Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
 
How not to launch a single-player game

I have lost count of the number of MMORPG launches I participated. Given that sort of experience, I would say that the launch of Diablo III was par for the course: Login servers overloaded. Strange error messages including "you don't own a copy of Diablo III" regardless of whether you bought the game online or retail. Lack of official information from Blizzard. Pretty much what you'd expect for any big MMO launch.

Only problem: Diablo III isn't exactly a MMORPG. A significant part of the people who bought the game will not have played MMORPGs, and would have expected the launch of Diablo III to go like the launch of any single-player game: You buy a box with a disc, you install the game, you play. And Diablo III didn't provide that.

Given how many people play actual MMORPGs in a way which very much resembles a single-player experience, I think that most players of Diablo III are looking for exactly such a single-player experience with this game. A good number of players will either never play multi-player at all, or in a very limited way, occasionally with real life friends. But as everybody is forced to play online, even the "single-player" customers get all the disadvantages of a multi-player experience, all the server problems, overcrowding, and the like. I suspect that isn't going to go down well.

Comments:
Yeah terrible launch :( Managed to play only 2 short sessions so far before server going down, and if I have time at other times the server is down for maint or something :(
 
Agreed, as a single player game it's a horrible launch.
 
Yes, it was a bad launch. But it was absolutely obvious. Give it a few days and it will be as smooth as silk.

Those who pretended to play at midnight and now invoke a lawyer simply don't/didn't understand how "internet things" work. It was obvious, complaining about that is childish. It's been months people were talking about a 99.9% "bad" launch.

Also, complaining about the "online only" feature is childish too. We know it since when... august 2011? Those who don't like this feature simply stay away from the game. Period.

Finally, the "online only" feature will (theoretically) prevent hacks and duplicates. Stuff that plagued Diablo II and similar games.

I want a safe environment where I can "earn" my achievements and be sure no one is cheating and/or hacking stuff. This is a good attempt in the right direction.
 
I forgot to mention one thing: "single player" does not mean "must be offline". It just means you play it alone. But you still use the online infrastructure that allows the safe environment.

Diablo III is online-only because offering an offline client would open the doors o hacks and cheats and dupes. Of course Blizzard wants to gain some profit from the RMAH, so what? Just don't use it and have fun with the game.

Do we really want a Diablo 2 experience, yet again? Did you forget what a pain it was?

Again, those who purchase Diablo III looking for the "offline" button simply did not get properly informed. Complaining about that NOW is useless.
 
on the other hand, it's Diablo III. Much as almost no-one anymore remembers the terrible launch that WoW had, no-one will remember this launch either.

D3 will comfortably settle into being one of the biggest selling games of the year, and over the course of the next few weeks or so, simply no-one will care.

People playing at launch are, by definition, the early adopters. By the time the early majority (not to speak of the late majority of players) pick up the game, the game will run smoothly and push all the behavioural buttons it's designed to push.
 
Midnight 00:01, I was there too. I witnessed the situation. Did I enrage because I couldn't play in the middle of the night? Did I blame Blizzard for something so obvious that even my wife said "honey, I am sure you will come to bed within 1 hour past midnight".

No. Because I knew that. Again, it was obvious.
 
@seanas

I've been tracking the community response and I'm not sure everyone will be so quick to forget:

http://kotaku.com/5910683/the-best-of-the-worst-diablo-iii-anger
 
Do the incentives to build a large, scalable online infrastructure differ when there is no subscription payment for an online game?

Blizzard may never have more players playing Diablo 3 than at launch and unreliability of the servers may not impact their purchase of an expansion years in in the future.

Contrast that with the likelihood of a player purchasing a subscription if the first few days on their 'free' month of Warcraft play they are unable to logon.

It still seemed to be possible to get into WoW last night despite logon problems with the Battle.net servers. I thought the authentication servers were shared across all Battle.net products.

Tom
 
@Loque Nahak: What is obvious to YOU is not necessarily obvious to everybody. Anybody who has participated in a few MMO launches will not have been surprised. But a lot of Diablo III players aren't MMO players, and possibly experienced such a launch for the very first time.

And whether it is obvious or expected is one thing. Whether launching a game and it not being playable for many people on launch day is good marketing is yet another thing.
 
http://www.metacritic.com/game/pc/diablo-iii/user-reviews

Looking at metacritic Diablo 3 is getting slaughtered at the moment, it got a worse user score than SWTOR even.
 
I think this'll be the game that breaks metacritic because no one will be able to take it seriously (assuming they did before). What's the point devs being judged on metacritic scores if the best selling game of the year has these issues?
 
@Loque Nahak: How is a singleplayer-mode preventing you from having a safe environment? Let people cheat offline if they want, it won't affect you if you play online at all. And even back in Diablo2 everyone knew that a offline-Lvl99-Character wasn't worth any bragging rights, because it was most likely cheated.

Sure, back then playing online wasn't too safe either, but I don't see how disabling single player makes the battle.net any safer. And from the viewpoint of a purely offline singleplayer-gamer there wasn't even any "pain" back then, those people simply played offline and encountered neither cheats nor launch-problems.
 
I like the idea of a safe environment but in a single player game I don't really want to have to depend on the internet being up and working. We live in the country and while we have wireless high speed that works fine it is not always reliable. It may be down or sometimes very very slow for a bit. Those time I will jump over to a single player game. But if more of them go for the requirement of online connection then suddenly I can't play single player games either.
 
I like the idea of a safe environment but in a single player game I don't really want to have to depend on the internet being up and working. We live in the country and while we have wireless high speed that works fine it is not always reliable. It may be down or sometimes very very slow for a bit. Those time I will jump over to a single player game. But if more of them go for the requirement of online connection then suddenly I can't play single player games either.
 
I'm very surprised that no one has kicked up a fuss about the 'Always on' DRM (With great features that you may not want anyway!). I mean, there was a HUGE number of complaints about Ubisoft, when they tried to implement the same system (although, content was kept user side, not server side)

In my opinion, there is no reason Diablo couldn't have 2 modes, an 'online' mode with auctioning enabled + Always on DRM + Co-op/PVP and a single player mode.
 
You know I think launch day problems can be perceived as challenges of getting into an exclusive club. If the game is actually good and the problems get eventually solved that then it may even have a beneficial afterglow.

I for one could never imagine standing in a line at night waiting to get into a club, where there is nothing else but some loud music and alcohol, basically like any other club (ok that's why I think it is like since I never been in one). Yet there are tens of thousands of people wainting in line to get into their club every night.

Back to D3 how many people do you really think this has turned away vs how many people have bought D3 after hearing just how difficult was to get in?

Even among those that complain a lot of people actually enjoy it, they can write about it on forums and blogs, they get together and commiserate etc. shared misery brings about a certain type of camaderie and sense of belonging. Don't underestimate that.
 
I was able to log in and play about 1 hour and 20 minutes after launch. People must have had some very high expectations indeed if they thought they could play without issues at 12.01. It might have a single player component but this game is online through and through.

Now's a bit too late to complain. I had my 15 minutes of nerd rage when they announced, a very long time ago, that it would be online-only. But that passed. I got used to the idea and I knew I would enjoy the game despite all this. And I really do.

For my part I consider the launch a success. After the initial hiccup the servers seemed rock solid. I just hope they stay that way.
 
You know I think launch day problems can be perceived as challenges of getting into an exclusive club.

I've read a twitter comment like that: "Diablo III is super challenging. I've played the game for hours and haven't even beaten the login screen yet."
 
I hate to repeat an internet meme in a serious discussion, but I was completely unable to not think about #FirstWorldProblems. People were blowing a gasket...over not being able to play much the very first game? Of a game whose legacy is still being popular and fun over a decade after it was released? And it wasn't even someone being a little annoyed, it was people going radically, insanely out of control with their anger, screaming epithets, it's kind of creepy.

I got one session in about an hour and a half after midnight. Couldn't get on later in the day, but it works perfectly fine now. Why the freakout?
 
I think everyone should be reminded once again, that the complaints and issues of the blog/forum community have not only virtually 0 impact on anything but represents a insignificant fraction of a fraction of the player base. In fact in the greater scheme of things that fraction would be statistically non existent.
 
Having played it a big in boring mode (single player) and incredibly fun mode (multiplayer), I'm convinced that random anonymous grouping (ie, WoW's LFD) is the killer app of Diablo 3. They want you to be online because they want you in groups because that's where the game gets incredibly fun.
 
In fact in the greater scheme of things that fraction would be statistically non existent.

The question is how much influence that fraction can exert. For example there are only 1,965 user ratings on Metacritic, so the 1,291 of them which are highly negative have a big influence on the final score. Even if, as you say, 1,291 unhappy people are statistically non existent if you look at the whole player base.

And this YouTube video has 164,000 views!
 
The vast majority of players have never read an mmo blog or joined a gaming forum. They probably have never heard of the RMAH, and won't care let alone get upset about its existence.

These are people who might decide to spend a couple bucks to get a cool new item, and who definitely won't spend more than 10 seconds analyzing this decision, the economics, the fairness, etc.


They also wouldn't care it other players "cheated" to buff up in a single player game, or care whatsoever about equality in said type of game.

Only the tiny fractional minority of people who invest so much in their gaming that they would get upset over others getting achievements unfairly (etc) are going to be the ones discussing on forums and the like.

Personally I am an anomaly, I don't have time for extended or even regular gaming. I do however have interest in gaming and the time to read blogs and forums! However when i do play I have never once tried to get achievement, actually never once thinking about or considering their existence.
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool