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One of the biggest travesties in gaming was the launch of Diablo III; it wasn't because there weren't enough copies to go around or there was a shortage of access keys. The reason Diablo III's launch was such a mess was because of the always-on DRM. According to Blizzard's CEO, they would have handled things a bit differently if they knew Diablo III was going to be that popular.
Yes, they're pulling the popularity card instead of fessing up and saying that the always-on DRM royally screwed them out of a lot of respect and credibility given that the main reason gamers couldn't play Diablo III, even in single-player, was because the entire game is tied to Blizzard's servers, meaning that they've always got their hands clinching your balls whenever you want to play the game.
In an interview with Gamesindustry.biz [via Arabic Gamers], Blizzard's CEO Mike Morhaime laments the poor launch but doesn't blame it on the ridiculous DRM measures, instead he says this...
It would be so helpful in advance to know how many people are going to want to play a game. Because we could plan things out a lot better: we can make sure we have enough capacity, we can buy the hardware that we need. The Diablo III launch exceeded out forecasts by an order of magnitude; we were very far off. We outsold our full-year forecast in the matter of a week.
Really? Really?! This was the most pre-ordered PC game in history and they didn't think anything of that? Really?!?!
You'd either have to be incompetent or a liar to stand by that kind of reasoning.
What's worse is that the “credit” he gives to the team to “increase capacity everywhere” didn't really pan out so well in other regions. If you recall, more than a month after release the French consumer advocacy group, UFC-Que Choisir, was still hammering Blizzard into late June to fix their servers due to poor connection rates for French gamers. I'm not even going to bother going into the mess that was the South Korean launch of Diablo III. In short, Morhaime is hiding behind a PR white lie as some sort of after-the-fact damage control.
Also, Morhaime should have simply fessed up and admitted always-on DRM -- for what was largely a single-player ARPG with co-op and PVP functionality -- was the reason the launch was botched. Had consumers been able to play offline or via LAN there would never have been a “launch fiasco”, period.
With a high player drop-off rate and stained reputation within the core gaming community, you would think Blizzard would be a bit more humble about the Diablo III launch disaster. But I guess old habits die hard. It'll be very interesting to see what the sales will look like for Mists of Pandaria, though.
You can check out the rest of the interview over at Gameindustry.biz