Overburdened with Fail: Diablo 3 Is Online-Only

It’s a Blizzard theme day, apparently. Earlier we showed you the seven-minute preview video of Diablo III gameplay. Epic, amirite? But wait, there’s more. Because, hey, we’ve only been waiting a decade.

Diablo III, the long-awaited, many-fabled unicorn of point-and-click RPGs, that same super awesome game you witnessed earlier here on Geeks Are Sexy, can only be played online. Even in single player, even if you’re not buying or selling in-game items for cold hard cash. Even if your grandma, who was 15 when Diablo II came out, really wants to play but doesn’t have wifi. Not even then, says Blizzard.

Senior producer Alex Mayberry says there were many reasons for the decision, including the prevention of cheating. Since players can buy and sell items for real money, any way of cheating to make or acquire better ones would be very lucrative – and unfair.

“It’s the trend that we’ve been moving towards,” Alex says. “Obviously StarCraft 2 did it, WoW authenticates also. It’s kind of the way things are, these days. The world of gaming is not the same as it was when Diablo 2 came out.”

If you’re thinking, “But, hey, why not make an offline mode, or offer online multiplayer as an option rather than the requisite,” the answer is simple, according to executive producer, Rob Pardo: If you start playing a character offline and — completely hypothetical here and not at all based on my favorite Diablo II character, Mongol — maybe you’re a Level-71 Barbarian with max Insane Courage and some wicked sweet resistances, and you decide after all this time that you’d really like to show him off to the other guys (and ladies) on Battle.net. Well, you’d be sad because you can’t, and so to keep you from being sad, Blizzard just isn’t going to let you play off-Battle.net at all. Problem solved!

“[Y]ou’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.”

“Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t play a game by yourself – of course you can. You can go into and start any game that you want, you’ll just be connected to the Battle.net servers, and we can authenticate your character.”

Clearly this is less about maintaining offline and online character continuity and entirely about trying to prevent piracy. Which is fine, I can respect that since pretty much any computer-owner can get StarCraft 2 for free. But the easier (and certainly more popular) solution is simply to disallow characters built and played in the traditional game client to be imported to Battle.net. That solves the problem of bringing in any cheat-enhanced characters and still offers the average geek the convenience of playing a game–for which they paid–anyplace they want.

[PC Gamer via Dvice]


71 Responses to Overburdened with Fail: Diablo 3 Is Online-Only

  1. Boohoo! I can't play offline. Now I'm going to boycott because I'm such crybaby bitch. Seriously, if you don't have internet then you shouldn't be playing video games in the first place. FFS places like McDonalds offer free wifi, it's really not that big of a deal. So pull up your diaper and get over it.

    • =rolls eyes= If we didn't have Internet, we wouldn't hear you yammer on, would we? I don't play games online – never have never well. Why? I'm not interested. I don't want to compete against a million twits, and neither do a lot of other people. So if the game is online only, they're going to lose players.

      • So, who's telling you that you HAVE to compete against a million other 'twits'? It's been confirmed for a long time that PvM and PvP are completely separate modes and will have nothing to with each other. There's nothing keeping you from playing by yourself if that's what you desire. The purpose of being connected to the battle.net server is to authenticate your character.

        That being said, I look forward to the release of this game, online-only or not.

        • No, Maybe read into the question more, What it says (Wired wizard) That, They want to play alone and be alone no bots, no one bugging them about PM's. Nothing, Its just them and the game no markets or anything. just like how diablo 2 was way back when, Single player was just you and killing mobs.

    • First, not everyone has reliable internet at home. Some people, particularly those in rural areas, may have limited connectivity. The connection may be intermittent, which really ruins the game. Just completed a quest, or nabbed an awesome item when you get dropped? Tough.

      Second, even if your connectivity is reliable (from a standpoint of you rarely losing the connection from your home to your ISP), the latency may suck. Look up the difference between 'throughput' or 'bandwidth' (effectively the same thing, though technically not) and 'latency' if this point confuses you. High latency leads to horrible ping tmes, which equates to bad lag. Playing on wifi if you live in an apartment (particularly in densely-populated urban areas) can likewise affect your connectivity and/or latency. Your connection to your ISP may be great, but wireless signals are notoriously susceptible to interference, and if you lose connection to your access point, it's the same as having crappy connectivity from your ISP. Even if you use a wired connection rather than wifi, and don't live out in the boonies, your ISP may still have oversold their service. If an ISP does traffic shaping (many do), which packets do you think are going to be prioritized: the packets from the guy playing D3, or the voice packets from the guy paying for that ISP's VOIP service?

      Want an idea of just how annoying this can be? Picture this. Ever try to cube up a stash full of gems on b.net when your ping is hovering around 1k, so the game doesn't register that you clicked something until a second or so later? Ever get a bad case of 'whiffing' with skills like Zeal or Fend, because the server thinks the monsters are halfway across the screen, even though they're adjacent to you client-side? Ever try to avoid attacks with fancy footwork, dodging out of range but get hit anyways, because (haha, joke's on you) the server thinks the monsters are elsewhere than they appear for you? Ever have the game drop you because your ping gets too bad, meaning you suffer just as though your connection was intermittent, even though it's not?

      Ever lose your high-level hardcore character to lag death? Ever have your account with multiple high-level characters deleted, because you take a break from the game, and Blizzard can't spare the 20 or so kilobytes of disk space to store an account full of characters? To put that last one into perspective, check out your D2 save directory. You'll find that the .D2S files are 2-3 kilobytes in size; these are all that are saved server-side; the map and key config data is saved client-side, even for realm characters. Figure an average of 2.5k per character, at eight characters per account (this was how it was last I played on b.net), that's 20k per account. Imagine 20 million accounts, and that's roughly 400 megabytes of data that Bliz needs to store. It's not like they're gonna run out of room on their servers, yet they'll delete all your shit if you don't log in for a few months.

      These are the kinds of 'features' that we will all have to look forward to if Bliz insists on making it online-only. Why they couldn't have opted for the open character/closed realm character model that worked so well in D2 I have no idea. The best argument I have heard is that allowing an offline mode of any kind will allow people to disassemble the client-side code to see how items are generated, and then (this is where the argument fails in epic fashion) magically exploit that to generate items server-side.

      As for your argument about using public wifi at McDonald's or other such places, that's such a lame argument I wouldn't normally address it. However, since I've seen it numerous times on the interwebz, I'm going to rebut it. First, if you have ever used public wifi, particularly in a busy location where everyone's got their laptops, smartphones, or tablets (the latter two of which they use wifi to avoid data overage charges on their cell plans), you will know the latency leaves a lot to be desired. If you think it's sufficiently low for playing any online games more demanding than Farmville, pull your head out of your ass and think again. Second, and more importantly, most free wifi only allows web access. That is, they block most of the ports, and only allow TCP (not UDP) packets. This means that, outside of browser games, you won't be able to use the wifi for any online games. It won't just be a laggy connection, it will be _no connection at all_. Zip. Zero.

      Of course, with all that said, I guess we're still just a bunch of crybaby bitches, huh?

    • Whups. When I said '400 megabytes', I meant '400 gigabytes'. Still, in a day when my ancient netbook's got a 500gig drive in it, I doubt that amount of storage is a problem for Bliz's huge server farms.

  2. Ok, they can officially take this game & shove it. I'll stick to Diablo II until they get their heads screwed on right.

    • yep stick to a game from 10 years ago… enjoy mate! have fun! have fun while we are enjoying the new game with millions of others and sharing the same joyful experience online =) =) =)

  3. this really is a non-issue to me… who doesn't have internet at home, where they will be playing this game? seriously am i missing something? why is this such an issue… I will still be buying and playing D3

    • Because the internet is a fickle bitch… so your internet connection at home gets disrupted for some reason (like you have Comcast or RCN which means that it will be down at least 1 day a week), so right in the middle of an epic dungeon where you are about to kill a main baddie and complete a quest… *Bomf* there goes your internet, and the sweet victory that you were about to achieve and you'll have to wait until the internet is back up again before you can play

    • I'll tell you why. Diablo II had single-player and multi-player, and it was a non-issue. No hacks or mods penetrated battle.net with a single-player component. So the issue here is: why do away with single-player component in the first place? I love Diablo II battle.net, yet sometimes I want to physically separate myself from a huge economy where items can be easily traded. So I create a single-player character, where I get a sense of surviving and "living-off-the land," where the only armor and weapons I got are the ones I found. Its pretty cool. If Blizzard has failed to realize this dynamic that can be found in single-player, then they have severely lost touch with the fundamentals of hack-n-slash.

  4. i only have internet access when i am at my boyfriends house, because of this i will no longer be purchasing this game. Period. If i decide to spend the money on this game (which games are not cheap) i should be able to play where ever i would like, with or without internet access.
    I'll stick to D2.

  5. Not surprised, and I really don't mind. Blizzard knows that the "We won't buy it because we want offline play!" crowd isn't huge, and most of them will buy it anyway, just like with Starcraft II.

    • This pretty much covers it. People can whine and complain about it as much as they want, come release, 50% or more of the complainers (being a minority already) will buy it regardless of previous statements. Preventing cheating and, more importantly, piracy (ignoring private servers like those for WoW, they cover very few people compared to paying customers), means Blizzard will get insane amounts of revenue, meaning more awesome expansions and new games.

      And hell yeah, I'll be buying it like everyone else. More games for my battle.net account ^_^

  6. I have been looking forward to this game for so long only to be let down by this. I'll just keep on playing Diablo II. I don't like being forced to play with others. Should be given the option to play on or offline. Why must they make everything into a freaking WOW clone now.

    • I'm pretty sure there is a SINGLE PLAYER option that you can play and I think that you can still play multiplayer with people YOU want only yet.

      The only difference is that now you will have to be logged in Battle.NET instead of being offline, not that you will be forced to play with who you don't want to – at least that's what I got from every posts I ever read about it.

    • But as for a constructive comment, I will say it is a better disappointing that even single player requires an internet connection. Sometimes I just don't want to be on the internet- I know it sounds weird, but being online ALL the time bothers me. But I will probably still play D3, mostly because I"ve been waiting forever for it to come out and I love the games. I just won't buy it right away.

  7. At first when I read this and even before when I read only assumptions that Diablo III would be Battle.NET only I thought it would suck and that players should stop supporting Blizzard for Diablo III.

    Now after a few months and this very post I just saw that it is whatever and that its even better. I know that people will end up cheating after all but at least it will not be the most of players (I deeply hope that) because Blizzard will be watching out – tho I admit that it was useful to use Hero Editor to test possible builds eventually.

    But I hardly believe that one that bought Diablo III will not have internet where one goes mostly. The only place I don't have internet access is at my girlfriend's home because I didn't buy her a wireless router and come on, its not like I'm going to buy one.

    Any other places I have internet access, be it my house or university or even at most restaurants and pubs. And if sometimes you run out of internet access, try to do something else in real life for fu**ing sake, there is a world after the monitor fellows.

    Sorry for such a long post but people just keep whining about it and it doesn't sound like a big deal for me, if it were like 8 years ago, but it.. IT ISN'T :)

    • You must have a stable internet connection. All the companies around here have fickle connections. I'm lucky to have a week go by without a dc.

      It'd be nice to, you know, be able to play single player mode while its down without having to drive 10 minutes to sit in a douchemagnet coffee shop that gives you a table 1/2 the size of a 2×4.

  8. i don't understand why this is such a huge deal. if you all have internet to complain about d3 being online-only, then don't you also, therefore, have internet to play d3? and those of you complaining about not wanting to play with random people online, DON'T. you can play single-player as well. to be honest, i don't enjoy playing d2 on battle.net with anyone other than my real-life friends because everyone cheats! it's ridiculous. i think this is a step in the right direction for blizzard and i say kudos to them! <3

    • The issue is the quality of our nationwide network. Get outside the cities and it's spotty on coverage and steady connection, and you've usually got state or city granted 'monopolies' in that you've got a choice between internet provider A that's down every Monday and whenever it gets about 80 degrees or internet provider B, that's up all the time, but you get a blazing speed of 1mbs. It'd be far less an issue if we had network saturation like Japan, where the average connection speed is 60+mbs per household.

    • This is a huge deal because why should I use my bandwidth to play D3 in solo mode??? Yes I have a bandwidth cap and playing online games eats into it pretty big. This is NOT a step in the right direction, not until bandwidth caps are aboloished, 100 percent reliable internet is available for all and my other peeve. Blizzard stops having so much server downtime. 8 hours a week not being able to play is stupid. Oh and enjoy the lag first week or so trying to play single player.

      You see, there ARE a lot of issues against this.

      • So the complaint should be against the cable compines tht provide the internet service. It is not Blizzards fault your cable has a cap, or that the internet goes out once a week. If my provider went down that often I would be on the phone with them all the time. I would rather have an online only mode where I can play solo if I choose to then to deal with all the cheaters out there.

        • News flash: if you're playing offline single player, you don't have to deal with anyone, cheaters or otherwise!

          I'm sick of the argument that 'it will prevent cheating'. I'm sure open b.net was crawling with hacks, dupes, and all sorts of messed-up shit, but the realms weren't exactly clean either. I remember the heyday of hex charms, white rings, occy rings, and other such abominations. Guess where this was? Yup, that's right- it was on the b.net closed realms, where characters were stored on Blizzard's servers rather than client-side, and were thereby 100% secure against abuse, just like the D3 character data is going to be. Pffbt.

          For the record, since I gave up b.net play, limiting any MP action to TCP/IP games with people I trust, guess how many times I had issues with other players subjecting me to that kind of crap? Here's a hint: less than one time.

  9. Honestly it's lame choice on blizzards part. I'm still gonna buy it and I will love it but it's still annoying. If my ISP goes down (we cable quite a bit out where I am due to the amount of storms and trees) I want to be able to play the game I've paid money for.

    SC2 was the right way to do it, just have an offline mode with no achievements that cannot be imported to the b.net and therefore not use the auction house and other such features at all. This wouldn't be a huge issue as many people playing Diablo 2 had ladder characters and single player characters.

    So far as piracy is concerned I'm okay with anything game companies want to do that doesn't hurt the consumer. This does. The pirates will find a way to make this game run in single player so don't force your paying customers to have a pirated and copy on their computers in addition to the legit version so they can play without the internet.

    Still there is time for them to change their mind and implement a offline only single player mode so I'm hoping they'll do that.

  10. As a desktop gamer, this spectacularly fails to bother me. Any time my internet connection is down isn't spent gaming, it's spent fixing my internet connection.

  11. Being forced to keep a single-player savegame in on the publisher's servers or elsewhere in the (damned) Cloud is like buying a car and being forced to only park it on the dealer's lot.

    • how is it like that? if you parked your car at the dealer's lot, i'm assuming you'd need to walk or take a bus/taxi for a 15 minute ride to get there to get your car. the only way this is similar is if you are using dial-up and needing to wait 15 minutes for your computer to connect. if that's the case, you should probably upgrade.

  12. Pfft, this has already happened, just look at games like Assassin's Creed, The Settlers and Spore.
    People just pirated the games so they could play offline. As such, I guarantee that many people will do the same…. Blizzard is just shooting themselves in the foot

  13. Heres what we do, Boycott Blizzard and D3. Torchlight 2!!! Comming out this year with and can be modded to have bigger maps and more awesomeness and IT DOESN'T REQUIRE ONLINE SINGLE PLAYER PLAY TIME!

  14. It is pretty stupid, But mainly because it would be so easy to offer an offline mode. And what game doesnt have that option these days? My parents are constantly turning my router in the evening. So what am I suppose to do till the next? And you CAN'T play WoW single player. Even if your PvE, It's impossible when you can see and interact with the other players. I tried playing it with no one else and just got bombared with people /w me and trying to get me to join their guild.

    Mreh, I'll just stick to playing D2 and getting Skyrim for PC when its out :D

  15. I'm not really fussed about this, except for the fact that battle.net can be so damned buggy… if we get kicked off the server (or can't get on in the first place!) with Diablo II at least we can go play our offline characters for a while… if they're going to do this they need to do a lot of fixing up with battle.net :/

  16. This isn't going to stop me playing D3 but let's be frank here (well I'm Mark but you can be Frank) this is less to do with stopping cheaters and more to do with encouraging more real cash spending on the new AH. If you were offline playing in single player mode you coudln't possible be tempted by all the shiny epics. Lets face it this is a big cash win for Blizzard (who collect a 'small' fee for some of the transactions and all the powerlevelling services who can now use bots to grind items and sell them for real cash legitimately.

    This is a portotype, if successfull expect to see much more in Titan.

  17. Do they seriously intend to prevent piracy with this? It’ll be circumvented the day of release. All this does is screw over legitimate customers who would like to actually play the game they paid for. And no, in America, high-speed internet isn’t universal and provided with reliability to all citizens, so this is indeed an issue. They could at least release an offline-only version of the game, and it would cost next to nothing to do so while at the same time appeasing the crowd of online nay-sayers and removing one more reason to pirate.

  18. Yup they’ve been making this game for over a decade and yet nothing seems new nothing seems impressive even the graphics looks lackluster. And to break which was not broken by taking away the very core of what the game was …LAN play. So now the game is nothing more than a glorified mmorpg, I bet it will even get featured on mmohut.com. And what about the items that can be bought with real money? Greedy much? This is like a free to play game with cash shop items.
    And about the cheaters that diablo 2 had? So what I never played with them because I had the choice. Never was a problem.
    And theres not even many classes, WHAT DID YOU GUYS DO FOR OVER A DECADE!?
    This is a epic disappointment and I and many people I know will not be buying this game.
    Biggest let down in pc gameing history thanks blizzard thanks for taking a perfectly fine game and shitting on it.
    Torchlight 2 FTW all the way

  19. I seriously doubt they've been working on D3 for a decade. People seem to forget all the projects they've worked on and got scrapped in-between. Warcraft Adventures and Ghost, ring any bells? Both games I would have loved to play, both games that were announced and shown.

    Not to mention the fact that, yes, maybe a few people enjoyed the game playing alone or on a LAN with some friends. But the majority of players was online, playing with people from other countries. So this doesn't change anything for them.

    I agree on the basis that this is a bit odd, but it's a fact that if the game IS good enough. People will buy it.

  20. I've been suffering with this through the Heroes VI beta. The server has been unavailable and now I can't get to any of my saved games. While I think they are changing this in the actual release, it SUCKS to not have access to your game when you can't connect. Which isn't always your fault.

    I'm no longer the target audience. I have kids and a wife and a job that require my attention. So when I get some time to play, I want to play, not have to figure out why the connection to the server won't let me through.

    That said, I'll probably buy it. But I'm more likely to wait on it now. Not that Blizzard ever drops their prices.

  21. Why don't you go lick blizzard's ahole some more you brown nose little shit. You have no idea what you are talking about. Wow is a online mmorpg not a singleplayer game with multiplayer capabilities there is a big difference. And just because some people have fast internet doesn't mean everyone does. It sure as hell doesn't mean that people are living under a rock people just don't WANT to be confined and forced to do shit by a game that never had that mechanic.
    Go become a slave you obviously have the right mindset for it.

  22. For anyone crying about having to play with others, you can play Diablo II online by yourself and you'll be able to play this online by yourself. Stop crying.

  23. Not happy about this. But mostly annoyed by the fact that I have been waiting for so long this game and it looks really crappy. Not what I was expecting.

    Perhaps I will buy it if there's good reviews after the release, but I bet my money on Skyrim and ME3..

  24. Yes this is a disappointment, I would have liked to have played the game when I'm away with work (a hell hole with no internet connection, or phone signal for that matter). And it will limit some people as in the UK there are some areas when you just can't get broadband. Do I think there should be an offline option, yes, will they change it because people are bitching? no!

    In all honesty, aside from these few people unable to get acceptable internet connections (and no gamer would buy a house in one of these areas anyway). 99% of people will buy it anyway, I will be one of them.

    People should grow up and stop moaning about having to sign into battle.net before playing the game.

  25. All the people moaning about the people moaning about having to play online for single player will be moaning themselves when Battle.net hangs/goes down/has a software update which screws everything up or when their account gets hacked.

    As I said earlier this has little to do with preventing piracy. If you read the full press release D3 will include an online auction house which you can buy and sell items and even characters for REAL cash. Blizard will take a fee for some of these transacations. THAT is what this is all about. You can hardly be tempted to buy things if you are offline and do not see them now can you!

  26. Didn't we hear these complaints when SCII came out? And then exactly no one ended up not buying the game because of it.

    And anyone who has enough time to spend playing D3 will be able to find Internet access *somewhere*, even if it's sitting at the local McDonalds.

  27. What's annoying about this is that I usually play games only when my internet is buggy or down. Now I wouldn't be able to play D3 unless I'm online, but if I'm online I'd rather be surfing. >_<;;;

  28. I didn't like the SC2 changes and I didn't buy it and I sure as hell don't like the D3 changes and I highly doubt I will buy it either. What people seem to be ignoring is that the piracy/cheating issue is (for the most part) just corporate propaganda. If I were to get banned for something I said on the B-net forums for posting something Blizz didn't like, or I bought some gold on WoW and got banned, how is that going to affect me playing D3? This does seem to be the direction that games are headed nowadays and it's all about them having exclusive control over whatever you do with the game that you paid (probably) about 50$+ for. Blizzard used to be about the players and from that, the profits came. Now, they expect people to bend over for them as they are now, not for the company they used to be.

  29. This stuff makes me so sad. I used to be really into computer games but this DMR stuff is killing me.For instance, Steam won't update, so I can't play my $60 game. I can't afford to waste money on games I can't play.
    Not to mention the industry is slapping the sacks of it's customers. Very rude.

    • In Addendum,
      And forget about the cheating/piracy excuse. Developers just want to cut out the retailers since they only end up getting about $7 out of every $50 through the traditional method of sale. One of the ways to do that is to push online games. No CD and internet connection required to play means you are always in their market.

  30. It seems to me that the overwhelming success of WoW has gone over to Activision's head. Yes, I said Activision, because the Blizzard we used to grow up with and adore is no more.

    The absence of LAN is a no-sale for me. LAN was what made Diablo 1 and 2 great.

    I am ambivalent about the mandatory Internet connection. It may help to curb botters and cheaters, but some folks may have dodgy or no Internet connection, so there are pros and cons.

    One more no-sale factor: D3's real money micro-transaction item mall. Making a dungeon crawler like a MMO? That is just plain nonsense.

    So that's it, you won't see me in D3, just like you don't see me in SC2. I have my principles.
    Rather than be bitter about it, I'll just move on to other games. Many good games are about to be released. I know what to give my money for.

    May you enjoy what you're playing, minus me, this drop from the D3 ocean.


  31. The move to make Diablo 3 multiplayer only is really… An Act of Desperation from the money-grubbing corporate monsters of Blizzard/Activsion because they feel they do not make enough money from their players. It's the sign of the times, it's like Diablo climbed up into the real world, became CEO of the New Blizzard company, and only wants to exploit the die-hard gun-ho World of Warcraft players who are screaming for a new game, but wants every game to be just like World of Warcraft. And casual gamers, or players who are forced to put up with Comcast, because Comcast has monopolies in various regions of the country, will not be able to play because Comcast does not care that their servers are UNSTABLE!

    Blizzard does not want to hear it that Comcast's subscribers are stuck with faulty servers, and the more people who mention this, the angrier Bizzard and their WoW buddies become. They are blind and deaf to over 50,000,000 Comcast users who have no choice but to suffer, or have no cable internet access at all.

  32. Yah agree with allot of this post here

    1 – online need
    2 – No attribution points or skill points
    3 – a wow game or more a warcraft game not diablo
    4 – Online buying stuff
    5 – No cheats no hacks that creat allot off fun just to mess up some games for your self or testing skills enc..
    6 – Archivements ? < why because i can show off ?

    and the list is almost done. Lets keep it this way. No diablo 3 will not in my house till there is a torrent or a offline crack i dont play online games its noobish and stupid to compare my skills to a 7 years old fat kid no thanks.

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