Diablo III and the Future of Single Player Games
One of the most anticipated games of the decade Diablo III is released, almost 10 years after its predecessor but it carried a sort of a restriction, one that requires users to be perpetually connected to the internet if they wanted to explore the hellish dungeons or slay the demon overlords in Diablo III. Many a user has complained about DRM that has been implemented in several PC games. Assassins Creed II had DRM but the hackers got around that with little difficulty. That means that the hackers can get a crack for Diablo III too right? Wrong. Wait maybe Blizzard will patch the game for offline play? Nope, it’s not as easy as it sounds. It’s not about changing a bit from 0 to 1 so people can play without the internet, it’s much more complicated than that.
Diablo III just doesn’t have DRM that requires you to register their game on their servers by entering the CD-Key. It requires you to play the entire game from their servers. The placing of NPC’s or monsters to the amount of loot you find is all obtained from Blizzard’s servers, so hacking the game is not as easy as you think. Blizzard implemented the DRM primarily because of the auction house but also to stop piracy.
One month after the release of Diablo III and there was still no way for people to play the game without buying it(a.k.a. pirating it). One of the well known pirates, going by the name of Skidrow, had promised people that they would find a work-around to the Blizzards DRM. They posted the collector’s edition of the game for people to download and wait “till the crack was ready”. Finally Skidrow announced, more than a month later, that they had made an emulator for the game and it was still in alpha. Users rejoiced as it meant they could now play Diablo III for free(and offline) but there was a hitch.
As I explained earlier, all of the loot drops were calculated and delivered by Blizzard’s servers and not the game itself that is residing on your hard-drive, which means that the emulator that was released by Skidrow was not a true representation of the game but a mere attempt to stay true to the original game. This means that the location of NPC’s, the amount of loot that you get won’t represent the true game.
What Blizzard has done with Diablo III has almost effectively killed piracy for the game. Yes there are people who will still play the glitchy pirated version rather than spending $60 for the game, but these are probably the kind of people who would never play games if piracy did not exist.
And this brings us to the future of single player games. Will Ubisoft, EA, and other publishers follow the steps of Diablo III? Will offline single player gaming be dead? This would require developers to drastically alter the code of their game to ensure that players can play their games smoothly. This will also increase the costs of maintaining games with regular upkeep of servers for several years. Do you like opening up some of your older consoles like the SNES and playing 8-bit Mario? Maybe 20 years down the line you would like to open up your Xbox 720 to play the single player campaign of Halo 5 but guess what Microsoft pulled down the servers15 years ago.
I don’t see this taking place this gen but come next gen, offline gaming could be dead as we know it.