First things first: There is a report that the Korean Ratings Board has finally rated Diablo III with ‘M’ for ‘Mature’ [via GamePur]. This could mean a release date announcement very soon.
Excited? You shouldn’t be. The hold-up of Diablo III for a game mechanism designed to extract more cash from your wallet, and not strictly for the “fun” of spending real money on virtual items that have no intrinsic value isn’t likely a game design mechanic that was dreamed up as a creative and innovative way to create a fun new experience for consumers. It was designed to get more dollars of revenue (or the South Korean won) for each dollar of investment in the Diablo franchise because business is about maximizing stockholder value.
But that isn’t the way Blizzard used to be. Bill Roper, Mike Morhaim, Chris Metzen, and others are legends LEGENDS I read and heard about during my pubescent years while furiously clicking away in Warcraft, then Warcraft II, Warcraft:Tides of Darkness, Starcraft, and Diablo. That was back in Blizzard wasn’t a victim of its own success, and the value of the company wasn’t strictly measured on business Key-Performance-Indicators like Return-On-Equity and Operating Income for stuffy finance and Wallstreet types or MBAs (I am guilty of being one of these three – and a former stock holder of Activision/Blizzard).
The Blizzard that fans fell in love with put equal concern and love into the games they crafted, the fans who adored their work, and the income that it generated. Also during that time, the decision about whether to share information regarding a release was made based on making the customers happy, not the stockholders.
Let me back up: Blizzard has never ever given a specific release date for a game, and whenever they have even mentioned a season or particular quarter of the year, they only ever hit that mark about 50% of the time. But the hype engine that has driven the Diablo III demand has long passed the point of teasing, and has turned into outright dismissal of the consumer’s frustration leading up to the release of the game. In all the years I’ve eagerly awaited a Blizzard release (and I’ve eagerly awaited all of them since Warcraft II), I’ve never been so angered, and disappointed as a Blizzard fan as with how I feel today due to the borderline disrespect the fans get from Blizzard.
This doesn’t even get to the side-bar discussion about the lack of offline play for Diablo III. It has been spun as a gameplay design intention to preserve the integrity of play, but that thinly veiled excuse fools just about nobody. This is merely a weak-handed attempt at preventing pirating, which unfortunately it won’t. What it will do however, is inconvenience and alienate legitimate customers who have spotty, slow, or no internet connections. It will only be a matter of days after release of the game that someone finds a way to create a rogue server software to use on your own machine to play, and a few months after release, Blizzard will end up patching the game and making an offline mode (but lacking features in some way – crippleware).
I’m not suggesting Diablo III won’t be a great game, because it will be. I’m not saying I won’t play Diablo III, because I will (and I might even go to a midnight release). But what I am saying, is that now that Blizzard has corporate overlords to appease, it is now beyond its zenith, and Diablo III is evidence that Blizzard has reached the beginning of its end as the highest quality developer in the western world (by my measure). This is what makes me feel betrayed more than the disrespect the fans are getting on the official Diablo III forums, because I thought that Blizzard would always be a monolith of excellence and put game design, consumers, and fans before the trite concerns of a few bean counters.Tweet
About the Author
|I was introduced to video games on the Atari 2600, and quickly moved to a Nintendo, where The Legend of Zelda, Metroid, and Dragon Warrior dominated my early non-Mario years. Now days, I do mostly PC gaming, and some console gaming. I’ve been in and out of rehab, and there’s no saving a nerd like me.
ikecube has written 101 posts on Delta Attack.