Diablo IV Sparks Always Online Debate
If you’re a gamer, you’ll know that Diablo is one of the most iconic franchises in history. It has been around since the very beginning of the modern gaming era, existing long before the digital era and other things, like an online Canadian casino was even a viable concept. Though, the franchise also happens to be one of the most steeped in controversy. Lest we forget, Diablo III tried to push a real-money auction house on players, causing widespread outrage. So, with Diablo IV now in the pipeline, gamers instinctively braced for anticipated new controversy. They weren’t disappointed.
The game was officially unveiled at BlizzCon 2019, and initially there were rousing cheers and applause. However, the mood was soured when an inconsiderate spanner was thrown into the works. Lead Designer Angela Del Priore was asked if the game would support an offline mode. She responded by saying that an offline mode will not be supported, but quickly emphasised that players will still be able to enjoy the game solo.
What Is Always Online?
Before anyone gets caught up in the latest reason to be outraged at Blizzard, though to be honest, there are many valid ones, let’s first understand what exactly is going on.
‘Always online’ refers to a game that must have a permanent connection to a server in order to be played. In the case of Diablo IV, the connection will be to the nearest Blizzard server. As the game is played, information is sent back and forth, and if a connection is maintained, things will run smoothly.
In ordinary cases, this sort of connection is required if the game is focused around a multiplayer experience. Of course, information must be shared between players, so being always online makes sense. However, this requirement comes with a fairly long list of cons.
Internet connections are not always what could be referred to as stable, meaning that a connection may well be lost by any one of the players that are participating. If connection is lost, or even unstable, the game experience will be drastically impacted. Or, the game may even be rendered unplayable.
The Real Reasons
Though lest we forget, Angela Del Priore insisted that the game could be enjoyed solo. So, this is all but also declaring that the game need not be connected to a server. So why are Blizzard insisting that the game require an online connection in order to be played?
There are a few reasons. The first is that a permanent Internet connection drastically reduces the amount of piracy. This helps the company earn as much as possible on their new release, of course, which is good for them. Not so much for any players who aren’t interested in the multiplayer aspect.
Though this isn’t the only reason, according to Blizzard. They claim it also helps control things like hackers, cheaters, and other such unwanted nonsense. Of course, we need not point out again that those who were playing solo, offline, wouldn’t be very concerned about this in the first place.
Is It Really Necessary?
There is no real point in beating around the bush. No, it is in no way necessary for Diablo IV to be an always online game that does not support offline play. The reasons are simple, Blizzard wants to have full control over their title at all times, making it as difficult as possible for the software to be pirated, or otherwise, abused. It is very understandable why a company would want to do this, especially given that the game likely costs multi-millions to create.
Though, there is also no question that the requirement will drastically reduce the accessibility of the game. There are many millions of players who not only prefer not to play online, but also those who simply aren’t capable of playing online. Poor Internet connections are still common around the world, and this requirement basically makes Diablo IV inaccessible to them.
It also need not be mentioned that, should Blizzard experience problems with their servers, that those who have paid for the game will be unable to play. It is, in short, a very player unfriendly approach.
What Can You Do About It?
If you are one of those that prefers solo play, and aren’t especially impressed with the announcement, the list of things you can do about it are as follows.
You are free to try and make your voice heard, but at this point it seems very unlikely that Blizzard are going to change their mind on the situation. It is just another in a growing list of controversies surrounding the mega-corporation and arguably their most iconic franchise.
On the other hand, even getting a Diablo IV is something to be happy about at this point. Let’s not even try to imagine the possibility of the game becoming a mobile exclusive. Shudder.