Why Won't Diablo 3 Get Offline Capability on PC?
With the release of Diablo 3 on consoles, it is finally possible for someone to enjoy the game without an internet connection. People are already expressing appreciation for the experience, with many of the regular frustrations with the original computer title being corrected by the lack of the required connection.
Item drop rates are better since there is no cash auction house to sell (or purchase) them on. Server woes are entirely absent when there is no server one needs to connect to in the first place. Even the ability to have friends join in on local co-op without first buying the game themselves gives an added bonus to the console version.
The obvious response from the computer-gaming community is to ask when they can see some of these same features as options in their versions of the game.
According to Blizzard, the answer is never.
Recognizing not a lot of console owners connect their consoles to the internet is apparently what prompted the inclusion of local co-op for those versions of the game. Blizzard wants to keep the game a social experience, however, believing players are never having more fun than when they are playing with others. As game director Joshua Mosqueira put it,
...on PC, we really want players to feel they’re part of the bigger Blizzard and Diablo community. It’s a choice of platform and opportunity for our players to benefit from. There’s a more secure item trading environment, but also a more social environment. We have a lot of plans to make online matter. For us it’s about that connected experience.
Apparently it does not occur to Blizzard how unkind it is to say the game must be online because they have plans to make online matter.
There are some fundamental problems with the idea of any given always-online experience, especially once it is proven fact the same game can be run single-player. The first is it is a fundamental declaration to the player that they do not get the choice. Having an offline single-player mode in the game would not rob those people who enjoy playing with others of their experience, it would just give gamers an option they could choose to exercise if it is what they want.
A second issue comes from the reason the console versions of the game are stated to allow offline play. Many console users do not connect their consoles. If one of these users does not connect and does not invite friends over, they have a single-player experience, something Blizzard is outright refusing to allow for computer gamers.
So what is the difference between console gamers and computer gamers that makes the console gamers worthy of offline single-player?
The only thing I can think of is money. The console release just happened. It was an opportunity for the game to sell millions more copies, but being limited the same way the computer version is would drastically reduce those sales.
The fact Blizzard openly acknowledges many console users do not connect their consoles, a fact many people in the gaming industry openly disputed when the Xbox One's original DRM was announced, shows they did some actual research into the subject before deciding the format the console version of the game would take.
If Blizzard is truly so strong in their belief that an online-only experience is paramount to the game, then we need a better reason for them having created a version of the game that completely contradicts that vision unless played in a very specific way.
If there is a truly, genuinely good reason for the difference artistically, I would love to hear it, but as facts stand now there does not appear to be any reason to have the option for single player on consoles and not have the option on computers except to sell more console copies.
Can anyone else come up with another possible explanation?
Hit the comments if you can, I would really like to think there is more to this mess than greed.