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When Blizzard opened up the Diablo III beta to anyone with a Battle.net account, I knew that I was in for a click infused frenzy that would push my mouse to the extreme. I didn’t know that this would apply to the log in screen.
Because of Diablo III’s DRM, the game requires a constant internet connection in order to play, even for the single player campaign. The problem with this type of DRM, is that it’s a two way street; I need a constant internet connection, and Blizzard’s servers need to always be up.
I've played World of Warcraft (as well as other MMORPGs) on and off for the past few years. I was there for the launch of both the Wrath of the Lich King and Cataclysm expansions. I had nothing but server and connection issues during the first week of those expansions.
While it may seem a bit silly to compare Diablo III to MMOs, the way Blizzard implements the DRM, Diablo III has essentially become an MMO. You have to log in (even for single player), your character is stored on Blizzard's servers, and you need to have a good internet connection.
Unfortunately, Blizzard’s servers were not always up.
When I finally got to play, Diablo III turned out to be the superlative click-fest that I hoped it would be. Playing as a monk, I clicked-it-‘till-it-died with lightning infused punches and drop kicks. Everything was all fun and evil, until I ran into two skeletons.
There wasn’t anything special about these skeletons, but when I clicked on them, nothing happened. Thinking my PC froze, I started randomly clicking around the screen, and then I noticed that my monk was appearing in the places I clicked without really moving. I was experiencing lag.
I understand that the Diablo III beta was a stress test, and I understand its purpose, but a single player campaign should not need a stress test. Sure, co-op is drop-in/drop out, and you can make real money on the auction house, but now the game can’t be modded, and there is lag in the single player campaign. Always on DRM has always been abhorent and intrusive, and Blizzard is taking it to a new low. While playing Diablo III, any concurrent downloads or streaming music/video could potentially disrupt the single player campaign because they would drop my internet speed.
While Blizzard touts a laundry list of features as justification as to why the game needs to always be online, they seem to forget all of the problems associated with online games. While it was only a beta, lag and server issues are a fact of life for MMOs. Servers need maintenance and something always goes wrong requiring Blizzard to take them offline for hours at a time (this comes from my WoW experience), and there is no way to completely eliminate lag. If Blizzard is going to treat Diablo III like an MMO, then it is subject to all of the limitations of MMOs. Since I'm primarily interested in the single-player aspect, I will not pay $60 for a game that is at the mercy of Blizzard's server capacitites.
Diablo III is fun to play, but when I pay $60 for a game, the least I expect it to do is start up. Unfortunately, Diablo III doesn’t always seem to be able to do this.