Blizzard spent a lot of PR capital earlier in the year educating all who would listen that Diablo is an inherently social and online experience, and that’s why Diablo III is built around such a restrictive always-on policy in terms of your net connection. To be honest, it never really rung all that true; it certainly didn’t match my Diablo experience, but there’s a tendency to trust Blizzard that even I’m not immune to.
However, in a blog post on Battle.net, it appears that Blizzard just didn’t get it, and is really only just learning how people actually play.
“While many people are playing co-op, it’s still a minority of games. Ideally we would like players who want to play solo to be able to solo, and players who want to play co-op to play co-op,” said Wyatt Cheng, senior technical game designer. “At the moment though playing solo is the clear choice, even for those who would prefer co-op with some of their friends.”
And while you might think Blizzard admitting that is good news, the rest of the post ignores the news, and in fact goes on to talk about upcoming co-op balance changes. Frustrating. It’s probably too much to hope that Blizz might try and address this, but patching in offline functionality; at this stage, the best we can likely hope for is that Diablo IV has offline play.
Interestingly, check out this quote from our interview with Diablo III lead dev, Jay Wilson, from back before the game launched.
“We see it as a natively cooperative game, and we had a lot of problems with people in Diablo 2 playing the game offline and not realising that there even was an online component; or, once they discovered there was an online component, not being able to transfer their character over to the official Battle.net. That was a break-point for a lot of people, and they just left the game. Those are bad problems that we wanted to fix.”
I suspect they were in fact bad problems that didn’t really exist...