Blizzard, I’m Breaking Up With You
Stay a while, and listen.
We’ve been together for such a long time. More than 12 years, I think. I remember when we first met playing Starcraft in high school. I played a lot of Starcraft. A LOT. The Zerg were always my favorite – just look at the arms on those hydralisks! They just wanted to give you a hug. I lived for the swarm in those days. I admit my first copy of the game was a bootleg my friend made of his copy, but I loved it so much that as soon as I could I bought it for real, and then jumped at the chance to buy Brood War when it came out.
In college you introduced me to Diablo 2. I have many fond memories of you and I and a gaggle of my closest friends playing over the college LAN (hey, this was the year 2000 – LANs were new to most of us). We skipped more classes because we just had to get that item identified than any of us would care to admit. To this day, even with a whole new group of friends, we all remember the rush with a new character to get the Horadric Cube, the cow level, and Wirt’s Third Leg. We didn’t even mind the carpal tunnel we all got from spam-clicking. I’ve bought the game three times over the years, because I am clumsy and scatterbrained and lost my first two copies, but the game was so good I wanted to keep playing. Hell, I want to play it right now.
When World of Warcraft came out, I joined in. I’ve been playing for something like 6 and a half years. Every so often I look back on old screenshots and smile the way someone would looking at pictures from their 16th birthday party. I can’t imagine my life without some of the people I’ve met playing that game. Some of my best friends are people I’ve never met in person. I championed your cause with every expansion, and tried to see the upside in changes I didn’t like. I’ve seen it all, Horde and Alliance, and hated every time I had to cancel my subscription for a month because of money.
I even bought all the d20 tabletop RPG books that you did with White Wolf’s Sword & Sorcery division (except the Monster Manual, because it’s always out of stock). I ran a campaign for a year and a half about the cleansing of Felwood. I became so enamored with the lore of the world that I went back and bought Warcraft 3 and played through that.
I am telling you all this, Blizzard, because I want you to see that I loved you and I was loyal to you. I’ve given you so much of my time and money, and I didn’t regret any of it. Until Starcraft 2.
You see, Blizzard, I loved playing LAN games with my friends. And I loved being staff at a convention with a LAN room. We bought 8 additional copies of the original StarCraft to put on our machines, Blizzard. We didn’t use our own copies, and neither did our patrons. These were 8 copies dedicated solely to letting people – most of whom owned the game at home – get in some face-to-face play (and the accompanying trash-talking). Hell, I used to LAN party Starcraft with my roommates or anyone else I could shanghai into playing. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat in the same room as your opponent. But in StarCraft 2 we couldn’t do that anymore. We can’t even let people bring their own machines with their own authenticated copies, because we need a constant internet connection and we can’t get that in our hotel. The worst part, Blizzard, that you rectified *somewhat*, was that I could no longer play with my Australian friends. Thankfully, they can now jump on the American servers, but I can’t go over there. It’s not ideal, since it’s several of them making the region jump instead of just one of me, but I was willing to put up with it.
But now there’s this business with Diablo 3 having no offline mode, no LAN support, and a real-money auction house system. The auction house bothers me. No, I don’t intend to really use it, but I want you to consider some things, Blizzard. By putting this system into place, you’ve pretty much guaranteed that a lot of the good items will only go up for real money. Let’s face it, if you had the choice to put up an item you’re pretty sure would sell for real or fake money, which would you choose? And maybe this is your plan: in the end, everyone except the people playing on hardcore mode will be using the auction house with real money, and you’ll be raking in the dough from all those fees you’ve attached to it. You probably don’t even care about all the possible problems with item ninjas that will make grouping up with new people a shot in the wallet as well as the dark. I could kind of live with it, I suppose, because those fees will probably help keep the servers running, but I’m not sure you’ve thought through all the repercussions of this decision – or worse, that you have but you don’t care.
No LAN support just makes me sad, but the real issue here is no offline play. At all. Why? You’ve said over and over it’s because you’re trying to prevent cheating. You’ve tried to tell us it’s to give us all freedom – but by giving us this “freedom” to use all our characters on Battle.net, you’ve taken away our decision in the essential thing. Even still, that’s not the real reason, is it? You’re trying to prevent piracy. You’re trying to prevent people going over to their friend’s house, installing the game, logging in once with their account, and then their friend plays for free offline. I understand that. There are other ways to go about it and still let us play offline, though. I’ve seen several good suggestions, and I’m going to toss mine into the ring: What about a limited number of computers that can be authenticated using one account, like iTunes does it? Say, two or three machines? Yes, you might still get pirated copies, but since the only multi-player will be over Battle.net, if those people who loved single-player want to play with their friends they’ll have to buy the game anyway. And who knows? That one pirated copy might turn that person into another me, who bought all your games, gave you subcription fees for years and years, and even bought associated merchandise like t-shirts and toys.
I can pinpoint when this all started, Blizzard, and it was when you got into bed with Activision. That hussy has turned you into someone else, and it’s someone I no longer want to be with. So I’ve let my WoW sub run out, and I don’t think I’m going to buy Diablo 3. I’ll probably still play Starcraft 2 – that is, unless Activision convinces you to make Battle.net a subscription service, and I think we all know that’s where this is going.
Goodbye, Blizzard. Thanks for the fun times, but you’ve changed so much, and I no longer love you.Tagged with: blizzard • diablo 2 • diablo 3 • it's not me it's you • live for the swarm • starcraft • starcraft 2 • video games • world of warcraft • WoW d20