Game Theory: The Diablo is in the Details

Maximum PC Staff

Online communities need an outrageous outrage every once in a while to give the forum jockeys some opportunity to vent. The latest tempest in an A-cup is Blizzard's decision to give Diablo III an "always online" DRM system , meaning you need a live Internet connection to play the game. People were reacting to this with the kind of disbelief, betrayal, and fury usually reserved for something like Neville Chamberlain signing away Czechoslovakia.

The ones with the bigger vocabularies used words like "upsetting," "draconian," "archaic," "lamentable," and "just plain evil." The rest (a depressing majority) simply made reference to various feminine hygiene products and physically impossible sexual acts. The people complaining, mind you, only learned of the story because they're online all the time.


This concept schematic clearly outlines Diablo III's anti-piracy plan. The hooded figure represents you, the gamer, while the white glowy things are your ethernet cables, connecting you to Blizzard's always-online DRM.

Meanwhile, over in Azeroth, a raiding party stops for a pint, and conversation turns to this new dungeon-crawling thing. They collectively marvel that people can play it just like everyone has always played World of Warcraft—with a live Internet connection—only without the monthly fee! "Lucky ducks," growls a Worgen cordwainer.

Piracy costs the software industry about $50 billion a year, plus thousands of lost jobs that could have been generated by that revenue. Some countries have piracy rates of 95 percent. Losses to theft run at about 0.6 percent in the retail sector, and that number freaks out retailers so much that they spend millions on loss prevention. Imagine if 95 percent of the items in your local stores just walked away under someone's jacket.


Rage all you want, Blizzard's system is in place for a reason.

If you're upset that Blizzard, a company with a uniformly excellent reputation for quality and customer service, is developing a DRM system to protect its property, then don't buy it. The number of customers lost in a fit of pique will be dwarfed by revenues protected by the DRM itself. Even Ubisoft's horrible DRM system cut down piracy.

And, seriously people: Calm the hell down. If this is the biggest problem you have, then you don't have any problems.

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