Robert Bridenbecker, Blizzard’s VP of online technologies, has said he’s “surprised” by the reaction of Diablo fans over the always online requirement to play Diablo 3.
Speaking with MTV, Bridenbecker said the requirement has nothing to do with piracy, like with Capcom and Ubisoft’s always online DRM, as it’s more about how Blizzard wants online connections to operate within Battle.net.
“I’m actually kind of surprised in terms of there even being a question in today’s age around online play and the requirement around that,” said Bridenbecker. “We’ve been doing online gameplay for 15 years now and with World of WarCraft and our roots in Battle.net and now with Diablo 3, it really is just the nature of how things are going, the nature of the industry. When you look at everything you get by having that persistent connection on the servers, you cannot ignore the power and the draw of that.
“Internally I don’t think DRM ever actually came up when we talked about how we want connections to operate. Things that came up were always around the feature-set, the sanctity of the actual game systems like your characters. You’re guaranteeing that there are no hacks, no dupes. All of these things were points of discussion, but the whole copy protection, piracy thing, that’s not really entering into why we want to do it. I’m a huge purveyor of online sites and from my standpoint, I don’t look at DRM solutions and go, ‘Wow, those are awesome.’ I look at those and say, ‘Wow, those kind of suck.’ But if there’s a compelling reason for you to have that online connectivity that enhances the gameplay, that doesn’t suck. That’s awesome.”
Bridenbecker goes on to say that offering an offline mode would introduce a “separate user flow,” and path which the firm doesn’t feel many players would traverse.
There was also the issue with Dibalo 2, where when players wanted to go online, they had to create a new user from scratch. With Diablo 3, Blizzard wants to “keep everything clean,” and keep players from having to do this.
Bridenbecker never explained to MTV why Blizzard couldn’t make transferring an offline character into online work.
Despite forcing players to be constantly connected through their Battlenet accounts, Bridenbecker said solo players are still welcome and the constant online was not implemented to force users in to multiplayer.
“There seem to be folks that believe that because you have to be connected, it’s like you’re on Facebook or out there with the rest of the world,” he said. “That’s really not the case. Yes, you’re going to have a connection, yes, your character will be stored on a server, but it doesn’t mean you have to socialize with people. It doesn’t mean you have to do anything but play the game by yourself.
“You’ll still be able to have a private game. You’ll still be able to go off and play the game solo and adventure solo. You can opt to bring other people to your world if you want, but that’s up to you.”
Beta testing for D3 is expected sometime during the September quarter.