Bet no one saw this one coming . . .
There's probably (okay not probably, definitely) a lot of people playing Diablo 3 right now; I'm not one of those people. Chalk it up to not having the hardware, Hell, chalk it up to just plain not being all that interested - something that no doubt seems somewhat insane, even heretical. Whatever the case may be, that doesn't stop me from hearing about how things have been going, and frankly so far the results seem muddled.
Everyone that I've personally talked to that's played the game is impressed; they say that it's been worth the wait, and I have no reason to doubt that it's the case for them. But when I look at the whole I see a lot of rough patches and things that I honestly believe should have been handled earlier or that shouldn't have been problems in the first place.
Perhaps the most immediately obvious thing would be taking a look at the Metacritic user score; the discrepancy between the top critics' reviews and the average user review is immediately obvious. At the time of this writing the critic reviews average a respectable 86, while the user reviews have a dismal 3.8 out of 10. Why such a huge difference? Well, turns out because a lot of the negative reviews don't centre around the game's content, but rather the fact that the people can't play the game at all.
This is the one huge issue that I have with D3, that the DRM requires you to always be connected to Battlenet, even when you want to play the single player campaign. Anyone who has read this blog knows that I'm strongly against DRM that always needs to be on, even for the single player portions of titles. It's one of the things that Ubisoft caught a lot of flak over, and now thanks to Blizzard's decision to include the same DRM it seems that a not small number of people have found themselves unable to play the game that they paid for. Now remember, this isn't a case of not being able to hop on with friends, this is not being able to play multiplayer or solo because of server-side errors.
The thing that worries me -- and it worries me a lot -- is that if Blizzard makes the always online DRM work, if people stop complaining, then it opens the doors for a dangerous precedent. A lot of eyes are on the company and the game right now, watching to see if the adoption of this kind of requirement is something that players are willing to swallow. The thing is though that the single player could have easily been kept off servers, and the reasons it wasn't -- modding, item hacking, etc -- don't entirely convince me that this was anywhere near a good idea.
Sadly, this entire thing take eyes off of what should be the key point: is Diablo 3 a good game? I'm not sure, and I'm not qualified to weigh in on that, nor will I be anytime soon more then likely. The future is uncertain and I, like everyone else, can only sit, watch, and wait.