Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Launch That Couldn't Be Stopped

The most peculiar thing happened earlier this week. Millions upon millions of video gamers ran into a DRM (Digital Rights Management) issue, which is oft maligned and treated with grave sincerity when matters of properly purchased software become rendered inert by their arcane forces. DRM requiring the user to have an active internet connection has been seen as the hell spawn of corrupt business practices. Many a game publisher has been guilty of indulging in this practice, and they were all soundly put in their place by the angry barbarous shouts of the gamer horde. All of them except

Diablo III

There were certainly a bold few to stand up to the challenge of upholding the traditionalist values of gamer society, which say specifically to shun all DRM that makes a game unplayable. On the launch of Diablo 3, millions of gamers attempted to connect to and were rejected. The ripple of "Error 37" messages blew up Reddit and echoed off Facebook. But these weren't the actions of an enraged mob focused on a publisher, like every previous attempt at a similar DRM. People were mad, because they really, really, really wanted to play Diablo 3.

When the dam finally broke, and the people were allowed to enter Hell once again, the protest died. No one cared about the online DRM, Diablo 3 was just too good. While this lingering knowledge of obeisance to future publisher treatment is still stuck in every gamer's head that participated in the launch event, the tiny whispers of doubt and fear are just a minor annoyance. If Activision-Blizzard can do it, so can EA and Ubisoft. What if the success of the Lord of Terror reinvigorates these old gamers' adversaries. All new forms of heavy DRM could be let loose upon the masses, hidden in the gorged bellies of beloved franchises.

Assassin's Creed 3 is perched on the horizon. A bit foreboding, but let's dive away from this topic for a moment.

The actual game, Diablo 3 that is, seems simple and dumbed down at first glance. Once one delves into the multiple difficulty layers they discover the various abilities they've been sampling have a subtle range of flavor, like the difference between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. The goal is to get fat on loot, but the game must be paced and enjoyed, lest one suffer a heart attack.  SPOILER a lot of people may have already suffered at least a headache from the ending. END SPOILER All in all, the game is quite delicious and fulfilling. It was well worth the long wait and even the snooty service.

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