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We're at a real bad crossroad here in the gaming industry. When it was first revealed that Diablo III would have always-on DRM even for the single-player (no offline, no pause, no ability to play anytime you want) it didn't set well with me. But we're just one site, and harping on the issue doesn't make the issue go away. At the very least I suspected more gaming websites would jump in and talk about how dangerous this would be for the industry moving forward (can you imagine all AAA releases and next-gen consoles having always-on DRM even for single player games?).
If you think that kind of 1984-thinking is far-fetched, think again. id Software's Tim Willits was gleeful at the idea of an always-on future. That if Blizzard was successful with Diablo III's always-on, it would be a nice form of DRM to follow suit in every major AAA release.
Well, despite video game journalism being utterly abysmal, there are a few who understand the power of their influence and how to direct it towards something good on the consumer's end. Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Nathan Grayson warns gamers about the future of always-on DRM, restrictive ownership rights and draconian security measures. He rallies gamers to keep shouting and keep the pressure on Blizzard. In other words, hold the line.
Back when the Mass Effect 3 ending fiasco started, a lot of people warned about another practice that EA was testing the waters with: day-one, on-disc DLC. After the quarterlies surfaced, sure enough EA's top brass were happy about the 40% attachment rate to Mass Effect 3's day-one DLC...absolutely ensuring that this will happen again, and again, and again.
Grayson argues that gamers should be demanding a product that they own, that an offline single-player is still an option, that this Orwellian future that Activision and EA are trying -- no, forcing us to buy via ransoming our favorite IPs and franchises, should not be tolerated.
I think we've let things go a bit too far, though. It looks a little sad from a realist's perspective because day-one DLC did succeed and it's looking as if people will eventually accept (but never enjoy) always-on DRM even for single-player games. Disc-locked content is also something that teeters on the brink of becoming an industry standard...so far we were able to thwart Capcom's efforts thanks to an outspoken community who came together to spread the word and speak with their wallets.
I think the majority of casual and core gamers would prefer if they could buy video games in the same manner that movies and music are purchased; that ownership rights should not be forfeited because it's a sequel we've waited years for, or that access rights should be forfeited because it's our favorite game company, or that single-player modes get extricated because it's a beloved franchise. I hope gamers can make it known that we still respect Blizzard, we still like Diablo, but this always-on future really needs to go.