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Why Online Single-Player Games Are A Bad Idea

firefly2003firefly2003 Los Angeles, CAPosts: 2,555Member

After over a decade of waiting, I’m excited as the installation bar fills to 100% and the Play button pops up. Diablo III is finally out, and I’m ready to settle in for a sleepless night of demon slaying and loot collecting. After I get my feet wet, I may decide to invite some friends to come fight at my side, but tonight I want to see the game on my own without any distractions. However, the forces of darkness have conspired to end my fight before it begins. Before I pick up my first piece of gold, I’m stopped by the gatekeeper of the login screen. Whether the servers are full or just plain not working, I can’t play the game. I’m not alone. Millions of players are at my side banging at the gate demanding entry, and we’re all being turned away. 

Thanks to several seemingly separate server-side issues, Diablo III has been unavailable to play for extended periods of time during the first hours of its public release. I’m going to skip the entitled recriminations against Blizzard for ruining my fun – there are plenty of those to go around these last couple of days. More likely than not, the same players who are the most pissed off about the shaky start for Diablo III will be the ones who will be pouring the most time into the game once everything is running smoothly. However, Blizzard’s unfortunate server problems during the launch of one of the year’s most-anticipated games throws the situation into stark relief; forcing gamers to log into on an online server to play single-player games is an awful idea. 

At this point, most dedicated gamers have a way to play online. Many do just that on a regular basis, blasting their friends in an online arena, or wandering a dungeon in an MMO. So what’s the big deal about asking them to take the next step to be online all the time? For one, it means that we as gamers no longer own the games we play. By purchasing a game like Diablo III, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying the right to use a product at the discretion of its owner. It’s the equivalent of leasing a car for an indeterminate period of time, during which the owner can withhold the use of the car at any time without penalty. The car owner can take the car back once the car isn’t as popular as it is today; at some point the servers for online games shut down, and that game is no longer available for play. Few, if any, other products or media in your home have this same restriction. Most that do are because online usage is absolutely essential for operation, like a computer anti-virus program or a streaming TV service. 

But let’s step past semantic arguments about ownership rights in the 21st century and confront the more central, pressing issue. Whether because of maintenance, server problems, or other issues, online games aren’t always available. And it's not always a server side problem; internet outages from your service provider can cut you off from any game that requires you to play online. No matter where the problem originates, it means we can’t play the title we paid for when we want to. Contrary to popular belief, most adult gamers I know have precious little free time to enjoy their hobby. If the only time you have to play is between putting the kids to bed and finishing up that presentation for work, and your chosen entertainment won’t work, it won’t be long before you choose a different form of entertainment. It’s one thing to give players the option to play a game online so they can choose to interact with others, but a profoundly different thing to make a game unavailable unless you’re online, even if you’re playing by yourself.

The move toward online-only games is also one more barrier we’re putting in front of new players before they can get involved in “serious” gaming. Like the opening night of a movie, the best marketing in the world for a new game is one person telling a friend or family member they should try it out. What is the message currently being relayed to non-PC casual game players about Diablo III? Should they take the plunge to try out this big new fantasy game? Or should they instead worry about what accounts they’re going to have to set up first, whether the servers will let them play online, and if it’s worth their time to try and figure it all out? Online single-player games send the wrong message to consumers. It’s the equivalent of a gated community – a members-only club that demands you sign a contract before getting to tour the grounds. 

While it’s probably the last thing on the minds of most consumers, online games also present fundamental challenges to the chronicling of gaming history. Twenty years from now, will it be possible to play Diablo III in its original form? Will it be possible to play the game at all? This has been a dilemma facing the world of MMOs for over a decade; it’s sad that it is now also something we have to worry about regarding some single-player games.

So why do it? Why court the very public and vocal displeasure of the gaming community, and risk the sort of flub that Diablo III has faced? From a publishing and development perspective, there are growing concerns that must be addressed. The challenge of piracy is undoubtedly an issue. Online-only games also cut off the possibility that it will be sold used. From a consumer perspective, it can be argued that online-only server-side games also assure consistency and integrity of the game; if a character is stored on the server, there’s no way a player can cheat or mod the content, and unbalance the play experience for other players.

All those arguments are well and good, but they just don’t meet muster. There are better and less obstructive ways to confront piracy. If used game sales are considered an issue, a one-use code at purchase is enough to halt the practice. And if there really is deep concern about maintaining the integrity of the online play experience, then give players the choice to opt in or out of keeping their character online. At the very least, the player should be entitled to create an offline-only character to utilize and mod as they see fit. 

Diablo III is a test case, and it’s just the right one for a publisher like Activision Blizzard to prove its point. Diablo III is so deeply anticipated and long awaited that gamers are willing to put up with a lot of nonsense in order to finally try it out. As a result, it’s a game that will use be used to reinforce the case that online-only single-player games can succeed. But those same game makers should take note; angry gamers don’t forget the hoops you make them jump through for a game, and even the most beloved franchises aren’t immune to a mass exodus. There will always be someone else out there willing to give players an easier, less stressful, and most importantly, offline option as an alternative.

http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2012/05/16/why-online-single-player-games-are-a-bad-idea.aspx

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Comments

  • WarmakerWarmaker San Diego, CAPosts: 2,231Member

    I've always thought the basic idea of having a constant internet connection for ALL gameplay was a terrible idea.  Yes, for multiplayer, it's natural.  But for single-player?  That's asanine.

    I even have problems with those 3rd party programs that you purchase and run a game through.  Stuff like Steam.  They supposedly feature offline support, but I've run many problems with Steam in particular over the years to run in offline while travelling abroad.

    Yes people, believe it or not, there are places out in the world where fast internet connection isn't possible.  Or *gasp* no internet at all.  Oh noes!  Too bad for some of you that do some extensive travelling to far away places, and can't use those cool games that are on your laptop.

    I do miss the simple days where you acquired the game via download or a physical CD, and it was YOURS, and you were free to play it anytime, anywhere, as long as your computer can run.

    I've never acquired a pirated game in my life.  All my games are legit and I buy lots of games in the course of a year, yet game companies are setting out to make life more miserable for legitimate purchasers.

    "I have only two out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates, US Marine Corps, Soissons, 19 July 1918)

  • AusareAusare adamstown, MDPosts: 850Member
    Diablo 3 not solely a single player game. It is a community based game. Blizzard would have to make a lot of changes to have offline play that protects the community. Locks to keep your single players character and an loot from touching the multilayer side. So you can not cheat to make a better character or items to sell in the ah...item hacks a
    nyone from d2.
  • lappaslappas BelgravePosts: 67Member

    +1

     

    Intelligent thread by the OP. Clearly he has no right to be on these forums lol.

     

     

  • BloodaxesBloodaxes ZabbarPosts: 2,650Member Uncommon

    I'm surprised no company tries to make their single player with online features as sega's phantasy star universe.

    You can play single player without logging or play it online or coop (I think) by logging in the multiplayer mode.

    It's neat, doesn't annoy people that want to play single player only and the single player/multiplayer is the same game so no extra work needed.

    image

  • WarmakerWarmaker San Diego, CAPosts: 2,231Member
    Originally posted by bloodaxes

    I'm surprised no company tries to make their single player with online features as sega's phantasy star universe.

    You can play single player without logging or play it online or coop (I think) by logging in the multiplayer mode.

    It's neat, doesn't annoy people that want to play single player only and the single player/multiplayer is the same game so no extra work needed.

    Ubisoft is a company that forgot the memo about not trying to piss off legit customers.

    "I have only two out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates, US Marine Corps, Soissons, 19 July 1918)

  • fadisfadis funkg, GAPosts: 469Member

    Again... if you don't like it - don't buy it.

     

    Blizzard obviously has their reasons - most of which are financial - and they have every right to run things the way they want... and they will do so... until finacial reasons make them change their minds.

     

    * And this has nothing to do with pissing off legi customers... what WILL piss off legit customers is if Blizzard stops making top games.  As long as their games are the best... some % of people can happily pitch fits and boycott or whatever... and they are easily replaced by new gamers. 

    And in the end... most of those boycotters will be right back playing anyway.  When you make the best games - you get to make the rules!

     

     

  • spizzspizz BlackForrestPosts: 2,587Member

    Well, people did already critisize DMR where you need an internet connection. With Diablo 3 this got even more complicated and I avoid this, reason why I didnt buy Diablo 3. Same goes with Steam, you are just dependent on servers and a company, not even holding a physical copy in your hands...no thx. I dont support such business models.

  • pierthpierth San Antonio, TXPosts: 1,503Member
    Originally posted by fadis

    Again... if you don't like it - don't buy it.

     

    Blizzard obviously has their reasons - most of which are financial - and they have every right to run things the way they want... and they will do so... until finacial reasons make them change their minds.

     

    * And this has nothing to do with pissing off legi customers... what WILL piss off legit customers is if Blizzard stops making top games.  As long as their games are the best... some % of people can happily pitch fits and boycott or whatever... and they are easily replaced by new gamers. 

    And in the end... most of those boycotters will be right back playing anyway.  When you make the best games - you get to make the rules!

     

     

    QFE- we all knew long ago that D3 would require an internet connection to play at all. While the original post is lengthy and well thought-out simply by purchasing D3 with this knowledge lets Blizzard know that you're cool with online only play with the only voice they listen to- $$.

  • AvatarBladeAvatarBlade BucurestiPosts: 770Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by spizz

    Well, people did already critisize DMR where you need an internet connection. With Diablo 3 this got even more complicated and I avoid this, reason why I didnt buy Diablo 3. Same goes with Steam, you are just dependent on servers and a company, not even holding a physical copy in your hands...no thx. I dont support such business models.

    At least with steam, you authentificate and can go in offline mode after. If it was like this for the SP portion of the game, I am sure there wouldn't be such an uproar.

    People who bought the game, knowing in will have this system, are complaining in vain. They already sent Blizz the message that they are ok with the system, by buying the game. Only thing they can do now is not buy the expansion, if they really want to stick to the principle of not liking this system in the end.

  • WizardryWizardry Ontario, CanadaPosts: 8,423Member Uncommon

    First of all Blizzard games are not a good bar to judge genres or the buying crowd because Blizzard fans will buy anything they sell them.I bet 90% that bought D3 were already planning to buy it no matter what ,years before it even became reality,that is not the game selling itself,that is media hype and marketing and being a fanbois.

    As for a single player game making it to a MMO,that is not a problem at all,it is a case of how the game is delivered as a MMO.If you release a Single player game as a single player game and just add the internet,that is extremely LAZY and cheap anmd i would not support ANY developer that tries to pull that off.I look at the over all content and what exactly a developer did to "warrant"the internet use.

    Ultima wa a single player and did a decent job,FF series was of course all single player and did an amazing job at delivering an MMO atmosphere.I am sure there are many more that just slip my tired brain ,bottom line it is ALWAYS about the developers "EFFORT".

     


    Samoan Diamond

  • GraeyGraey Jacksonville, FLPosts: 218Member

    Good Morning

     

    I get what people are saying when they state if you don't like it don't buy it. Your absolutely right on this statement, a little simple but yes it makes sense.

     

    I bought diablo 3 as well, and at this moment they are doing a server restart or something along those lines. For what I'm not sure and for how long I don't know as well.

    Then it really hit me...7+ years from now I won't be able to play this game (or will I?) as a pick up and go type thing. I have many computer games that I install and play. The last single player game for me was Titan Quest. The only thing I don't like about that game is it doesn't have dedicated classes, other than that I love it.

    Now on the horizon is Torchlight 2. I think it's single player and multiplayer as well and to be honest If I can play it off line and online when I want and doesn't have the restriction as D3 then I'm switching over.

    I'll play D3 till TL2 comes out as I want to level my Witch Doctor to cap. But with this single player-online thing it just..idk gets to me. I can see this as a jumping off point for far more games. Till the point where we aren't owning any of them. That's where I stop.

     

    I just don' t approve of this method and as such I'm not going to purchase Mysts of Pandaria as well simply I can't get behind their reasoning.

     

    I have respect for Blizzard but I think this is where I as the consumer say it's not worth it. Even for D3.

     

    V/R

  • sadeyxsadeyx leicesterPosts: 1,553Member

    Having them offline means that they are exploitable.

     

    If criminals and pirates didnt exist then your argument might hold some weight.

  • NitthNitth AustraliaPosts: 3,684Member Uncommon


    Originally posted by Ausare
    Diablo 3 not solely a single player game. It is a community based game. Blizzard would have to make a lot of changes to have offline play that protects the community. Locks to keep your single players character and an loot from touching the multilayer side. So you can not cheat to make a better character or items to sell in the ah...item hacks a
    nyone from d2.

    Have you not played neverwinter nights? very easy to do.

    There is a server vault and a local vault

    Local vault holds all your single player character and data.
    Server vault holds your character and data stored on remote server.

    You can only use your multiplayer character on the server vault, you cannot upload your single player character to the server(there were other rulsets but this is simple)

    You can however download your server vault character to play in offline mode if you so desired but it would be a 1 way trip.

    Completely circumvents cheating and Has flexability for both parties.

    Piracy? you still needed to authenticate for an online experience.
    Single player you did not.

    image
    TSW - AoC - Aion - WOW - EVE - Fallen Earth - Co - Rift - || XNA C# Java Development

  • dllddlld GöteborgPosts: 540Member Uncommon

    Actually you never own a game just the license to use it so that never really changed..  you are not free to do as you please with any game wich pretty much defines the difference between owning and merely allowed access.

     

    but atleast non online required games theoretically gives you a license for life where in this they can pull the plug at any moment without you being able to do a damn thing about it making those bits of data on your harddrive or disc utterly useless.

     

    Not a fan and it's indeed a bad idea, luckily diablo was never on my list of to buy games but diablo 3 isn't the first Ubisoft did the same with many games and they have more or less been defeated (I think all their games only require a one time activation now) but now diablo 3s success is going to bring it back into the acceptable zone.

  • stragen001stragen001 ReadingPosts: 1,720Member

    Companies with excessive DRM or requiring a constant internet connection are just pissing off legitimate customers, like the previous poster said. They are more concerned with making sure that people dont get an illegal copy of their game, than making actual customers happy.

    This is wrong.

    When the DRM interferes so badly with a legitimate customers experience that they stop playnig the game because of it, things have gone too far.

    I would say that about 75% of the people that get a pirate copy of a game WOULD NOT have purchased it anyway, the other 25% are people that are just pirates. If people want to buy a game, then they will buy the game. If they are not sure, then they might pirate it........

    Remember demos for single player games? what ever happened to demos? They used to help people make their mind up.

    The reason why I really hate this whole online authentication thing though, is what if I want to play the game I bought in 10 years time, when the servers have shut down and the company has gone bust? I wont be able to. There are a select few games that are THAT good, but I still semi regularly play the original civilisation, and UFO: Enemy Unknown because they are such great games. With online authentication I just would not be able to do that. 

    Cluck Cluck, Gibber Gibber, My Old Mans A Mushroom

  • gaeanprayergaeanprayer Somewhere Out There, PAPosts: 2,320Member Uncommon

    "By purchasing a game like Diablo III, you are no longer buying a product, you are buying the right to use a product at the discretion of its owner. It’s the equivalent of leasing a car for an indeterminate period of time, during which the owner can withhold the use of the car at any time without penalty."

    These words. They are wise.

    "Forums aren't for intelligent discussion; they're for blow-hards with unwavering opinions."

  • snapfusionsnapfusion San, CAPosts: 954Member
    Originally posted by Ausare
    Diablo 3 not solely a single player game. It is a community based game. Blizzard would have to make a lot of changes to have offline play that protects the community. Locks to keep your single players character and an loot from touching the multilayer side. So you can not cheat to make a better character or items to sell in the ah...item hacks a nyone from d2.

    Thank you captain obvious for ponting out some of the reasons Blizzard went with this model.  Yes we understand it was BUILT that way from the ground up.

    This is an argument against designing a game that only supporst this model when clearly the community is divided between the facebook mentality of gaming and those that prefer to disconnect themselfs from the world and dive deeply into a single player experience with no distractions.

  • Paradigm68Paradigm68 New York, NYPosts: 884Member Uncommon

    I was uploading a bunch of pics to flickr and decided to play some D3 while i was waiting for it to finish and I noticed I was rubberbanding. That's when I realized that D3 didn't just require a constant connection to play, but that I was actually playing online. Its essentially like playing WoW on a server of one. And that is just stupid for a singleplayer game. 

    At least I know that since there are private servers for mmo's, hopefully there will be a point where we can set up private servers locally and avoid all the problems.

  • WarmakerWarmaker San Diego, CAPosts: 2,231Member
    Originally posted by Nitth

     


    Originally posted by Ausare
    Diablo 3 not solely a single player game. It is a community based game. Blizzard would have to make a lot of changes to have offline play that protects the community. Locks to keep your single players character and an loot from touching the multilayer side. So you can not cheat to make a better character or items to sell in the ah...item hacks a
    nyone from d2.

     

    Have you not played neverwinter nights? very easy to do.

    There is a server vault and a local vault

    Local vault holds all your single player character and data.
    Server vault holds your character and data stored on remote server.

    You can only use your multiplayer character on the server vault, you cannot upload your single player character to the server(there were other rulsets but this is simple)

    You can however download your server vault character to play in offline mode if you so desired but it would be a 1 way trip.

    Completely circumvents cheating and Has flexability for both parties.

    Piracy? you still needed to authenticate for an online experience.
    Single player you did not.

    BioWare.  Back in the day when BioWare was a truly, unquestionably Grade A+ dev house.

    "I have only two out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (First Lieutenant Clifton B. Cates, US Marine Corps, Soissons, 19 July 1918)

  • RockhideRockhide Chicagoland, ILPosts: 155Member

    Between DLC microtransactions and what Diablo III does, this is the future of all PC titles made by the major commercial developers IMO.  People may give Diablo III a pass because of Blizzard's intentions of making it an online community-based game, but it also promotes tacking on an "integral" multiplayer feature to slip always-online DRM in the back door.

     

    Anyway, while many people might agree it's a bad idea that has the possibility of greatly inconveniencing the player, the fact of the matter is that 3.5+ million people are expected to play Diablo III this year.

     

    The number of people who won't purchase the game because of its online requirement is negligible (As in 'one.' Me.).

     

    Realistically, voting with your wallet will do nothing. The vote was cast years ago when players decided they'd tolerate more than just EULA restrictions to their gameplay. Complaining about it now is pretty disingenous IMO...the crazies warned the gaming community that this was coming and time and again we told them off. As the saying goes, you made your bed, now you have to lie in.

     

    Besides, if Diablo IV came out tomorrow with the exact same online requirement, everybody would be in line at 'Gamestop' waiting for the doors to open (quality not withstanding).

  • anemoanemo Posts: 760Member Uncommon

    Simple reason to not buy for myself.   They'll be unplayable for the next few years while I'm in the NAVY.

    Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

    "There are still vast swaths of our planet's surface in which it's surprisingly easy to lose things. Even a ship the size of a large building." Richard Fisher

  • jpnzjpnz SydneyPosts: 3,529Member
    Originally posted by Rockhide

    Between DLC microtransactions and what Diablo III does, this is the future of all PC titles made by the major commercial developers IMO.  People may give Diablo III a pass because of Blizzard's intentions of making it an online community-based game, but it also promotes tacking on an "integral" multiplayer feature to slip always-online DRM in the back door.

     

    Anyway, while many people might agree it's a bad idea that has the possibility of greatly inconveniencing the player, the fact of the matter is that 3.5+ million people are expected to play Diablo III this year.

     

    The number of people who won't purchase the game because of its online requirement is negligible (As in 'one.' Me.).

     

    Realistically, voting with your wallet will do nothing. The vote was cast years ago when players decided they'd tolerate more than just EULA restrictions to their gameplay. Complaining about it now is pretty disingenous IMO...the crazies warned the gaming community that this was coming and time and again we told them off. As the saying goes, you made your bed, now you have to lie in.

     

    Besides, if Diablo IV came out tomorrow with the exact same online requirement, everybody would be in line at 'Gamestop' waiting for the doors to open (quality not withstanding).

    The 'online requirement prevents me from buying' doesn't ring true for most people now due to Steam.

    Gdemami -
    Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  • TheocritusTheocritus Gary, INPosts: 3,731Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by Warmaker

    I've always thought the basic idea of having a constant internet connection for ALL gameplay was a terrible idea.  Yes, for multiplayer, it's natural.  But for single-player?  That's asanine.

    I even have problems with those 3rd party programs that you purchase and run a game through.  Stuff like Steam.  They supposedly feature offline support, but I've run many problems with Steam in particular over the years to run in offline while travelling abroad.

    Yes people, believe it or not, there are places out in the world where fast internet connection isn't possible.  Or *gasp* no internet at all.  Oh noes!  Too bad for some of you that do some extensive travelling to far away places, and can't use those cool games that are on your laptop.

    I do miss the simple days where you acquired the game via download or a physical CD, and it was YOURS, and you were free to play it anytime, anywhere, as long as your computer can run.

    I've never acquired a pirated game in my life.  All my games are legit and I buy lots of games in the course of a year, yet game companies are setting out to make life more miserable for legitimate purchasers.

             Well said...Ive had some issues over the years with Steam also....

  • jpnzjpnz SydneyPosts: 3,529Member
    Originally posted by Theocritus
    Originally posted by Warmaker

    I've always thought the basic idea of having a constant internet connection for ALL gameplay was a terrible idea.  Yes, for multiplayer, it's natural.  But for single-player?  That's asanine.

    I even have problems with those 3rd party programs that you purchase and run a game through.  Stuff like Steam.  They supposedly feature offline support, but I've run many problems with Steam in particular over the years to run in offline while travelling abroad.

    Yes people, believe it or not, there are places out in the world where fast internet connection isn't possible.  Or *gasp* no internet at all.  Oh noes!  Too bad for some of you that do some extensive travelling to far away places, and can't use those cool games that are on your laptop.

    I do miss the simple days where you acquired the game via download or a physical CD, and it was YOURS, and you were free to play it anytime, anywhere, as long as your computer can run.

    I've never acquired a pirated game in my life.  All my games are legit and I buy lots of games in the course of a year, yet game companies are setting out to make life more miserable for legitimate purchasers.

             Well said...Ive had some issues over the years with Steam also....

    If you purchase something digitally, is it safe to assume that you have an internet connection?

    Gdemami -
    Informing people about your thoughts and impressions is not a review, it's a blog.

  • QuicksandQuicksand Aurora, COPosts: 604Member Uncommon
    Originally posted by lappas

    +1

     

    Intelligent thread by the OP. Clearly he has no right to be on these forums lol.

     

     

    +1

     

    Good stuff :)

    www.90and9.net
    www.prophecymma.com

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