Bitching About Diablo 3 Is Allowed; Advertising in Games Can Go to Hell


(This is another edition of RANT Bites, a weekly opinion piece column on GameFront. Check back every week for more. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect those of GameFront.)

We have two substantial Rant Bites for you this week. One involves the elephant in the room, Diablo III. The other involves the money colored elephant in your game, adverts for downloadable content. Choose your subject wisely, warrior, for you may only pick one. Actually, you can have both. Because I am in love with you. Romantic love.

Diablo III is not served:

I didn’t want to commit a full article to this because I’m working on a video concerning the subject, but I did feel the need to discuss the subject that’s flowing from everybody’s fingertips at the moment — Diablo III’s controversial launch, and the slew of server issues that have resulted from the game’s always-on DRM. Yes, I know some call it an anti-cheating measure. I call it DRM. Because that is, ultimately, what it is. It’s a feature implemented at the cost to the player in order to “protect” the product. It is, as far as I am concerned, DRM. It works the same way as Ubisoft’s always-on PC shenanigans, and therefore should be treated with the same amount of contempt.

Anyway, the definition of the system isn’t the point, the point is the fact that, last night, I was killed twice in a row due to single-player lag that kept shifting my frail Demon Hunter into mobs of angry Fallen. The point is that Error 37, alongside a number of other errors with even bigger numbers, have been plaguing users since launch. The point is that people have spent upwards of $60 on a game, possibly taken time out of their personal schedules to play it, and have been unable to play due to the kind of server strain reserved for MMOs. Ultimately, the point is that, if you’re angry or upset about that, you have every right to be.

Don’t listen to the people calling you an entitled whiner. Don’t listen to the pundits suggesting you shouldn’t complain, or that you’re an “idiot” for buying a game you wanted instead of a game they wanted you t0 buy. Last night, a chap told me he felt bad for being annoyed about the Diablo III downtime. He said it made him feel spoiled and entitled. Now, the “entitlement” argument is up for debate when you’re talking about preferences, purism, and differences of opinion. As far as I am concerned, that word has no place in a discussion about the inability to use a product that has just been purchased for a not-insignificant amount of money. It’s embarrassing enough for a real MMO, where the downtime is at least expected as part of the experience, but it’s simply not acceptable in this circumstance. Some of you will counter by saying that Diablo III is not a single-player game. Even if that’s true (it’s debatable considering co-op is still optional), here’s the thing — it isn’t an MMO either.

At the end of the day, Blizzard’s reasons and justifications don’t matter. They don’t. You can give me any number of reasons why Diablo III has to be consistently connected to the Internet. You cannot, however, give me a single solitary reason why it’s okay for paying customers to be unable to play a game they just bought. The bottom line is that loyal consumers are being given a problem that shouldn’t be theirs to deal with, and that’s all I give a shit about. That’s also why, if you are pissed off at Blizzard, you ought not feel bad about it. It’s not “entitled” to want to play Diablo III if you paid for it. You actually are entitled to that.

In-Game Ads For In-Game Purchases

I am not 100% against in-game advertising. Provided the savings on costs are passed onto the player, I am a fan of them in theory. Of course, publishers would rather earn the cash with ads and still charge users $60 for the privilege, but there’s still potential in advertising that I wouldn’t mind seeing explored. When it’s classy and unintrusive, such as Solid Snake rocking an iPod or a real-life product appearing on a background billboard, I don’t really have much of a problem with brand names sneaking into the experience. In fact, seeing something like that has the benefit of making a world look even more real and believable, which isn’t a bad thing at all. The real problem arises when games start advertising themselves within the game. It’s happening more and more, and it’s pissing me off.

I’m currently playing a game for review, one that shall remain nameless for now (there are dragons in it), that frequently puts adverts for its downloadable content in pop-up messages, mixed in among the tutorials and whatnot. Ostensibly, while you’re playing the game, you’re getting spammed by ads. Aside from raking up the ever-present debate about when it’s best to start working on downloadable content, the offshoot of this self-promotion is that it leaves a real sour taste in the mouth of anybody trying to enjoy the game. As we discussed in an article last week, it’s yet another situation in which a game designed to be absorbing and immersive yanks the player out of the experience and exposes them to the fact that they’re just playing a product. It totally undermines any attempt at crafting an atmospheric experience, like a puppet show in which not only are the strings visible, but the puppeteer has tattooed “GIVE ME FIVE DOLLARS” on his cock and he’s waving it about in the background.

Whether it’s a Dragon Age character asking for money before you can save his village, or big “DLC only” mission markers popping up on your open world, the way in which downloadable content is getting integrated into game worlds is pathetically tacky, and cripples the experience. If I’ve just bought a game, the last thing I want is to feel that what I’ve actually paid for is a delivery method for more stuff that I need to buy. The idea that $60 games are turning into miniature storefronts is incredibly insulting, and it’s a practice that the rising quality of free-to-play games will expose as little more than a scam. That shit has to stop, because I am sick of games that need to be cheaper already, trying to make themselves even more expensive, and sacrificing the initial game experience to do so.

Consumers will only swallow that shit until something better comes along, and I am confident that many “something better”s are only continuing to gain influence and popularity.

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14 Comments on Bitching About Diablo 3 Is Allowed; Advertising in Games Can Go to Hell

Holly

On May 17, 2012 at 3:15 pm

“I am sick of games that need to be cheaper already, trying to make themselves even more expensive, and sacrificing the initial game experience to do so.”

*stands up, applauds til hands chap*

Allan

On May 17, 2012 at 3:16 pm

People complaining about d3 launch are people you see all over the internet just complaining …
I also bought d3, i also had problems at launch, did i get worked up into a frenzy and write stinging articles about it? No. I GOT SOMETHING ELSE TO DO!

Maybe you should try it :)

Now dont get me wrong, you pay for it you expect to play it, i said exactly the same things launch night, But is it really worth this much angst? Im pretty sure there is worse things in the world, just grow up a bit

Pulse

On May 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

@Allan. Of course these people complaining about the D3 launch are doing so on the internet. Do you expect them to complain to family and friends and leave it at that? Articles like these exist to inform readers about the problems of the games industry and to speak up against the games industry about these bad practices. While the games industry will not care for one angry customer, having a huge angry group will get their attention. Diablo 3 is a great example of a game with problematic DRM, with purchasers unable to play the game because of these MMO problems which simply shouldn’t be on it to begin with. There are worst things in the world, but that’s just a ty excuse to this problem. Alrighty then, you can go back to sucking your mother’s teat. Also, you should grow up already, that’d disgusting.

Kevin

On May 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

As to the second rant, it seems like it is more a rant against DLC than anything else, the “advertising in games can go to hell” part seems a little misleading. I’d more call it “shameless DLC plugs can go to hell” of which ME3′s was certainly the worst offender.

Another thing some of the Blizzard fans need to keep in mind: if a large portion of their playerbase was locked out of WoW’s servers due to problems on Blizzard’s end, people’s accounts would be credited. How about offering a 25% off on the RMAH when it launches for a week as a sufficient mea cupla? The RMAH is evil, but if it’s there, might as well!

Friar

On May 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I will not buy a non-mmo game with an “always on” DRM requirement, or DRM disguised as “achievement trackers” (which I could give a flying f*ck about)! I have not bought an Ubisoft game since they instituted their DRM scheme, and I don’t plan on it until they removed that stupid . I was debating getting Diablo 3, I loved D1&2, but thanks to there launch issues, I will probably steer clear of it as well. Sure D3 has a co-op mode, but that does not make it an mmo. I should still be able to play my single player game where ever, however, and whenever I want, regardless of how b-net is, or is not, holding up.

James

On May 17, 2012 at 8:04 pm

@Allan

That is your prorogation. Just like some people like dressing up for comicon, who is anyone to judge that their habits are anyone else’s issue.

Go do whatever else you got to do. And let other people do whatever else they want to do.

To do say your way is the better way (even though that may only be true for you and in your opinion) is awfully “entitled”. because they at least bought the product, while you didn’t pay them a dime have any business suggesting them to do anything.

I don’t have Diablo 3, I don’t plan to buy it. Just point out the weirdness of your view as a third party.

Xoru

On May 18, 2012 at 1:33 am

For a company that has a moto that say “We launch games only when they are ready”, and in the end launches a not finished game (no PVP), and after years of development and BETAS and stress tests, they come out with this bad “on line must” so when i play single player, and really can’t login in the end because they ^&(%%$ didn’t prepare right!!
This is the beginning of Blizzard end, for me, Diablo died 12 years ago!

k

On May 18, 2012 at 3:29 am

Things like what have been stated in the article are now becoming a common experience. Another example would be Mass Effect 3 and how right at the end after what most would call an unsatisfying conclusion you are confronted with a msg popping up saying continue Shepard’s journey with future dlc. The industry is going down hill fast and the devs/pubs have only themselves to blame.

Derek

On May 18, 2012 at 6:44 am

“It’s embarrassing enough for a real MMO, where the downtime is at least expected as part of the experience, but it’s simply not acceptable in this circumstance. Some of you will counter by saying that Diablo III is not a single-player game. Even if that’s true (it’s debatable considering co-op is still optional), here’s the thing — it isn’t an MMO either.”

You can play SWtOR alone too. They should probably re-engineer their entire game’s logic to work offline for a purpose it was never advertised for.

As far as the technology is concerned, it IS an MMO. Blizzard’s servers are monitoring and validated every move every single person playing d3 makes, and AI, item management and more are offloaded into the cloud. Just because you can’t see the other people doesn’t mean the servers aren’t working just as hard.

second

On May 20, 2012 at 11:58 am

I hope people would stop buying games, when the publishers add intrusive copy protection mechanisms to them.
I hope people would stop buying additional downloadable content.
I hope that afterwards, the game publishers would learn from their mistakes.

Mark Loewen

On May 21, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I totally agree with what this guys just spoke about saying that with what we are paying for, we have a right to play the game instead of waiting for the DLC’s to come around and flash their ads around like cheap bums on the street and ask for more money.

The one main concern that pissed me off the most was Diablo 3 where I paid over 65$ for such a sort game and others commented on my complaint and said that most games are coming out like that more often. This is not what I am used to at all to be honest and not am willing to pay a left testicle to find out how the game is going to be so short in the end or have a horrible ending for that matter. Blizzard needs to face the consequences of what they are doing and needs to realize that if money does talk, it will come screaming to their door because a lot of paying customers will not be paying any longer because of the shtity quality that they are providing.

Steven

On May 29, 2012 at 4:39 am

Um sorry, but, i have NEVER gotten any ADs on Dragon Age.

Brian

On May 29, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Wait? Games should be cheaper?

It is becoming harder and harder to make a profit off games as it is, look at 38 Studios. If anything, games should be more expensive given that the price of a game has grown slower than inflation, yet the development costs have skyrocketed (even adjusted for inflation).

Viscagra

On March 19, 2014 at 6:04 am

@Brian – it may be two years down the line, but the idea that game production costs have skyrocketed is a complete lie pedalled by major games producers to justify their prices. In fact, production costs are much, much lower than they used to be, and for a higher standard.

Case in point – Bioware was founded by three men with $100,000 in 1995. 15 years later, Toxic Games was founded by three men with $100,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $30,000 LESS than it cost for BioWare. Plus, with all the different engine licensing opportunities and direct marketing options available, it’s easier to make your game cheaper, spend more time on it, and make a healthier profit at a lower price point than ever before.

So I’m sorry, you can swallow that crap about the necessity of more expensive games all you want, but the evidence doesn’t support any of it.