When the online requirement of Diablo 3 was announced, I defended it to my friends:
“It should protect against cheating and piracy”, I argued, “Things that we can all agree are wrong and ruin the gaming experience.”
“But what about when your internet connection is crap, or when you can’t connect?” They countered.
“I’m sure Blizzard have provisioned something for offline play, like in Starcraft II. I also believe the bandwidth use is minimal.”
We are now over a month into the life of Diablo 3 and it appears that my naivety took the better of me. You see, whilst Blizzard make games that are fun, they are now beholden to the Real Money Auction House, who is calling the shots.
Consider the latest change:
As of patch 1.0.3, when purchasing a digital version of Diablo III through the online store or your Battle.net Account, players are restricted to the Starter Edition for the first 72 hours (sometimes less). Players on Starter Editions have the following restrictions:
- Act I up to the Skeleton King is available
- Level 13 cap
- Matchmaking available only with other Starter Edition players
- No Auction House access (Real Money or Gold)
- Global Play is not available. Players attempting to connect to Diablo III Starter Edition in a region other than their Battle.net Account’s home region will receive Error 12. See the Global Play support article for more information.
Here we have a clear example of a limitation which negatively impacts real players in order to protect the real money auction house from individuals/businesses that would exploit it.
Indeed the unholy combination of poor drop rates on the best gear, an Inferno difficulty level which necessitates said gear and a real money auction house which enables anyone to buy or sell it for hard cash all results in a truly attractive market, particularly when you consider that the core gameplay (spam left mouse, right mouse, 1234) is easy enough for any bot to undertake.
The latest change is the straw that broke the camel’s back. On launch day, I passed the Skeleton King in about 2 hours or so. You’re seriously telling me that I would now have to wait 72 hours to progress?