of this game, having been given to me, and the only thing stopping me from actually playing it is that goddamn Online Single Player Requirement. It has nothing to do with if I HAVE internet access, if I want to play a 1-player game ALONE, why can’t I???

    • tormos says:

      Because you might have BADWRONGFUN and your infinitely superior friends at Blizzard wanted to make sure that you wouldn’t do that. Because they love you.

    • Durandir says:

      Sorry, but I don’t get this. I understand it when people are pissed because they cannot play the game because they have shitty/no internet. But if you have internet access, then why don’t just play it? You don’t have to make it a multiplayer experience if you don’t want to.
      I played though most of the game with my brother and my landlord, but I have probably played just as much of it alone. And I had a great time with people and alone.

      • Bull0 says:

        For my part, the online SP meant that I was playing with a lot of latency, which lead to cheesy deaths from the input lag alone and put me right off. Plus incessant maintenance and downtime, server outages, etc. It’s just a really crap single-player game for all those reasons and an offline mode would be a fucking godsend.

        • Durandir says:

          Then you are one of those whom I understand. I fully understand it when issues with internet sours the game experience. I too had that a few weeks when my internet was spotty as hell, and I was completely unable to play it for that time. Which sucks, but I still like the game.
          It’s the people who on principle won’t play it because it is always online (even though they could play it perfectly) I just don’t fully get. But I also think way too many “gamers” (I hate that term, but it’s the easiest to use) whine too much…

          • Longtime Listener says:

            “I could not play the game due to bullshit drm”
            “I still support the game having bullshit drm”

          • Grygus says:

            Yes, but nobody can play it perfectly. No internet connection never goes down, no server goes without downtime. That’s the point: no matter how rosy your view of ‘always online’ is, it inevitably introduces unnecessary problems in single player with no benefit to the player. Pretending that its for our own good is blatantly false.

            I guess it’s kind of nice that Blizzard retains that pure indie mindset of making the game THEY want to play, and if you play it too then sweet, but then they pull money-grubbing stunts like the RMAH and all the microtransactions for their pay-to-play MMO, and it sure seems like they just have their heads so far up their own asses that they genuinely cannot see anything but What Blizzard Wants. Which is fine, that’s fine if you want to run your business that way. Just stop lying about it. Much more than the decisions I disagree with, it’s the lies that annoy me.

          • Baines says:

            Even if I had better internet (I don’t), I’d object to the always online requirement. Lag and net hiccups will always be an issue in online games. And maybe I want to be doing something else with my internet, and just want to play a game while my internet is occupied by some other heavy usage.

            As for people opposing it on principle, it is on principle. You acknowledge that people have reasons to not want the always online requirement. Companies are going to continue to push towards things that favor companies, not consumers. I want to recall that Blizzard had previously spoken about this game being one that would push forward the acceptance of “always online” requirements, and other companies have been looking at it in a similar light.

          • harbinger says:

            Personally I’m simply not buying Always Online games on principle alone, no matter how good they might be.
            There is such a thing as DRM that goes too far for some people and prevents a purchase.

          • zal says:

            Also so that my every behavior isn’t constantly watched and aggregated by some random corporation simply because it can? You can play the game without being online.

            If kelloggs attached little RFID chips that would only open your cereal if you logged into ROOSTERCOM and incidentally monitored how much and when you ate it and how long you spent pouring it into the bowl, and stopped letting you pour cereal if your internet dropped. would you still be saying “why do you care, you still get your cereal! whats the big deal if kelloggs insists you be online to do it?”

            Or how about something like your local gym? What if they told you you had to connect your phone to a 1-800-GYM-ROCK line, to use their exercise equipment, so that you could talk to other GYM-ROCK users if you decided to. but that they would INSTANTLY cut your exercise bike if your phone hung up.

            Or how about the local bar/pub/restaraunt? or a blue ray you rented. All these things could also be online, and they could even find ways to make it so you couldn’t enjoy them if you WEREN’T online… would you question people getting upset about these?

            Personally, I’d immediately just go somewhere else if the place down the street from me insisted I sign into BARNET to enjoy my fun (with my own mobile minutes of course), and insist I stop drinking and go sit outside if their BARNET FUNCONNECT went down, so that I didn’t miss out on my GLOBAL BARNET FUNCONNECT FUN. and yea I guess that makes me an idealist, for believing I can handle when to be on and offline, and when to be involved or not involved with my friends or a company and its product without having to be 24/7 babysat with my online systems, and my bandwidth.

            I can only hope that, eventually people start to realize books/movies/ebooks/games don’t have to be always online any more than a gym, coffee place, your cereal does. and people stop saying “whats the big deal” when people ask why a product is expecting them to jump through all these crazy hoops to use it.

            EDIT: someone design and patent these things! 20 years from now you’ll be thanking yourself!

    • RandomEngy says:

      You can. Just disable quickjoin and nobody can join your game, not even your friends.

  4. Forgoroe says:

    Wow… How stupid.

  5. cyrenic says:

    Did time really run out or were the Blizzard Reps tired of answering tough questions? Hard to tell just reading but I get the sense there was frustration on both sides of the interview by the time it got cut off.

  6. Dominic White says:

    Count me out until the expanded version of the game hits the PS4. Dodge-rolling, offline play and more.

  7. kud13 says:

    ” What if people don’t want to commit to a community? What if they just want to play the game?

    Martens: We didn’t make that game. That’s the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we’re not going to turn this game into that game. ”

    And that is the reason Blizz stopped getting my money right after they forced me out of my offline Wings of Liberty account.

    I stopped playing SC2 then (it was about 3 years ago). A few months ago I got an e-mail from Blizz support that my account was locked, b/c of “suspicious activity” (probably hacked).

    I couldn’t give a toss. it has no payment info associated with it, b/c I bought SCII in retail, and I don’t have any other games on it.

    • mickygor says:

      The most annoying thing is that they -did- make that game. For Playstation. “We didn’t make that game” far from being vapid, is actually false.

  8. drewski says:

    I do think Blizzard are entitled to make the game according to their vision. If that’s always online, so be it.

    Not for me, but that’s OK.

    • Grey Poupon says:

      Would be nice if they’d just stop saying how much better it is with always-online though. I don’t remember being angry when D2 came out, quite the opposite. Most of us had local and battle.net chars. I was there too, but for some reason that guy makes it sound like his memory of the events is somehow better than mine. Not that I care much for D3 anymore, the constant PR spins are just annoying.

      Now only if the Path of Exile devs would learn to balance their game a tad bit better.

      • diamondmx says:

        Well, probably a bunch of people were annoyed with how Battle.net worked.

        “Your character will be deleted if you do not log in for 30 days” … what? Is my couple of megabytes of character data really going to bring your entire infrastructure to a grinding halt?

        Also, am I right in remembering that whilst Online mode was designed to prevent cheating, it did not actually prevent cheating? People might be a bit peeved by restrictions that don’t actually help the thing they’re supposed to be for.

        • Snargelfargen says:

          Well you just play on open battle.net where cheating was indeed rampant, but single player characters were allowed. It worked great for me and my friends, we weren’t interested in playing with randoms anyways and it let us use our high level characters from single-player.

          • zal says:

            but you didn’t have FUN, you might’ve thought you did, but the man from blizzard clearly said you were angry. I think you really need to rethink your past a little, and take those rose colored glasses off.

            That said, Its really easy to confuse rage with fun though. Like right now, man I am seething with FUN at Blizzard, I forgot just how FUN a person can get!

      • derbefrier says:

        well, they would quit saying it if people quit asking and just accepted the decision. They Obviously have no intention of changing their minds, at least in the short term. Right now you just have to accept that’s what they want and either play it or don’t. No amount of explanation is going to convince detractors of anything than what they already believe. Its basically a broken record at this point. Its time to let it go and move on.

  9. Moraven says:

    RPS at BlizzCon? Wish I knew to say hello at least. Although I was watching WCS SC2 mostly.

    Probably the most straight answer so far on the online requirement. Much like a F2P game is not for anyone offline, they feel D3 fits the same bill due to how the game ease of co-oping. But people still want to play offline, they want to cheat and use hex editors for fun. They want to LAN. I imagine that % of people is far less than D2 coming out, the audience is still there offline and Open Battle.Net.

  10. Skeletor68 says:

    Currently playing Path of Exile which is immense fun and is a pretty good D2 substitute right now.

    I’ll still get Reaper of Souls as it sounds like it is fixing an awful lot of the issues I had with D3, but if they think having an offline option put in the menu with a nice strong disclaimer popping up is too much for their audience then I feel a little insulted!

    • killias2 says:

      Yeah, screw Blizzard and their always-on requirement. Praise Path of Exile and its always-on requirement!

      • theoriginaled says:

        I know youre being pedantic but there really is a huge difference between Path of Exile’s we’re always online so we can offer you things and Blizzards we’re always online so we can keep you from doing things.

        • killias2 says:

          I’ll agree that I’m being pedantic, but I still think it’s awfully contradictory.

          I mean, let’s take the standard complaints issued at D3 for lack of online:

          1. You can’t play it if you have a shitty internet connection.
          2. You can’t play it on the train.
          3. You can’t play it if the server is down.
          4. It’s far less convenient to play a LAN-style game.

          Tell me, how does PoE deal with all of these? How would they answer these issues?
          I think I have an idea:
          “We didn’t make that game.”

          Either the issues above are blown out of proportion so that people can pat themselves on the back for hating “the man,” or people love F2P so much that they’re willing to throw all their “totally legitimate” moral concerns out the window for F2P-style mechanics. Which is it?

          • Mercykiller101 says:

            Path of Exile doesn’t have an Offline Console Version while the lead devs are saying that they “didn’t make that game”.

          • killias2 says:

            So you’re saying that they can say “We didn’t make that game” more defensibly than Blizzard. Fair enough, but I don’t think it’s just the console version that is creating the heated response I’m seeing.

          • derbefrier says:

            He actually never said he had anything against the online requirement. He only commented on the dumbass exuse blizz gave for keeping the game online. So he wasn’t being hypocritical at all. You just seemed to read what you wanted probably because you were waiting for an opppurtunity to post that. I mean he even straight up said he was going to get the new expansion.

            I am not a fan of D3 at all for bunches of reasons, not one of them having anything to do with an always online requirement. I can also say I enjoy PoE over D3 and not be a hypocrite.

          • ffordesoon says:

            False equivalency. I’m happy to give up some flexibility for zero dollars. For sixty, I want to play wherever I like.

          • Baines says:

            After having bosses warp around my traps and being disconnected near the end of a long dungeon run, I’d certainly rather have an offline only version of Path of Exile. One would think that it wouldn’t be a horribly expensive prospect, either. My guess is that the biggest developer reason against it is the real-money store. If people can play offline, then they can likely safely hack and mod the game. If they can do that, then they wouldn’t need to spend real money on the game.

            That there isn’t a console version of POE with an offline mode doesn’t free the online decision of all complaint. (Though it isn’t like an offline mode is an inalienable right of players, either.)

          • Horg says:

            ”Which is it?”

            Neither, actually. Deearhbleau 3 does always online much worse than most other games, with a significantly larger budget tan most other games, and an insultingly obvious offline console version existing in tandem. It is still common to experience packet loss and rubber banding in D£ at off peak times, with a stable fiber optic connection, even though the servers are relatively quiet. It’s coded in such a way that far too much data needs to be fetched from Blizzards servers, we assume as an anti piracy measure, so that you will always be at risk of a poor game play experience through no fault of your own. Path of Exile in comparison runs like clockwork for the vast majority of the time, and is totally free. Grinding Gear Games get away with PoE because they made sure always online didn’t cripple their game for paying customers in order to shut down some theoretical pirates.

          • malkav11 says:

            Path of Exile is:
            1) free
            2) actually an online game
            3) isn’t a sequel to a beloved game that people are still playing today and which had this problem already solved
            4) still should have an offline mode.

            It matters that it’s free because if they shut the game off the only thing of value I’ve lost is some invested time.

            It matters that it’s an online game because D3 is, despite Blizzard’s claims, blatantly not. There is no facet of the design that in any way requires online connectivity except their insistence that they would like you to play it with friends. And that certainly doesn’t require the game to be run on their servers. Path of Exile has shared towns, races, special rotating leagues, the option for groups of people to pay for their own private leagues, etc. They’re actually doing stuff with the online requirement.

            It matters that it’s not a sequel because, well, Blizzard is being blatantly hypocritical, and Grinding Gear isn’t.

            But yes, it should still be playable offline (and multiplayer should support LAN or private servers) because that is how games are preserved for posterity and the broadest range of people can enjoy the game.

      • Spoon Of Doom says:

        The thing – or rather two things – is:
        1) POE is free, and for that I’m willing to compromise in terms of always online and stuff. If it doesn’t work, nothing was lost.

        But the far more important point is:
        2) POE’s online mode actually works. With D3, even though I have a rather good and stable internet connection, I can’t count the times I’ve had the game lagging, my character and monsters warping around, even though I was playing alone. Whenever I start playing D3, the first couple of minutes are basically unplayable, because whenever I hit, cast a spell or do anything at all really, the game lags like hell. I can only speculate what’s going on there, but it feels as if instead of only running gameplay data through the server like a normal online game, D3 first has to download even the sound, textures, effects and whatnot, and only later, when all is sufficiently “cached”, does the game run fluidly. I know that’s probably not the case, but it’s the best way I can describe it. And then there’s the lag that just occurs randomly every now and then.
        The point is: Even though the game is not quite my kind of thing in other ways, I’ve encountered nothing like that in POE at all, or any other problems that could be traced to it being always online. No lag, stuttering, or whatever else there could be.
        D3′s system is not only bad for the traveling train people – it even fucks with players who actually do have a good internet connection that works just fine for other games.

  11. Mbaya says:

    “Martens: We didn’t make that game” – I was under the impression you did make that game and released it for consoles? I understand there are some differences with the titles but couldn’t they just sell a single player version of the game that is clearly labelled as such for the PC?

    While always online doesn’t bother me a great deal, honestly, I prefer to play by myself so would be more interested in a game that was tweaked for that experience.

    Nice hard hitting questions as usual Nathan, shame you didn’t get more time with them.

  12. RCoon says:

    “We didn’t make that game” should actually be “We made that game for consoles but not PC BECAUSE REASONS”

    • Seiniyta says:

      And in return the console version seems to have a lot of hacking and duping going on from what I’ve heard.

      Also, TL2′s online section is a fucking mess with all the hacking going on. It’s really obnoxious to find a game without any hacks which are easy to do because of all the modding and singleplayer characters going online and stuff.

      Although I’d love Blizzard to come up with a offline mode I can understand blizzard point of view.

      • RCoon says:

        Simple to solution to said problem which Blizzard successfully managed to do in D2. Offline characters stay offline only, online characters stay online only. This is all people are asking for, there is no downside to putting into practice what the fanbase is already aware and educated in.

        • pepperfez says:

          Unfortunately, as Blizzard knows, the fanbase is suicidally stupid and anything they think they want must be the very worst. It’s just lucky for us all that we have a big strong publisher to make sure we take our online medicine.

    • Baines says:

      “BECAUSE REASONS” is “Because we knew that console gamers wouldn’t so openly accept an always online requirement. Console gamers aren’t like PC gamers. A lot of console gamers still don’t even hook their consoles up to the internet. Look at that roasting that Microsoft took for the Xbox One. No, we’ll have to wait a few more years before we can force enough console gamers to accept always online. That glorious day will come soon, but it isn’t here yet.”

  13. reggiep says:

    For me D3 is one of those games that I have no problems joining up with randoms and playing. It’s less lonely and it works really well. Any games I play, I always make them public and let people jump into my game. I have never had a negative experience with any randoms. There’s simply no way for them to cause you strife. And often times they are generous with items and dump their stuff onto you.

    So ya, I have to agree that D3 is better when played online. And I may not have ever realized that if there was an offline mode. So good on Blizzard for making the game they wanted to make. I can respect that decision. The line has to be drawn somewhere, otherwise you can end up with things like Homer Simpson’s car.
    http://onscreencars.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/TheHomer.jpg

  14. balinor says:

    I finally registered just for this comment:

    Dear Blizzard,

    Go fuck yourselves.

  15. Viroso says:

    Please bring up what Blizzard said themselves about the game about a year ago, that people mostly played it solo
    http://us.battle.net/d3/en/blog/6923456/

    They said so themselves
    While many people are playing co-op, it’s still a minority of games. Ideally we would like players who want to play solo to be able to solo, and players who want to play co-op to play co-op. At the moment though playing solo is the clear choice, even for those who would prefer co-op with some of their friends.

    I’d like to know what they say. Probably something like “Oh but that’s changed since” which I find unlikely. It’s a shame. They have offline on PS4, how can they possibly justify not having it on PC. Reaper of Souls is looking awesome and I still believe D3 can become what D2 was. We have fond memories of D2 but we remember a game with tons of updates and an expansion.

    I won’t be making the same mistake twice and won’t support this nonsense. If they dropped offline I’d be getting Reaper of Souls on release, doesn’t look like they’re willing to admit this particular fuck up though.

  16. Tyrmot says:

    At least EA/Maxis (eventually) admitted they fucked up with Sim City and always on.

    Blizzard continue to stick fingers in ears while shouting ‘na-na-na-na-na I can’t hear you!!!’

    Really feel I got burned with D3. Definitely not making that mistake ever again, so I’m grateful to them for that at least.

  17. Evernight says:

    This frustrates me to no end. Its like this guy has never played and ARPG before! Blizzard is sitting on a rabid, loyal fanbase and literally has the template to the greatest ARPG of ALL TIME. Yet this asshat comes in and doesn’t have a clue about incentives, offline play, loot structure, random maps, etc.???? NOT EVEN THAT! It took them a YEAR to make these changes?! I have a hard time believing a company can be this DENSE.

  18. captainapocalypse says:

    Reminds me of the Microsoft PR guy who denigrated people who didn’t have high-speed Internet when the XBONE still had the always-online feature. My folks don’t have it at their place and if I were still a college kid, coming home for the holidays and summer, I’d lose access to all my games just because they live in a secluded area. Always-on is bullshit. I can deal with it for now because I have broadband, but telling people to shut up and deal with it is pretty crappy.

    • Baines says:

      Worse was when he joked about not being able to play if you were on a submarine. He either ignored or was more likely ignorant of just how many soldiers are console gamers in their off-time, including soldiers on submarines. And US soldiers did not find the joke funny (not just for submarines, but for issues any deployed troops might face with the Xbox One.)

  19. TillEulenspiegel says:

    It’s hilarious that they still won’t admit the online-only decision is all about piracy. Nope, instead all their customers are morons who are unable to understand simple features. Why can’t it even be a hidden option then? Well, um, because no.

    I could come up with better excuses than that. Just handwave some technical design issues.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Just curious here (no really, my steam backlog is huge and I can’t be arsed to manage yet another online account), has D3 been pirated succesfully? Or has the drm actually not been cracked for once.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Well, they did make showing stats a hidden option. Because guessing how much damage an attack does is so much fun.

  20. Daarck says:

    What I take from this is that Blizzard is as full of shit as the next developer and finds it hard to come out and say ‘Well, we fucked up’.

  21. mrmalodor says:

    Yeah, no. Not buying your piece of crap.

  22. Sian says:

    All I have to say to Mr Martens isn’t fit to be put in writing, mainly because he says the same to me, he just hides it behind nicer words.

  23. Surlywombat says:

    I still think its because the whole back end is basically WoW. Hell, you can see the client is based on it. Even if its just the smallest amount if shared code, they aren’t going to let people have WoW server code, which they would need to do to run locally.

    /tinfoilhat

  24. HadToLogin says:

    Can somebody tell me why In-Game-Gold Auction House is bad (but selling stuff through E-bay is OK)? I know Blizzard totally screwed it because they made whole game around it, while all they should do is make it an addon. But doesn’t Loot 2.0 fix that biggest problem with D3?

    • RCoon says:

      Because the RMAH makes Blizzard fat stacks of cash (which is why they implemented), while Ebay does not make them any money. That’s why Blizzard consider it “wrong”, because they’re not making money from it.

      • killias2 says:

        Yes, it made them so much money that Blizzard is getting rid of it.

        Wait.. what?

        • whatfruit says:

          They are getting rid of it because it broke the in game economy. The price of high level gear rose quicker than a second hand Zimbabwean car.

          The real kicker is because the RMAH doesn’t exist on the console versions, loot drops are far more useful therefore the game requires less monotonous grind.

          • Baines says:

            More than that. Blizzard redesigned loot drops for the console version, improving the quality to make up for the loss of auction houses. People had long suspected that loot drops and pacing in the PC version were designed around expected auction house usage. (Conspiracy theorists went further, speculating that Blizzard engineered drop rates and game pacing to guarantee that the RMAH saw heavy use, and thus brought more profits to Blizzard.)

    • Ich Will says:

      You just hit the nail on the head, it’s a trust issue. We don’t trust Actibliz not to treat the Auction house as a necessary part of the game and change the gameplay to force players to spend money there. Much like we don’t trust them to keep their servers up and running.

    • Moraven says:

      I think the AH should still exist with the loot changes. I would prefer to have that option to easily sell something I do not need that is powerful. Trading in D2 was cumbersome and took a lot of time.

      I think most feel the AH is a good idea, just not with how they implemented loot drops and state rolls on items.

  25. GeminiathXL says:

    Well, I for one applaud the changes. Let the haters keep hating (and they will), but for me, I will order the expansion as soon as it is available. Can’t wait.

    • Moraven says:

      And with different people in charge I expect it to be a good release.

      Now with a lot of SC2 people moving to Heroes of the Storm, hopefully they can right that ship.

  26. Longtime Listener says:

    “So my brother wants to join this game, but you realize you’re an offline character and he’s an online character, and there’s no way to transfer over because offline characters can be hacked and hex-edited to hell and back, right?”

    Clearly the only solution to the heinous crime of modding is always online DRM. I can’t remember the last time a developer came over this tone deaf of his own fan base.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Well, obviously. The convenience of a few is worth more than the playability and accessibility of the game. You ought to know that, surely.

      I have a hard time believing anything Blizzard people say these days.

  27. draglikepull says:

    If people were confused or frustrated by the inability to bring offline characters online to play with friends here’s a dirt simple way to fix that problem:

    When a player creates an offline character pop up a warning message that says “If you create an offline character you will not be able to use that character in online games with friends. Do you wish to proceed?”

    There, problem solved. That would probably take one programmer a few minutes to implement.

  28. killias2 says:

    I feel like Blizzard is making a lot of solid decisions right now. Getting rid of the Auction House is definitely solid, and the expansion overall looks like it has some great ideas. Hearthstone looks like its surprisingly good, and I have a lot of hope that Heroes of the Storm will be the game that finally brings me back to MOBA (even though I hate that bloody genre name, but whatever).

    Still, this is such a bad way to go about this. I mean, no matter what, nobody is going to accept any excuse they make up for always-on, so this kind of interview will always go bad for them. Yet, I can’t believe they haven’t reconsidered this at all, especially with the console release. I don’t think it’s as big of a deal as a lot of people, especially as lots of those same people can’t shut up about always-online Path of Exile. Still, at least they could find a better way to defend it.

  29. anotherbadname says:

    And then there is the fact that his comments about the D2 community are utter bullshit. I played the game, and quite a few others back then, and there was not a massive clamoring for the game to be “online only.”

    That concept barely existed at the time, and games that used it weren’t that popular. I do remember people disliking the divide between offline and online, but I don’t remember even one saying the solution should be to get rid of the single player version.

    Obvious, irritating lie.

  30. Oathbreaker says:

    So the offline mode on console made the game fall apart and be unplayable on console? Wait, what. These excuses are sounding more and more hollow and spin-worthy. I just want the SP HC experience that had me hooked on D2X. Preferably with the Strafe ability, but meh.

  31. Arnvidr says:

    Maybe I’ll try this game again in a few years, when the game has been expanded with expansion packs and the offline requirement has been lifted.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Probably never, then. It frustrates me, because I would like to try the game if only it would come without the online only requirement.

  32. CptPlanet says:

    Thanks for wasting half of the interview for what you knew would be vague answers.

  33. theoriginaled says:

    You cant have offline because offline characters not being able to play with online characters is about the flimsiest excuse Ive seen in a long time. Like most people (I assume) I had offline characters in D2 to play alone and online characters to play with friends… in POE I have chraracters in different leagues and play with different people… I mean.. come on.

  34. kud13 says:

    I would like to request that Blizzard put a large “If you would like to play single player without being part of a community–THIS GAME IS NOT FOR YOU” disclaimer on any game box, of web site associated with any Blizz product requiring always online.

    I think it’s only fair.

  35. promenad says:

    I’ll get the next one if they get rid of the skill respecs.

    • aliksy says:

      You’re a monster.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Are you serious? Can’t you just ignore the feature?

      • KDR_11k says:

        The game just doesn’t use a skilltree so that’s not an option. It’s loadout based, you have a certain number of slots to fill with abilities (active and passive) plus modifiers for them and changing them takes some time. You don’t get to decide what to unlock, it gives you specific skills or modifiers at specific levels (kinda like the old Call of Duty MP progression with runes replacing weapon add-ons so you get a different damage type instead of a red dot sight) and you slot them into your loadout. There’s nothing that could really count as speccing in the first place so a no-respecs rule wouldn’t work.

  36. Mercykiller101 says:

    They’re only this obnoxious because people bury them in money every time they fart a new title out. Kind of hard to not act like a prick who thinks he always knows better when all your decisions make you millions.

  37. int says:

    I see a mammoth skull!

  38. botd says:

    The irony is that the rise of Blizzard’s hubris comes at the same time that their output has fallen precipitously in quality.

    Too bad the gaming public seems willing to fork over cash for them to regurgitate games (SC2) or even fail at replicating success (D3). However, I will say that I am enjoying Hearthstone beta and I am hoping D3 xpack is great.

  39. doodadnox says:

    I am so very confused by these offline-single player advocates who scream that they can’t play the game or won’t because it requires an internet connection. If you’re morally against it, then more power to you. If you don’t have sufficient internet services or internet at all then why are you even here? Why are you not complaining about WoW, or any other MMO. Please god, someone explain to me how someone COMPLETELY out of the target market for the game are complaining. You’re right up there with people who talk shit about electric cars because they won’t be able to make it across state lines w/o charging. Just because you are “A” consumer doesn’t make you “THE” consumer.

    I’m actually OK with the “This is the game we made” statement. No matter how complicated, or how simple it would be, they have 0 obligation to make changes on their game. Those who want to play it WILL, and those who can’t WON’T. You can try to start a boycott/protest/march but good luck converting people who are enjoying the game.

    • Ich Will says:

      What about the folk who say, not scream that the sheer quantity of times they have sat down to play a single player game, only to be prevented from doing so by “Servers are down” type messages is getting galling. That input lag breaks games and is needlessly introduced when you send your mouse command on a round trip across the world. The ones who may work a full time and part time job, who only have an hour to play and find this is happening all too frequently and it’s getting worse, not better. Do they confuse you too?

      Does anyone else do the thing where when you see a post with random allcaps words, you try to see if they form a secret message:

      Wow MMO. Completely A the OK Will Won’t.

      • Presbytier says:

        Other than issues in the first month I’ve really not had any lag or severe tuber banding issues; do I have good internet, yes. I just don’t believe these problems are nearly as widespread as some think.

        • Ich Will says:

          Please note: Input lag is different to lag.

          • Presbytier says:

            I’ve experienced little to none input lag; key strikes are responsive on my end. I had some issues before updating my card, but after I got a GTX 650ti boost it runs smooth.

          • Ich Will says:

            Then your internet connection breaches the laws of physics. Maybe you have a cheap monitor and all your games suffer from it so you just don’t notice?

    • Snargelfargen says:

      Having money, an internet connection capable of downloading the game and being a big fan of D2 makes me a part of the target audience. Go figure.

      Hmm, I think maybe you have weird and wrong ideas about bad internet connections. In cases like mine, it’s poor latency and unreliable connections that are a problem. Downloading at 700kbps? No problem, but my ping is outrageous and the signal drops numerous times throughout the day.

      A lot of North America’s internet infrastructure just really sucks.

    • Cheradanine Zakalwe says:

      I live in Australia. I have 2 server options close to me. SEA, which gives me 180 ping and constant lag spikes. Or USW, that sits me on about 230 ping with occasional lag spikes.

      Its not fun playing these games under those conditions. Instead of a nice, smoooth arpg game I’m warping around the map and my control is clunky because of the delay.

      Sure, they’ve made the decision to make the game online and that’s their right. But its ruined the game for me because I can’t play it by myself at a reasonable latency without ping spikes. It annoys me and many others that an otherwise fun experience is being wholly ruined by the always online stuff that we never asked for in the first place.

    • Baines says:

      D3 is not an MMO. It is a single player game that you can also play with a small group of friends or randoms, but with the ability to buy and sell items across a larger audience. Blizzard even once admitted that the majority of D3 players were playing solo.

      Calling D3 an MMO and using that to justify requiring an always online connection is like EA calling SimCity an MMO and using that to justify requiring an always online connection.

      It isn’t about being an MMO, anyway. It isn’t about “community” and “playing with friends”. This whole issue exists because Blizzard wants consumers to accept an “always online” DRM even in styles of games that don’t really need that requirement. WOW needs an always online connection to exist as WOW. StarCraft and Di–lo do not, but Blizzard want the DRM benefits, and try to spin it in a way that consumers would accept. (For example, they don’t call it DRM. It is instead a way to prevent consumer confusion over offline and online profiles.)

  40. MattM says:

    I agree with many of the D3 criticisms but I really liked some of their design choices. I played Torchlight II and Path of Exile, and ultimately liked D3 better. I really liked the ability to use all of a classes skills and I felt a lot more mobile and active in combat.

  41. SeismicRend says:

    I feel it’s a missed opportunity to spend an exclusive interview harping on a question you already knew their answer to. I would have loved to see some questions directed to Christian Lichtner. His GDC 2012 presentation was interesting and I’d like to see where they plan to take Reaper of Souls.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      I think we all keep hoping that one of these days, their mouths will get tired of lying and they’ll just say “it’s DRM.” It’s just one of those weird things, like an itch you can’t scratch.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Companies need to be held accountable for their decisions. The always online has never really struck anyone as a good idea (or at least not well justified). There was certainly value in hearing this guy say “Fuck customers who want something different. They’ll be proven wrong in the end.” And I doubt very much that the PR person’s timing was mere coincidence.

  42. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    I played D3 on my PS3 because I haven’t had sufficient online options for several years now (hopefully that will change in the next six months). And guess what: it is the most solo-friendly ARPG I think I’ve ever encountered. Tons of story–ignore the quality of the writing–with lots of party banter, a full-blown in-game lore encyclopedia, and tons of difficulty options. At least two of those are simply not things that work in multiplayer, unless the community has suddenly become the type that will patiently wait for everyone to finish reading new lore entries and Blizz allows NPCs to tag along in multiplayer.

    They made a single player game, but they don’t want to let PC players experience it. They really are arrogant and hypocritical on this point. I’ve never heard of anyone complaining about the online/offline divide in D2. Never. You played offline if you wanted to play offline and you accepted that any offline character was going to be offline only. I’m sure there were builds specifically intended to solo the game! You played online if you wanted to be online and you accepted that that character was going to be online only.

    People don’t complain for long periods of time because they are wrong or misunderstanding the feature. They complain for long periods of time because they are experiencing a problem that hasn’t been fixed. Blizzard is wrong and D3 is not a title that will hold a place near and dear to anyone’s heart. It is a fun, polished, but wholeheartedly mercenary title that exists to serve the goals of the company.

  43. Stingray says:

    “I think what we learned about the auction house is, people used it way more than we thought they would. Trading is a valid way to get items, but we know – and we’ve decided to put our stake in the ground – that finding a monster and killing it and getting the item is the most fun way to play. Has the most lasting satisfaction.”

    Pardon me maybe it’s my English but the guy basically says that: We made auction house so successful that we needed to intervene and take it out. If that’s the case I say it’s complete bullshit since whole loot system was basically developed auction house in mind. People did not use auction house only because it was inconvenient way but because of the item generation was completely idiotic and getting good randomly generated item was almost impossible.

    I also love PR talk in general when it always sounds like they were so smart and figured all this out without community’s voice.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      We didn’t realize that the gold-and-item sellers who infest every inch of every online game ever made might suggest that people will take advantage of absolutely any and every in-game economy to the detriment of the actual players. That’s why we introduced a feature that could only warp the gameplay, even if it didn’t dominate it, but fortunately we were able to see how bad this was once it was implemented and the evidence began to mount. Don’t worry, we know what’s best!

      • Baines says:

        We realized gold-and-item sellers were a potential security risk for our valued customers. We decided to create our own auction houses that would offer the same services (with a modest cut for ourselves) to protect out valued customers. The modest cut we take from RMAH sales is for REASONS, and not us trying to exploit our valued customers.(*)

        *later*

        We never realized how much of an impact auction houses would have on how people play our game. We didn’t realize that people would use the auction houses to buy equipment instead of grinding for the drops that they wanted. But we cannot remove the auction houses at this point.

        *later*

        For the console versions, we are removing the auction houses. This means that we have redesign the loot system, as it was originally designed with the idea that people would just buy desired items from the auction house.

        (*) Entertainingly enough, both Blizzard’s cut from RMAH sales as well as the sale cap ended up driving players to dealing with sellers outside of Blizzard’s system. After all, you could sell the most desired items for higher than the cap, and you could undercut RMAH prices for less rare items and still make more than you’d make using the RMAH.

  44. Bloodoflamb says:

    “RPS: What if people don’t want to commit to a community? What if they just want to play the game?

    Martens: We didn’t make that game. That’s the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we’re not going to turn this game into that game.”

    But they DID make that game. They made it for consoles. They’re liars, and you need to call them out in interviews for lying to you. That, or you should just not bother interviewing them.

    • RandomEngy says:

      You’re getting a bit mixed up in the choices here. There are 3 qualities that are nice to have in a game like this:

      1) An environment where you can play with any other character
      2) A secure online environment (free of hacks, dupes)
      3) The option for offline play

      Obviously you want to have all three, but you just can’t. What Blizzard is saying is that they had to have #1, and they’ve done that for both versions. So the question for each platform is: Do you want a hack-free online environment, or do you want offline play? On the PC they chose #2 since it’s much easier to hack there and people expect a clean online environment from a Blizzard PC game. For consoles they didn’t have that precedent to uphold so they relaxed the security and gave the option for offline play (which is more expected for consoles).

      On the PC #2 is required, and they chose #1 over #3. They’re not lying, they’re just saying that having one common player base is more important than offline play. Maybe you disagree with that design decision but Blizzard is not lying about it.

  45. DatonKallandor says:

    Why didn’t the interviewer just straight up call the Blizzard rep on his bullshit? Is it really so hard to say
    YOU ARE LYING. JUSTIFY YOUR LIE.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      It does depend on how willing RPS is to risk losing access to any direct communication with developers. And how well said developers deal with criticism.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Considering what’s his names comment about one of the guys from D2 development was :Fuck that loser.” I think it’s safe to say that Blizzard doesn’t deal well with it.

  46. Raticus79 says:

    An important detail that wasn’t mentioned: Keeping the game online-only prevents piracy.

    If they add an offline mode, you can expect to see the game torrented in a few days. This would hurt their future expansion sales and inhibit future development, which would be bad for the game, and for that reason I’m glad they’re keeping it online-only.

    Can we expect an article about how Path of Exile is evil for being online-only as well?

    • KDR_11k says:

      The question then becomes: How many people would be stopped from buying the game because torrents are available vs how many people are not buying the game (or might decide to skip a future Blizzard game) because online-only caused so many problems? And wouldn’t pirates just pirate the console version?

    • 12inchPlasticToy says:

      Why would you pirate PoE?

    • Baines says:

      Blizzard don’t want to mention piracy. They don’t want to draw attention to the “always online” requirement acting as DRM; they want to portray the “always online” requirement as something that directly benefits players.

      Always online DRM has taken an often justified beating over the years. The sentiment was particularly strong around the period when D3 was released. Saying that you’ve denied the ability to play offline single player in a game was bad. Saying you’ve denied it in a game that was a direct sequel to a game that offered it was worse. Saying all this with a game where people would be affected negatively by online problems was PR suicide.

      So you just called your DRM something else, avoided mentioning anything about the positives of DRM (because you didn’t want anyone thinking about your new thing as DRM,) and played up any non-DRM positive that you could scrape up in an attempt to justify your “not-DRM” non-DRM existence.

      That’s how we ended up with Online Passes, non-MMO MMOs, Xbox One’s revolutionary service designed to make gaming so much easier, and the like.

  47. Arglebargle says:

    This interview makes me happier that I don’t care for Blizzard games at all. Whatever special sauce they feed their fans apparantly does not taste so good here. Even if you like those games, these guys come across as prime bozos.

  48. Presbytier says:

    The most shocking thing is that those complaining about the always online requirement somehow always manage to get online to complain about it. The only logical conclusion is they all work for Blizzard.

    • dE says:

      Tell me, how is life in a world that knows only one state for everything? Isn’t it a bit dull being governed by soloality? Well I admit, I can see it having some odd effects on life, for example, public transportation. With no state inbetween entering and exiting, travel time is instant. But isn’t that a conundrum? Because you can’t travel without a starting point and an endpoint, yet in your world you’re always there.
      Yeah, it’s probably cool that in your world there’s also only one state for everything. Food never spoils, because by law of soloality, it’s always fresh. Although how do you eat food, since it also does not have a state “eaten”? Perhaps more at hand, machines never break, that’s cool too. But power bills must be a nightmare, no? With machines always on, that’s a lot of constant power surge on the grid.
      Yet the more I think about it, your world sounds like it is stuck. There’s no progress in thought, which explains your comment. There’s also no progress of technology, because there’s no such thing as better, only such a thing as it is. Your folks can’t age, there’s no birth and no death, just being. Dear sir, are you a visitor from the end of time? And if so, did the shock of entering a world that not’s not based on soloality, not even on duality, blow your mind?

      • Presbytier says:

        I had a clever joke to reply to someone who took way to much time to overthink an obvious silly comment, but alas that would be giving in.

    • malkav11 says:

      Being able to connect to the internet long enough to post on it != being able to connect to Blizzard’s servers for the duration of an entire prospective game session. Even those of us that do have potent always on internet connections (like me, most of the time) have no control over our ability to connect to Blizzard, and it directly compromises the game experience if it’s in any way laggy, glitchy, or just plain down – I’ve definitely experienced the former more than once (on a 32+ mbps connection), and servers going down is a thing that happens on a semi-regular basis (that or some part of the connection along the way going down) in general on the internet.

      And of course, it’s far easier to communicate via asynchronous text on the internet than sustain a constant data stream.

      • Presbytier says:

        Here’s the thing some of the most popular games and some of the most popular modes in games are online only, so any argument against online only based soley on the ability to connect online is moot.

        • malkav11 says:

          What? No. That doesn’t make any sense.

          • Presbytier says:

            It makes perfect sense. No goes to on the WoW forums and whines about no offline mode because they have a lousy internet connection, because it’s already understood to play an online game requires the internet. d3 is an online game it requires an internet connection, get over it.

          • malkav11 says:

            No it fucking isn’t. I’ve played it. It is no more an online game than fucking Pong.

            But that’s completely orthogonal to your bullshit argument of just a post previous, which asserts that because there are popular online games it’s not relevant that there are people who can’t play them, which is complete and utter nonsense grasping for even the slightest hint of a point, and which in turn has no relevance to your bullshit argument of the post before that that obviously people posting about the issue have internet access and therefore can’t possibly have any grounds to complaint about a completely unnecessary online restriction for a game, ignoring the vast gulf of difference between posting text on the internet and being continuously connected to privately owned servers over which the consumer has no control whatsoever.

  49. Nicodemus Rexx says:

    Argh, I wrote a really long response to a thing and then it vanished when I hit “Send”… I’ll paraphrase here (just to see if my comments are actually working)

    Argh! Blizzard! Why u so mean to people with no internets??

    Hmmm. I can in fact reply to people… I sure hope five copies of the same response to that guy earlier in the thread don’t appear later. :|

    • malkav11 says:

      RPS apparently eats any comment with the name of the game this article is about or possibly any use of the Spanish word for devil whatsoever. I have no idea why. It makes it difficult to discuss articles like this.