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The Real Reason For No Offline Single Player in Diablo 3
By Paul Tassi, Forbes
I’ve spent the past day playing Diablo 3, and when I took to the internet to see what others were saying about the game, I found it rather hard to sort through all the anger. No one wants to talk about the content of the title itself, everyone is too busy lamenting the various error messages they’ve been subjected to during launch instead.
It’s hard to blame them really. Always-on DRM has been an annoyance for some time now, but Diablo is one of the larger titles released to ever use the system. It’s united both PC gamers and usual console players in their hatred for the requirement of an internet connection to play what is often times a single player game.
The reasoning behind always-on DRM, which requires a constant internet connection to play, has always been piracy based. There’s an idea that if the game always has to be authenticated through the publisher’s servers, pirates won’t be able to play.
Obviously, such an unrealistic idea has been proven false many times over. On games like Assassin’s Creed 2, pirates cracked the DRM in under a day, and now when the Ubisoft servers go down (again, for a single player game), the pirates are the only ones still playing. It’s further evidence that piracy is a service problem, and always-on DRM treats paying customers like the criminals, and limits their access to the game.
So is that what’s happening with Diablo 3? Does Blizzard really think always-on DRM is keeping them secure from piracy? No, that’s not the real reason the system is in place.
Blizzard risks cannibalizing itself with Diablo 3. Many World of Warcraft players will likely leave that game to make the switch to Diablo, a title without a $15 a month fee attached. That’s why Blizzard is banking hard on their new Auction House in D3 that’s supposed to be a big source of revenue for them. With it, Blizzard has essentially legalized item farming and selling for real world money, but now it’s an official system that goes through them instead of eBay. Blizzard takes a cut of each transaction, and by doing nothing at all, they have a steady source of revenue from those buying virtual items on the (no longer black) market.
But in order for this to work, there can’t be ANY chance of item duping or fake gear or any of the issues that plagued Diablo 2. In order to ensure this doesn’t happen, EVERYTHING in the game has to take place on Blizzard’s servers, as no amount of hacking should be able to produce faux items to sell in the store if everything is stored off-site. Always-on DRM is not in place for piracy’s sake, it’s for the good of the auction house.
This revelation is meant to quiet those who think that Blizzard can simply patch the game to have an offline mode if enough people complain. Those who are requesting such a thing don’t have a grasp on why Blizzard is going all-online, or how hard it would be to actually craft an “offline mode.” It’s not as simple as cutting the ethernet cord. To make a stand alone single player game that wasn’t based on the servers would practically take as much work as making an entirely new title.
This isn’t to say this is a good thing. Always-on DRM is an annoyance and should be protested. I’m not sure if Metacritic bombing or incoherent forum raging is the right means of expression, but consumers have the right to protest practices that make their gameplay experience worse. Once again, if you think this is all a naive attempt to fight piracy you’re wrong, it’s the Auction House that’s to blame. Only time will tell if Blizzard’s preventative measures will actually prevent scamming there.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/ ... n-diablo-3
TL;DR? The reason is that Blizzard needs the constant online connection to work Diablo 3's auction houses that trade in real world money. Severing the online connection would mean losing out on scamming millions of ignorant nerds out of their hard earned money. And we can't have that now can we?
I disagree however with the author's assertion that it would be difficult to undo. It would actually be very simple. Simply remove the auction houses all together.