Mike Morhaime, Blizzard co-founder, released a statement recently in response to the concerns raised by Diablo III players since the game’s launch. He made comment on the game’s “always online” requirement and noted it as a form of DRM. Many players have suspected that having to be connected to the internet to play Diablo III was a form of DRM all along, and Morhaime has now given evidence to support that.
“One other common topic we’ve seen in the forums is the always-connected experience, and the perception that the online requirement is nothing but an ineffective form of copy protection that has already been cracked,” he said. “While we’ve never said that this requirement guarantees that there will be no cheating or game cracks, it does help us battle those problems (we have not found any fully functional cracks).”
This explains that from the game’s launch Blizzard intended the “always online” portion of the game, which they claimed was solely for multiplayer and the Real Money Auction House, has been a set-in form of DRM. This would be the way that the developer is battling online piracy, hacking, and other malicious acts being brought on to the game. In this same statement, however, Morhaime says that the system still improves the game for the player.
“Diablo III was designed from the beginning to be an online game that can be enjoyed with friends, and the always-online requirement is the best way for us to support that design. The effectiveness of the online elements — including the friends list and cross-game communication; co-op matchmaking; persistent characters that you can use by yourself, with others, and in PvP; and some of our customer support, service, and security components — is tied directly to the online nature of the game.
These and other online-enabled features are essential to our design for Diablo III. That said, there are still improvements we believe we can make to expand the online experience and make co-op play even more rewarding, and this will remain one of our priorities moving forward. Overall, while there are some downsides to the online-only approach, I still believe this was the best long-term decision for the game.”
I hopped on the DRM bandwagon before Diablo III released, and I still feel that way now. Taking a game that players have enjoyed for years and shifting it to “always online” was a mistake. Don’t get me wrong. I love being able to play the game online with my friends. I just wish that it was a toggle option. I could choose whether I wanted an online game or to play offline when I’m somewhere that doesn’t have Wi-Fi or something. No matter what Blizzard tries to say about the game’s system, it’ll still be DRM to me.