Diablo 3′s Botched Launch: 3 Reasons Gamers Should Care

2. Bad for Gaming

But setting aside the inconvenience for customers, diabacles – sorry, debacles – like this are also bad for the gaming industry.

A parable: Sony co-founder Akio Morita’s excellent autobiography, Made In Japan, mentions how, as a young boy in the 1930s, he toured several Detroit auto manufacturing plants with his father. When he returned 30 years later, this time as a powerful Japanese business leader, he did the same tour and found that these factories still used the same machinery, the same labor management, the same everything. His conclusion was that they assumed they’d never have competition, and thus had no interest in changing to suit an evolving business climate or changing consumer needs.

That’s important to keep in mind when you consider what happened in the late 60s and early 70s. It’s considered a cliche for a reason to point out how much maintenance American cars require, but it needs to be noted how much that used to be a much bigger aspect of owning one of them, so much so that standard purchases came with lengthy service plans. As the Japanese and German auto industries muscled in on Detroit’s business, they did so with cars that simply worked, and worked for a long time. They also made them more fuel efficient, in part due to not having access to vast oil reserves like the US did. When the oil shocks of the 1970s took America by surprise, American consumers were pushed into the arms of Japanese auto manufacturers and discovered that not only did they save money on gas, they also saved money from not having to spend so much money just keeping the things running.

But it wasn’t just maintenance and fuel efficiency. At every turn, the US Auto industry has resisted any kind of change that suits actual resource and economic conditions. The problem is so acute that whenever Detroit has started to surge, as it did in the late 90s and early 00′s with the enormous popularity of SUVs, they simply go back to old habits: Big, expensive, high maintenance gas guzzlers, only to have their asses handed to them whenever the economy shivers.

The video gaming industry doesn’t have Detroit’s excuse. It has been a global concern since its beginnings in the 1970s. But as certain companies become bigger and more powerful, they’ve begun to adopt a similarly intractable outlook. It shouldn’t come as a shock that more than a few people have commented on the way Diablo 3 seems to be the first game not released under Blizzard’s time-honored ‘when it’s ready’ schedule, but was instead pegged to an arbitrary (and, we speculate, investor friendly) release date. Similarly, evidence suggests that Mass Effect 3′s notoriously bad ending was also the result of the game being rushed to meet a release date. The results were different, but the process appears to be the same: either each company suffered from a massive bout of incompetence, or they did a cost/benefit analysis and determined that they could get away with inconveniencing their customers more than they could get away with upsetting the people who dictate release schedules. Either way, they shipped an inferior product when they didn’t have to.

That is an astonishing business model. It assumes customers will never grow weary of being jerked around, that they have infinite capacity for forgiveness, and that they have nowhere else to go. And for now, maybe they don’t. But it won’t be like that forever. Hubris like this bodes ill for an industry still fighting to be recognized as a legitimate creator of cultural product… especially if it is successful in convincing the customer to give their good will without any expectation of reciprocation.

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30 Comments on Diablo 3′s Botched Launch: 3 Reasons Gamers Should Care

Baker

On May 18, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I enjoyed the argument about quality after payment (or use after payment).

You paid for a product that professionals spent years putting together. I find it hard to believe that people are actually defending games (cough SWTOR) that are incomplete at launch and take days/weeks to become what it should have been when released.

I am not griping over Diablo 3 personally, but I have been to the forums. The really funny posts usually go along the lines of “NEVER PURCHASING A BLIZZARD PRODUCT AGAIN!” because they could not play their video game for 3 hours. That, to me, is kind of pathetic. But, then again, if you purchased… say… a bicycle and the handlebars fell off after 1 hour of use, the rider would problably be very unhappy about his well-earned (I hope) money being spent on a piece of crap. Diablo 3 isn’t a piece of crap… but this is a weak analogy so just stop reading here :P

Mark Burnham

On May 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

“We don’t mean to whine, but it’s a bit rich that when it comes time to yell at Roger Ebert for failing to recognize video games as art, gamers are the celebrated cavalry zooming over the nearest hill. Yet when it’s time to point out that, maybe, some very specific promises were very brazenly broken, or that perhaps built-in inconveniences aren’t what we signed up for? Suddenly, video games are for losers who don’t have sex”

THAT ^^

DaTa78

On May 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I am not a mindless game buying machine, even though I have been playing video games since I was 10 years old. My expectations remain the same for video games, they are fun, long lasting, creative, and (within certain boundires) dynamic with their respective plots. I also expect the games are dynamic with their graphics, engines capabilities, and update/tech support. If they stop meeting these standards I stop buying. I can’t say much for my other fellow gamers, but I know with a 90% certainty that if the industry doesn’t get a reality check, certain companies arn’t going to be seeing profits from new games that they make

Loveless

On May 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

One again GameFront deserves the internet equivalent of a slow clap and standing ovation for actually understanding what it is to be a gamer and not being complete @$$hats and calling people who are rightfully upset names and trying to degrade them. Congrats on being the best game info site on the web in my humble opinion.

*stands*

*Starts to slow clap*

Gasmaskangel

On May 18, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I discovered gamefront during the whole ME3 ending debacle, and I have to say I’ve never seen a gaming website like it in my life. You guys are a breath of fresh air, if only because you seem to realize that games are not the divinely inspired creations of demigods walking among us mere mortals, and that we should not treat them as such.

Clay

On May 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm

I- like many others- found this site in the wake of ME3′s disasters, and it is the articles like this that make this site the only gaming site I now browse.

Thank you, well done, and please keep up the good work.

Travis

On May 19, 2012 at 1:10 am

I want to put your car analogy another way. So you buy a car and then as soon as you got it 3 million other people got the same car and there was no room on the street for you to drive your car for a few hours because of all the traffic……would you blame the car company for selling too many cars??

Firefly

On May 19, 2012 at 1:10 am

My experience of Diablo 3 has been wonderful with no problems at all. The game isn’t broken but I don’t doubt that people are having problems. Unfortunately this is the nature of the PC format: too many variations in hardware. I do agree that online play should be a feature not compulsory though. Too many games are going down this DRM route but there is a reason and we are all guilty. Remember the last pirated game you downloaded to “try before you buy”? I bet it’s still installed and played.

On the flip side though I do feel that game companies are getting greedy by building in ways to make extra cash such as DLC. I remember when big map packs and patches that contained a lot more than just bug fixes. that doesn’t happen anymore.

Tristan

On May 19, 2012 at 3:41 am

You guys rock, Game Front you are the proverbial sensible man’s champion. In an age where people have been brow beaten by fanboyism and mass marketing, it’s good to see that some “common” sense still exists and someone out there is willing to rub the powers that be the wrong way for the good off the common folk.

Cheers to you, I tip my hat.

bferguson

On May 19, 2012 at 10:45 am

*joins the slow clap*

Brilliantly written editorial. I’ll be coming back to read you guys from now on.

'madhatter

On May 19, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Spot on article, so many games have been pumped out way too fast and the quality suffered….Dead Island and Resistance 3 were both riddled with so many glitches and errors they were nearly unplayable for the first two months of their life. A common trend seems to be to pump out short campaign games in an attempt to release a new game every year, rather than spending 3 years on one game… personally the first game I’ve seen in a long time that WASN’T rushed, was the new Final Fantasy game… Mass Effect really hit home for me, gaming industry will go down the tubes if they don’t switch from quantity to quality. I would rather buy one good game than 3 games.

Nulltron

On May 19, 2012 at 12:39 pm

Good article Ross Lincoln. A well conceived glimpse into the future. Nothing much can be added to it, except a look at the past. Not that you have not, but only within this site’s mandate. The put downs coming in the standard “whiner”, and “entitled” bullish idiocy are not exclusive to the computer gaming world. But, and it becomes inescapably obvious surfing the web, that it is exclusive to the American “world”. You only have to remember that the opposition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were put to silence by using just those words: entitled and whiny. Then the argument against war was taken as a potentially lethal blow to the American “world”. With amazing speed and fluidity it has seeped into the logical and intellectual arsenal of the greater majority of Americans, replacing logic and intellect. Now, even criticizing a company for its products is striking at the roots of what is America. The bigger the company, the greater the sense of danger. You are hoping that the sort of criticism and even its existence will do good for the computer gaming industry (turning it into an art form perhaps ). Let’s hope that it bubbles further up, voiding any artistic claims to the act of killing countless innocents around the world by America.

TIm

On May 19, 2012 at 2:01 pm

It is nice to see a gaming site that is not afraid to be critical of developers/publishers when they make blunders. I stopped going to IGN and GameSpot after they aggressively defended ME3.

This quote “the very idea that fans even have a right to complain was called into question” summarized IGN/Gamespot’s behavior. Those sites angered me so much because I had relied on them for a critical opinion on games, but they function as an advertising site for the big developers. They exist only to help sell games.

Mark

On May 19, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Once again gamefront, you prove yourselves to be a superior website and source of video game news. Your analysis and comparison of video games to the the Detroit auto industry goes to show that you are in fact educated, legitimate journalists, unlike many other gaming writers appear. Most other gaming sites seem to never run anything more thoughtful than “Top 10 Call of Duty Kills” or some other crap like that. Your articles are as legitimate a source of journalism as any other article about any other topic. You should applauded.

angryhell

On May 20, 2012 at 7:35 am

Maybe you can do what i do; I didn’t buy Diablo 3!! For me, Blizzard changed, from a top of the line game company, to the ugly “All we want is your money”, side!
In general i never buy a game before professional game sites post a review, or i get a chance to play them before buying.
If all gamers will do the same, the companies will have no choice but to improve!!

Chris

On May 20, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I am one of the many who flocked here in the wake of the Mass Effect catastrophe, having left the incompetent, condescending shills on other websites (I will find you, Moriarty) and these kinds of articles are why. Keep up the good work, it’s a travesty that IGN has so many more viewers than you do.

sur

On May 20, 2012 at 1:54 pm

I guess Blizzard needs another 10 years to make this game better! It all happened because of the rush.
12 years are not enough to make a game in their standard!!
A moron of a company!

Tristan

On May 21, 2012 at 12:52 am

Now there is a free server checker… I read on Gamespy. WTBalls… What’s next, waiting for push notifications to give you the go ahead to play a game? When did playing video game become an activity we did on someone else’s schedule?

clamsarehot

On May 21, 2012 at 3:35 am

The sad thing is people are actually dumb enough to buy these games anyway. And we let these people VOTE? A shining example of why democracy is flawed: the masses are fools.

clamsarehot

On May 21, 2012 at 3:54 am

The sad thing is people are actually dumb enough to buy these games anyway. And we let these people VOTE? A shining example of why democracy is flawed: the masses are fools. Just as the dumb masses will watch crappy movies, so will they buy crappy games.

@Baker “Diablo 3 isn’t a piece of crap” – Uh, yes, it is.

@Nulltron Oh please, it’s not just America that’s the problem but democracy that is the problem. Democracy is tyranny of the masses. The US was founded as a republic where only people who were smart enough to know what they were doing had the right to vote. We actually had constitutional rights then. Some evil people decided they’d rather have everyone vote so they could push their own agenda using socialist ideology. Western dysfunctional, idiotic civilization is the result.

Nulltron

On May 21, 2012 at 8:11 am

@clamsarehot

It is the lack of democracy, and the lack of ways and means for people to express and enforce their will that has resulted in the United States of Affairs as it is today. A product, a company, or marketing in general works and thrives on exactly the same principles that are utilized to shape the American politics. It is the idea of vote shaping, even after having deprived the populace of any alternative within even the narrow bounds of the American constitution, that finds its way to rather minuscule parts of the system like Blizzard and Bioware.

Yes, the American constitution, the “framers” were very worried about the “illiterate” masses actually saying how their government should function and actually the chance to get to express their wishes and ideas. That is the whole purpose of the “Electoral College” system. It is entirely possible in America that a candidate different from the one that people voted for is elected to the office. It does not happen very often, but it does and it has. So, unless you are being sarcastic in your comment about the very notion of democracy in America, you do not have much to worry about.

The opinions are shaped in the interest of the concentrations of money and power, by agencies that are there with the sole mission of educating people about their choices and their rights. In America and the entire Western World, these agencies, the media, government organizations, and so forth, are acting as nothing but a dark cloud over the reality of the way the system works, radiating hallucinating illusions of general feeling of well being and prosperity.

One thing that is absolutely amazing in regards to Mass Effect 3 and Diablo 3, is how a certain section of the American society is waking up to the idea that something very fundamental is amiss and that something is very wrong. It is not the deficit, the housing crisis, the economic crisis, the war and the crime. It is the “Day that entertainment failed”.

Phil Hornshaw

On May 21, 2012 at 8:15 am

@Travis

But in your analogy, the car company isn’t making the road and deciding how wide it is and fully aware of the fact that it has sold so many cars that the roads won’t accommodate them. Blizzard built the roads, tested the roads, sold the cars, knew everyone would want to drive all their cars at once, and must have known the road couldn’t support all the cars. And said nothing.

Nulltron

On May 21, 2012 at 8:45 am

Yes, it is Blizzard’s cars, roads, time of the day, toll and highway patrol. The only thing that is not (was not) theirs was your money, which now is as well. They sold you a wet matchstick. It will spark when it is dry. (“When it is ready”?). And then it won’t.

greed1914

On May 21, 2012 at 11:31 pm

This is why I like this site. We really need more video game journalists that are willing to point out when something doesn’t make sense. Why is a disgruntled customer considered a whiner when something is not what was promised? Why are they a whiner when the product they bought is not in working order the day they bought it? Unfortunately, a lot of gamers have been lulled into a state of acceptance by the companies that make the games, and many journalists don’t say anything (or worse yet, attack the gamers they supposedly serve) out of fear that the advertising dollars they depend on will dry up.

Sure, games can have some bugs. But game crashing bugs that are this common? Or not providing enough server resources when you require an internet connection? That isn’t acceptable.

Sure, a product might not be quite what the hype made it out to be, but when you have to spin-doctor negative press, and ultimately hide behind things like “artistic integrity” when you’re caught in a lie, that isn’t acceptable.

anonymous

On May 22, 2012 at 12:59 am

I applaud this article, and will be linking it on the blizzard forums, their fanboys are insufferable at the moment, and are s**tposting all over legitimate complaint threads. It’s disgusting behavior.

KLGChaos

On May 22, 2012 at 4:11 am

Great article. You guys did a great job with the ME3 ending and now this… and you’re right on the money. I couldn’t believe how many gaming “journalists” jumped on the bandwagon of calling the fans names. They really came off as no better than your common internet trolls. People have a right to complain when they don’t get the product they were promised or when the product fails to work.

Honestly, with all the DRM stuff going on (and Diablo IIIs eight hour maintenance making a single player game unplayable), all the paying for DLC that’s already on the disc, and publishers forcing games out before they’re ready, I could picture another gaming crash like we saw in the 80s coming around again eventually.

It’s because publishers aren’t in it for the games. They’re in it for the money– they just use games as a product to make that money. They don’t see the fan base, they don’t see the lore or history, all they see are dollar signs.

Matt

On May 22, 2012 at 6:32 am

“I want to put your car analogy another way. So you buy a car and then as soon as you got it 3 million other people got the same car and there was no room on the street for you to drive your car for a few hours because of all the traffic……would you blame the car company for selling too many cars??”

How about this analogy. Let’s say there is a concert, and the promoter keeps selling tickets even though the venue is full. People get crushed and injured.

Seems to me if Blizzard didn’t have the capacity to service all of their sales, then they shouldn’t have shipped all of their units? I am sure they had sales predictions done up based on similar titles, history, current market, and pre sales a long time ago.

clamsarehot

On May 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm

It is the lack of liberty that is the problem, not the lack of democracy. Democracy itself is anathema to liberty.

Nulltron

On May 23, 2012 at 4:57 am

clamsarehot,

Allow me to put forward my reluctant theory of the “Conservation of Liberty”, a la the “Conservation of Energy” principle. The total amount of liberty is always the same. There is no lack or abundance of it. It is only that who has it or who gets to enjoy it. The American constitution has made certain that it is not the “illiterates” that do so. Or equivalently, it is up for grabs elsewhere, outside of the “illiterate” masses. For outside regions of illiterate masses, it proposes a system where the stronger will enjoy more liberty than the weak. Over time, the weak will have to relinquish competition with the end result that a very small minority can practice liberty. That, as is very well known is the rich and the powerful.

Democracy is supposed to be the great equalizer, where upon practicing it, everybody will enjoy liberty. Which is where things have gone wrong in America. The power controls the entire democratic process. In other words, the American constitution is a method of loading the dice over a period of one to two centuries in favor of the power.

There is enough liberty alright. It is only has to be liberated.

CitizenKeen

On May 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

It’s “raises the question,” not “begs the question.”