Diablo III Sales Bode Well for PC Games, Poorly for Always-Online Haters

Diablo III

Diablo III was expected to do well, but with so many factors to take into account — competition from Torchlight II, an always-online requirement, and complaints about a supposedly dumbed-down skill system and colorful art style — it was hard to say for sure exactly how well it would do. It turns out it did tremendously well; Blizzard has announced the long-awaited sequel has already broken sales records, something the folks over at Activision are pretty accustomed to thanks to Call of Duty. However, Diablo’s success may have more far-reaching effects than simply ensuring Blizzard and company are flush with cash.

More than 3.5 million copies of the game were sold in its first 24 hours of availability, according to Blizzard. This figure does not include the freebie digital versions handed out to those who signed up for the World of Warcraft Annual Pass. Over 1.2 million people took advantage of that offer, bringing the total number of gamers with a copy of the game on launch day up to 4.7 million, good enough to make it the “biggest PC game launch in history.” After the first week, that figure now sits at 6.3 million.


Diablo III’s Launch Issues Bring its Always-Online Requirement Back to the Forefront

Diablo III

While it could have gone worse, Diablo III‘s first few days of availability have been plagued with a variety of issues. There were problem logging in including the dreaded Error 37, and similar sorts of issues have continued to crop up since then, leading to several instances of the servers being taken offline. This has all been widespread enough that Blizzard apologized for the situation, but really, these sorts of problems are to be expected following the release of an enormously popular online game. But not everyone wants Diablo III to be an online game, and those players have suffered right alongside those who do.

Aside from the times that the servers have been brought down for emergency maintenance, which invariably affect everyone, not everyone has been subjected to a less-than-ideal experience. Having skipped the launch rush on Tuesday, I’ve yet to run into any problems myself, save for one where I’m occasionally told someone I’m chatting with is not online, which requires me to re-send my message. Annoying, sure, but hardly a big deal, especially in light of people who are losing their Achievements or having trouble playing at all for one reason or another.


If SimCity’s Always-Online Requirement is Worth It, Why Not Let Gamers Decide?


Those without a stable Internet connection needn’t even bother read about the new SimCity. As announced last month, the game requires an Internet connection to play. And not just to launch; to play the game, even on your own, you’ll need to be constantly connected to the Internet. This was said to be due to an emphasis on multiplayer and passive interactions with other players that happen as you play. We haven’t heard a whole lot more about the specifics of how that will all work, though one of the game’s developers has tried to justify the decision to make being online a precondition for playing.

“From the ground up it’s been a multiplayer game,” said Maxis producer Jason Haber in an interview with Eurogamer. “I’m not surprised we’re getting some reaction like this. But I think once people see it in action — and at E3 we’re really looking forward to showing people multiplayer and how it works — hopefully that will show them why it’s such a great feature and it’s totally worth having.


Driver’s Always-Online DRM Deemed a Success by Ubisoft

Driver San Francisco

Gamers were none too pleased with this week’s news that the PC version of Driver: San Francisco is bringing back a form of DRM used in previous Ubisoft games like Splinter Cell: Conviction and Assassin’s Creed 2. Put simply, gamers need to be online at all times in order to play. It was met with a negative reaction last time around, and after the DRM was removed from the aforementioned games in January, it seemed strange that it was making a comeback. The decision was made because Ubisoft feels it’s successful at what it’s trying to do.

Ubisoft has seen “a clear reduction in piracy of our titles which required a persistent online connection, and from that point of view the requirement is a success,” according to a company rep who spoke with PC Gamer.

Given that the DRM was said to be cracked previously and hackers prevented legitimate players from being able to access the game by bringing down Ubisoft servers, it nevertheless seems questionable to bring back this DRM that is decidedly anti-consumer.