Previews of Diablo 3 released earlier this week revealed that the upcoming action-RPG PC game will require a constant Internet connection even when playing the single-player campaign. While the news isn't unexpected, it means that gamers won't be able to hack their way through dungeons on their laptops while the home network is down or if they're on the road where connections aren't available.
According to prior reports, this Internet requirement possibly serves as a means to curb piracy. But it also prevents the user from having to generate a separate character -- a separate "path" --in order to play multiplayer games on Battle.net.
"We thought about this quite a bit," said executive producer Rob Pardo earlier this week. "One of the things that we felt was really import was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto Battle.net. But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online."
Senior producer Alex Mayberry told MTV that gamers can play by themselves, but the characters are stored on Blizzard's Battle.net servers. "You have to authenticate through our servers to be able to play the game," he said. "I think it's not just 'Diablo 3' but with our games as a whole we're tying everything into Battle.net these days...We can provide a much a much more stable, connected, safer experience than we could if we let people play off-line."
In addition to the player character aspect, the single-player mode will have Battle.net elements including a persistent friends list, cross-game chat via the RealID system, player versus player and more. These require a constant Internet connection obviously.
But despite the reasons behind the always-connected requirements, fans are not happy with the decision. MTV uses this posting on Reddit as an example which has more than 2,700 comments, most of which express their distaste for the always-connected requirement.
"I'm actually kind of surprised in terms of there even being a question in today's age around online play and the requirement around that," said Blizzard's vice president of online technologies Robert Bridenbecker. "We've been doing online gameplay for 15 years now…and with 'World of WarCraft' and our roots in Battle.net and now with 'Diablo 3,' it really is just the nature of how things are going, the nature of the industry. When you look at everything you get by having that persistent connection on the servers, you cannot ignore the power and the draw of that."
He went on to add that piracy and DRM really weren't a topic of conversation when discussing how the team wanted the connection to operate. Instead, they focused on the feature-set and storing the player character in the cloud.
"You're guaranteeing that there are no hacks, no dupes," he said. "All of these things were points of discussion, but the whole copy protection, piracy thing, that's not really entering into why we want to do it. I'm a huge purveyor of online sites and from my standpoint, I don't look at DRM solutions and go, 'Wow, those are awesome.' I look at those and say, 'Wow, those kind of suck.' But if there's a compelling reason for you to have that online connectivity that enhances the gameplay, that doesn't suck. That's awesome."
He also offered other explanations such as eliminating the need to have a separate offline and online path. To find out more, head here.