Diablo 3 launched to an absolute storm of outcry over plenty of issues, but the one persistent problem is always-online. Some feel it is enforced DRM punishing the lawful, whilst others point out a less-than-steady broadband infrastructure in their area makes keeping connected all the time an impossibility.
Imagine this happening circa-2000, when Diablo 2 descended on the world. Discussing that past classic, Blizzard’s lead designer Kevin Martens has claimed that it "was the wrong choice to allow people to play offline [in Diablo II]."
Talking to Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Martens said: "I don’t think people necessarily remember how mad they themselves were that they had an offline mode and online mode in Diablo II. This will probably be controversial for me to say. People will be like, 'I wasn’t mad!' But I was there at the time, and then I studied this for a living. It sucks when your friend or brother is online and he wants to join this game, but you realize you’re an offline character and he’s an online character, and there’s no way to transfer over because offline characters can be hacked and hex-edited to hell and back, right?"
There may be an argument somewhere that always-online is a fair demand in the connected world of 2013, but a decade ago we were all on 56kbs dial-up, clogging up the phone lines whilst we attempted to loot like crazy until someone else in the house had to make that very, very important call. Quite how always-online Diablo 2 would have worked back then is anyone’s guess, but I imagine most people would guess “pretty badly”.
Thanks, PC Gamer.