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The (In)Convenient Truth Of Diablo III's Global Play

I have bathed in the blood of thousands of The Devil's minions, but a pleasant vacation to the English countryside? That's beyond even the scope of my powers.

On paper, Diablo III’s newly announced Global Play Internet voodoo sounds like a heavenly buff to my wanderings through Blizzard’s hell-born hack ‘n’ slash. In a nutshell, it allows players to hop into a game with anyone in any region (though, admittedly, with some soon-to-be-discussed caveats). I am, after all, on the other side of the pond from the RPS stratospheric sky mansion’s continent-shaped docking bay, so having full access to every region’s servers lets me bond with everyone else through mutual dislike/punching of The Devil. That said, you can only interact with your home region’s real money auction house, which may come as a disappointment to the rather sizeable portion of our readerbase composed of multi-national gold-farming tycoons. So those are the upsides. Now for the rather head-scratching bits.

Here’s the problem: “characters, items, and friends lists” are incapable of making the jump between regions. So, if you have friends in more than one of the three regions (the Americas, Europe, and Asia), you’ll have to essentially bounce back-and-forth between separate accounts. If each real money auction house was open to all unwashed masses regardless of where their dirt came from, that’d make sense, but Blizzard’s already got a system in place to curb the massive amounts of overcrowding and inflation that’d result from that. And hey, just as a fun refresher, remember this part from Blizzard’s vehement justification of the always online requirement?

“One of the things that we felt was really important 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 now we just have to start from scratch slightly less often than before. Ultimately, it all strikes me as inconvenience without an immediately apparent rhyme or reason. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it’s still a rocket-powered leap over StarCraft II, whose region-locking – while improved since launch – has been a constantly baffling cause of player headaches. Even so, I’ve asked Blizzard for whys and wherefores.

Meanwhile, Blizzard’s also posted a lengthy guide for the auction house, which reveals a variable transaction fee for every real-money-based piece of equipment sold in addition to a 15 percent fee any time you want to “cash out” with a service like PayPal. So that’s all wonderfully complicated. Me, I plan on click-click-clicking on monsters – not menus. Hopefully the meat of my experience remains untainted, even if the fat seems to be festering a bit.

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Nathan Grayson

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