Rant: Even If No One Listens, Let The Diablo III Review Bombs Fall

It's easy to sit back and scoff at "review bombing", as we saw last week when Blizzard released a broken Diablo III. Flooding Amazon to give zero stars to something others have called 10/10, sure, that's not a legitimate review. And people staging a sit-in aren't there to legitimately patronize a public accommodation, either. But a sit-in is a legitimate form of protest. And I think a review bomb is, too.

I say that even knowing that the hive-mind mentality of the internet, where every disappointment is a scandal and an outrage, there's a potential for an author, a publisher, a maker of creative work who commits an imagined slight, to get roasted by a self-righteous, torch-bearing mob. But that is not what happened in the case of Diablo III, even if the language and temperament of the review bombs carried the same indignant tone.

Diablo III is a good game, but on launch day in the US, it deserved what it got: A flogging not in its forums or over Facebook or on Twitter, 96 per cent of which is already crap complaining about something. The game got ripped in a setting where its potential customers were informing a purchase decision — Amazon particularly, Metacritic a little more indirectly.

Whatever you feel about the controversy of digital rights management, excoriating Blizzard for its insistence on an always-on Internet connection just to play the game — even in singleplayer mode — is absolutely justifiable if the publisher can't supply a working product once it's bought. In that situation, it has sold a broken game, and that deserves a terrible customer review.

Even if the problem has been solved since release, the review bomb is valid as a protest because it — like civil disobedience — calls attention the increasing powerlessness of the video gamer in his or her relationship with the industry and its agents — press included.

That frustration is magnified because we are in a very critical, very disruptive hour, where unknowns in new technology and distribution are opportunities for these publicly traded businesses to exploit before consumers can set — and enforce with their purchasing power — their expectations of fair conduct.

Always-on DRM, like on-disc locked DLC, underlines the one-way nature of the relationship. There's no way I can play Diablo III or anything like it without accepting whatever lawyered-up terms of use it imposes and the punitive controls it applies. At the end of the day, a gamer is placed between creative content he wants and for which he is willing to pay, and abusive anticonsumer practices that often are decisions far removed from those creating the content.

You can stand on principle, but it's like refusing to go to your team's favourite game because the stadium won't let you bring in food. All your other buddies are going, and now you won't? It's like refusing to go shoot hoops with your friends because the rec centre forces you to rent a ball instead of bring your own. You still love the game of basketball and want to play it; you don't want to be a jerk, especially as this stance reflects on your friends. But god damn, what is this bulls**t?

The constant internet connection that is required by Diablo III and other games is unfair in its structure and its implementation. And so, when it interferes with the private enjoyment of a product someone has purchased, publishers should expect to be treated just as unfairly — if not more — by their customers, too.

That is why the review bomb is valid.

Neither side should consider this matter to have blown over just because these servers are working. Blizzard, and its apologists, plainly think that being unable to use something for which you've paid full price, on the day you bring it home, just goes with the territory when it's a popular video game — one aggressively marketed for nearly two years.

That side is wrong and that attitude is unacceptable. And I don't care how good a game Diablo III is — and I enjoy playing my copy, for which I paid my own money, thank you very much. It deserves to have indignant graffiti scrawled all over its glowing reviews if it fails its end of a unilaterally imposed deal.

Hey folks, Something Negative is a rant. Love it or hate it, we all need to blow off steam on Saturdays. Let yours out in the comments.


Comments

    let it die.

    there were problems, yes. They've been resolved. Lets all move on and grow up.

      I started playing almost a week after release, 9.5/10 from me.

      DING! DING! DING! DING! Edward has it right, get over it. Everyone game has its first day blues, some worse than others.

      AT LEAST BLIZZ FIXES THEM ASAP, Where you wait for most companies 2 months! (Hah Dice, Dead Island etc).

      After all that, great game I'm enjoying it.

      Ubisoft and assassins creed are still evil tho right?

        Haha by default, along with EA

      No it's not resolved, I still get 3007 errors all the time. The only thing that could prevent it is to keep spamming the general chat or join a friend's play session. If I can't play it the way it is intended in single player mode, then it is a flawed product.

        and yousir must be in the small percentage (minus the korean's at this stage) who are still having issues. No one I know or myself have had one single issue.

        Check your connections.

          I'm still having heaps of issues. 300 ping is not acceptable. I click i click again because it didnt happen the first time and then eventually it does the action twice. or i press Q when critical health and i know i pressed it in time and yet i still die because the games connection doesnt recognize the action fast enough. therefore broken. If you dont notice these issues you must be just terrible at D3.

        "the way it is intended in single player mode".... hah... The game was built from the ground up to be played multi-player (hence the always online for the single player, it's not just for DRM, it's because of how they designed the client/server relationship), and frankly after you get through the story there is no reason not to play this game with other people.

          Other than... you know. Not enjoying playing games with other people. Which is common.

        +1
        I am getting errors and being kicked off out of the blue as well; very frustrating mid run; not to mention the crippling lag...

      Why? They are still having problems? How about the hacking thats going on? I don't entend on playing this multiplayer or using the auction house. And I got hacked! What BS is this, Blizzard enforce you use and authenticator. Why did they just include it in the box when it shipped. How about the rubber banding that's going on. It's just pathetic and they deserve all the low scores.

      No we won't. There ARE problems, they HAVEN'T been resolved, and you could argue the problems have just begun for gaming on the whole. This is not just about Diablo III.

      These are not childish "entitled gamer" rants. These are consumers who are unhappy with the basic functioning of the product they purchased - not whinges about gameplay changes or artistic direction.

      The last non game purchase I made was a 5.1 surround amp and speaker combo. It doesn't need to be connected to Yamaha servers in order to operate, because it is not required.

      Furthermore, if after I purchased it I found the audio lagged 400 milliseconds behind the action on screen because that's how Yamaha made it, I'd be back down to JB Hifi demanding a refund or product exchange - firstly because I'd be majorly annoyed with my purchase, but secondly and more importantly because it does not function as would reasonably be expected.

      And this is the problem with Diablo III single player - it does not function as would reasonably be expected.

      they have not all been resolved the game is still unplayable for a lot of people including me game drops out every 2 - 5mins with error 3007.
      since i've tried everything imaginable and so many other people on the forums are having the same problem it has to be something on blizzards end

      No. Server maintenance will still happen. Internet outages and bad connections will still happen. Gaming in locations where an internet connection is difficult to come by will still happen. It saddens me there are so many people defending this always online garbage. Just because it doesn't affect you doesn't mean it won't affect someone else.

      This game works fine for me but it's not going to stop me from being angry about it. It's not fair that some person out there paid money to sit staring at a log in screen. It's sure as HELL going to piss me off come the time when I can't play the game because of some stupid internet problem. Stop defending blizzard's decision.

      This rationalised apathy is the reason why Blizzard is the way it is today. The game is a failure in terms of innovation, dialogue and narrative, and delivery. This company is constantly rewarded by apologists, inept and unethical reviewers, and gamers that should know better. It's ironic that while you exhort everyone to move on and grow up, Blizzard hasn't matured at all - in fact it's taken a step back.

      It's only a game right?

    Whats resolved? Half the AH doesnt work all the time, the RMAH doesnt work at all, and on top of that, the game itself is 10 year old gameplay based on the idea to keep playing the same shit over and over to get slightly better shit than the last time you did it.

    The very idea that anyone would rate this greater than 6/10 sickens me.

      Yes, because god damn it that people have different tastes than you do. And god damn that publishers stick with 10-year old gameplay styles that have been highly popular and their fanbase wants kept in. Who do they think they are listening to what the fans want? /sarcasm

        The gameplay is barely like the old one, so the developers (not publishers :P) haven't really kept true to the original. Though the main thing I generally look forward to when playing a Blizzard video game is the glorious cinematics, a lot of people just have Blizzard hate; Which is understandable they have lost some good talent over the years and that merger with Activision is just cringeworthy.

    I am extremely torn by this whole thing. While the intense and full throated bleating on the internet has worn on my nerves, at the end of the day I have to agree with this sentence -

    "excoriating Blizzard for its insistence on an always-on Internet connection just to play the game — even in singleplayer mode — is absolutely justifiable if the publisher can’t supply a working product once it’s bought"

    Considering the budget and time that Blizzard has had on this project, some of the problems have been inexcusable. That being said, I think this whole shit show has been a supreme example of how the internet is an such a ridiculous echo chamber. You would think Blizzard had broken into people's houses and shit on their carpet, not delivered a somewhat faulty product. I can get mad about problems in a game, but at the end of the day it's a fucking game and complaining doesn't really get you anywhere.

      +35734oi572346597423980375903509874375293857245098723589 Perhaps give the game a week or so. It's just bound to happen. There's no way they can really real-world test their servers. It's gonna have teething issues. I guess I'm just that much of an eager beaver. Meh.

    Honestly, this is first world problems. It's taken what, like 10 years for this game to come out and people have to wait another 24 hours? Sure, it's not ideal, but I think terms like annoying, unfortunate or frustrating as opposed to corruption, anti-consumer greedy and broken. Sometimes my power goes out for half a day, sometimes my internet goes down for a day, sometimes a road is closed, sometimes I lose phone service, but guess what? That's life, there's no reason to turn into a white hot ball of anti corporate libertarian fury. The sooner people learn that not everything goes their way 100% of the time, the sooner that people learn that life isn't always fair, the better off they'll be. Sure there's a difference between being well and truly duped, wronged or ripped off but I'm not talking about that, I'm talking about life's little bumps. Life doesn't always go smoothly so you can either roll with the bumps or burn with righteous, self-entitled indignation every time you're inconvenienced.

      I didn't even buy the game, but I will say this:

      1. People paid for a product.
      2. The product came with unprecedented restrictions. These restrictions were put in place entirely for the companies benefit (if there is a real benefit for the user that couldn't have been opt-in/opt-out I'm yet to hear it) at the expense of a lot of functionality for the user , but whatever, because:
      3. They didn't meet a fairly basic obligation that if they're going to impose restrictions, they better make sure they at least provide the service.

      It seems to me a fairly good reason to get pissed off to me. The whole life isn't fair argument is intellectually lazy. Companies can only get away with what the market allows. If people want things to be fairer, they actually need to review bomb in situation like this.

        I completely agree. Review bombing is a great way to let the company know how you feel and it's great that we live in an age where we can interact more directly with the company. I'm not saying people shouldn't be frustrated or annoyed at this, not at all.

      +1

        Meant to be +1 to Scott, not Thom.

        +1 for this the product in a way was faulty, if this was a car or a something of value that everyone used there would be a product recall.

        Plain and simple yes i'm pissed off i can't play it properly, and yes i fucking hate blizzard with a passion. But i know it's ironic that i love the Diablo series to bits, but it's just a case of that i will just get my refund and wait for Torchlight 2 and Borderlands 2, or go back to Titan Quest and my other MMO's i have been neglecting waiting for this sub standard game to com out.

          Last year I bought a car, paid good money for it. It was really great, but the second day a hose split and I had to take it back. I wasted almost a whole day but they fixed it for me, like they should have. I was satisfied that they saw the problem and resolved it for me as soon as they could. Was I pissed off or fuming and did I hate the car yard? Of course not. That's life, sometimes things go wrong.

            That's a poor metaphor for what has happened here. The split hose was a necessary feature that failed due to random chance, this was an unwanted feature that failed because they didn't want to pay out for enough servers.. It more like if as part of registering your new car, the Government made you install a chip that allows them to follow your every movement. You don't really want the chip to begin with, but then you find out your car won't even start because of a fault with it. You'd be right to call bullshit.

              And besides, that's only one issue. There's high latency, drop outs, and access to broadband that all now have to be dealt with so Blizzard can take a cut of sales from the auction house.

            Thats an awful metaphor and a cowardly argument. This was a deliberatechoice on blizzards part not some act of god. Shit happends yes, but this "feature" was not something that just "happend". Blizzard made it happen knew full well what the out come would be like and did it anyway.

    I have to agree with the article, just because the servers are up doesn't mean that the various issues that many are still experiencing (such as the recent account hacks) and protesting their product is something every customer (right or wrong) has the right to do if they are unhappy.

    ^^Not to mention the fact that no one is forced to buy the game. While I do think that requiring internet connectivity for the single player portion of the game when online & offline could have easily been kept separate, is down right stupid, I'm sick to death of the pathological sense of entitlement displayed by so many people.

    Constructive criticism is healthy and needed for obvious reasons, but simply being abusive and acting like a child gets a person nowhere. The gaming community wants to be taken seriously and yet people instigate things like this and wonder why people see games as a medium for children - well I wonder why? It's because people act like children.

    It's not what you say, but the way you say it.

      "yet people instigate things like this and wonder why people see games as a medium for children – well I wonder why? It’s because people act like children."

      If it's as simple as that and people are going to judge an activity by a small immature group of their participants then I suggest that we reclassify sports as a pastime for children. Bars and clubs are for children. Courtrooms are for children.

        Hahaha - you forgot to add parliament is for children!

          We do classify parliament for children already...

    I agree wholehearted. I purchased Diablo III just last night and have been enjoying it thoroughly. However, even now after the issues have allegedly been solved, I still occasionally get kicked from the game for what it claims to be an 'interrupted connection', despite the fact that my internet is always on and has not once dropped out. Having a single player game that requires an always on internet connection is inexcusable, no matter what justification Blizzard and it's loyal team of apologist drones say. Yes it has multiplayer, but it's OPTIONAL. As is the Auction House. Diablo III is NOT an MMO and did not NEED to be always online. If Blizzard had designed the singleplayer to operate offline and online they could have both protected their players and auction house from cheaters, while simultaneously avoided problems like we saw last week where thousands of players are left with a completely dysfunctional product. And before anyone brings up the piracy thing, you cannot stop piracy. You just can't. It is inevitable that some people will pirate the game because that's just what happens. But you should never treat the paying customer like it's their fault for that, which is exactly what Blizzard (and other publishers/developers) have done.

    The lag is causing issues for me in the game. Most of the time not but some time yes and on the rare occasion it causes major issues in game. Then there are the server restarts that are an issue too.

    That said I knew this going in. Blizzard have me money already. I've have a lot of fun with this but the experience could be better for me.

    The game is out, shit went down. Can we get on with our lives yet?
    Or is every second article gonna be D3 related until its vomit inducing like Skyrim last year?

      Page views...

      You can move on if you like. A suggested first move would be to avoid clicking and commenting on D3-related articles.

    My whole problem with this is i am effectively renting the game. If I want to play my other games I still can.

    However what happens when the servers shut down in a x years time.

    What's to stop future deva doing this then canceling your access if you don't have Internet?

    We are on the brink of a new kind of relationship between Developers and Gamers.

    You've got games now that are privelged to have you play them. (Kickstarter titles, Indie games etc.)

    You also now have games that make it a privilege to play them. (Activision titles, Anything with rediculous DRM requirements.)

    Some people don't mind either, some people resent the second. Frankly the statement of "the only people getting punished for DRM is the people paying for it" has never been more correct. People need to stop and take a step back from this for a second. If this was any company other than blizzard pulling this stunt, would you still 'not care'?

    The only thing this experience has taught me is that I can no longer buy Blizzard titles Day 1 anymore because I cannot trust them to be the pinnacle of quality and attention to detail anymore. And I think this fiasco has a lot of people feeling the same way.

      +1, well said.
      Before Diablo III, I was against always on DRM in principle. Now having played Diablo III, I can see how bad it actually is. Last game I played ended with me being kicked out of the game due to a connection failure. I haven't touched it since.

    my poor lil monk still lags out at times, so bad i die in a whole bunch mobs in normal level. Haven't tried multi player because i don't want to be the laggy douche that gets a party killed. my connection is good for many a game but not D3 it seems. Seems like a server restart every time i log on. i got my copy cheap but damn i don't want to have to wait for the game to be on the backburner for some people to get a decent single player game going. And call me entitled but i pay money i want a product to work well.

    I approve of this article.

    Why should I suffer through 250-500 ms of latency when I'm playing singleplayer?

    Why can't I play singleplayer when Blizzard's servers are down?

    Why should I be locked out of my game, when I want to play singleplayer, because Blizzard hasn't bought enough servers?

    It's bullshit. All of those points I can understand, if I was trying to play MULTIPLAYER.

    I used to think gamers were just whiny little kids. But over the last 2 years I've decided we have every right to complain, because of how we get treated by the industry.

    In short, after playing it since release, a good game let down by some stupid things that shouldn't be an issue... Always connected to an online server and always playing on an online server based in the US even for a singleplayer game is one of the most stupid things ever - people getting disconnected from a single-player game is so laughably bad. The fact that this was most likely put in to combat piracy and yet a cracked version popped online hours before the servers went up and legit players could access the game, with a version that would work great for single player gamers because there would be no sever issues.

    In short - if you want to play this SP - go to the store and buy the game (or don't), throw out the game you just bought and get the cracked copy because it is going to cause you a lot less issues.

    "Flooding Amazon to give zero stars to something others have called 10/10, sure, that’s not a legitimate review."
    0/10 has been my experience of it, I can'te ven play single-player because of the lag.

    Please somebody point out a single board game where after you receive the box the company that made it can dictate when and where you get to play it .

    The 8th paragraph (starts with "You can stand on principle") is very true to me. I am the one out of our group of friends to not buy Diablo 3 because of the precedence it sets for these blockbuster games. I know it doesn't mean much to Blizzard, but I just cannot support them in any way here. I bought the Collector's Edition for SC2, but if the second episode requires always-on DRM, I'll have to boycott that as well.

    All this hoo-ha seems to ignore one fact and that is not everybody has broadband access. i loved the first two diablo games and am superkeen to play 3 but with no broadband access to my building I'll never get the chance - and don't bother telling me I could use wireless - even if I could afford the required plans the coverage is so patchy it's just not worth the effort. And no I can't move - it took six years to get my otherwise very pleasant public housing so I'm stuck where I am. All Blizzard's antipiracy measures have achieved is to FORCE me to look to pirate/hacked versions of their product, something I would normally never do. Blizzard can kiss my lily white arse before they see another cent of mine and I'm sure there are many others in the same situation who feel the way I do.

      I play it using mobile broadband and my experience is the same as those playing with adsl plus it only used up about 30mbs per hour so you dont have to get a massive plan. I think that a lot of the game mechanics are stored server side so i dont think that the cracked game will behave the way it should unless they've found a way around this...the actual game is great but it the drm does get annoying after a while...

    Dude... it's articles like this that have blown the whole launch way out of proportion. Yeah it was horrible and it certainly could have been done better but there is no way it could have been issue free.

      Then you didn't really get the point if the article. he's talking about precedents and consumer r rights, not error 37. And it IS a scary precedent. has anyone else tried Gaikai yet? The new service where they stream games like me3? No, you haven't, because even with adsl2 it tells me my connection isn't fast enough. Now if Australians can't use that stuff yet, and plenty of gamers travel, why should our purchases be restricted by internet coverage?

      Then you didn't really get the point if the article. he's talking about precedents and consumer r rights, not error 37. And it IS a scary precedent. has anyone else tried Gaikai yet? The new service where they stream games like me3? No, you haven't, because even with adsl2 it tells me my connection isn't fast enough. Now if Australians can't use that stuff yet, and plenty of gamers travel, why should our purchases be restricted by internet coverage?

    This just sounds like a half arsed attempt at justifying all the bashing of the game kotaku has done since launch

    Bought the game on release. I was shocked they managed to balls it up so much, given that wow product launches with their online presence are relatively smooth.

    Normally, I don't buy games digital at Australia tax pricing. I make an exception for blizzard, even though I release much has changed about them.

    My gripes are these;
    If you charge us more, we should get the same service...at least. How about servers closer to home?
    I'm annoyed that latency is an issue in single player. When it isn't green, it very noticeable and we get the same lip service on the forums in threads asking for feedback as we got in years of WoW.
    And lastly. If you expect me to be always online with your game. I expect your game to always be online. It's frustrating to come home from work, settled down for an evening for gaming...to not be able to play the game I purchased.

    Goddamnit this game sounds frustrating. Stupid Blizzard. You crazy bunch.

    Don't like always-on internet. The game itself seems really boring. Follow yellow arrow, wait for green tick in checkbox, ignore all loot because the real stuff is in AH. Wow.

    I quite enjoy the always on nature of this game. We all knew it was coming (assuming you paid ANY attention to the internet in the leading months before). I have a group of around 10 friends who enjoy gaming together, and we all love this. Move on, people. This is the connected age!

      Would an optional offline single player mode have affected your ability to get all connected with your friends?

      When you say connected age you mean the disconnected/lagging age. Having lag spikes in a single player game is unacceptable. Being unable to play a single player game because Blizzards servers are down is unacceptable. Paying an extra 33% than US customers to get an inferior experience is unacceptable.

      Because you enjoy playing the game only with your friends doesnt mean that these are not valid complaints.

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