What Does Diablo III’s Launch Say About Always-Online Games?

Diablo III error screen

Diablo III was released on May 15, 2012. That is to say twelve years after the release of the last Diablo-related product (the Diablo II: Lord of Destruction expansion.) But even when Blizzard’s latest PC game is one of the most awaited games of the decade, its launch is considered a fiasco. As most people downloaded and got copies of the game they all tried to launch the game at the same time, but as Diablo III is one of those titles that requires a constant internet connection, Blizzard’s servers were quickly overwhelmed and players started getting various errors.

Soon after these issues Blizzard posted an update on Facebook:

“Please note that due to a high volume of traffic, login and character creation may be slower than normal. If you’re unable to login to the game or create characters, please wait and try again. We’ve temporarily taken our Battle.net websites offline and launched more servers to accomodate for the traffic. We hope to resolve these issues as soon as possible and appreciate your patience.”

Of course, problems persisted for a little while. But apart from technical issues what does this say about always-online games? Titles that require a constant internet connection are definitely nothing new, but in this case, Diablo III represents one of the biggest releases of the year and if a company like Blizzard is willing to start using it, we can expect other smaller companies to include it in their games as well. In addition, most of the people who start playing the game will be doing it on their own, so why is Blizzard forcing them to stay online if they simply want to play by themselves? Why does the single-player portion of the game require a constant internet connection? I know piracy is one of the main reasons, then there’s an upcoming update that will feature an auction house (that has a special in-game trading economy.) Nevertheless, I still don’t understand the reasoning behind all this.

One of the biggest releases was rendered unplayable just because a company stubbornly refuses to allow its users to play offline. Of course, Blizzard is working on these issues and hopefully, a couple of days from now everything will be working fine and everyone will forget about the situation. Unfortunately and until game companies improve their services, an always-online game means that you may play that title whenever they want you to play.

For those interested in checking the status of each server, Blizzard has set up a site where you can do just that.