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

    I love the hypocrisy of some of these comments. I can almost assure you that if this was, say, EA, the majority of people wouldn't be going "Hey, it happened, get over it". There would be pitchforks at EA's door and calls for boycotts for other EA games. Blizzard enjoys special status and gamers let them get away with stuff other companies wouldn't be able to get away with. Sure - it may be because of a good track record, but the always on single player is simply just garbage, it denied the most loyal of players (the ones that bought the game day 1 the ability to play for a few days, dampening the fun and frustrating people. Even now, we get single player with extra bonus lag. It's such an extreme measure for the sake of saving a few sales due to piracy. It, simply, treats you like a criminal and worsens your game experience for the sake of saving sales. How much worse the game is varies between players - but simply, it's undeniable that the DRM makes for a worse experience.

    People saying "they complained for 24 hours, but the issues have been resolved..." are either ignorant or trying to support the game for some reason. Most players in Australia, are still getting disconnects, getting a reasonable amount of lag, having servers shutdown in prime time. So no, the issues have "not been resolved" and probably won't be for some time...

      That in itself is an ignorant comment. most players in australia? Are you really saying server downtime is an 'issue'? Most online games have their maintenance period during prime Aussie hours, but thats because we are a small percentile of players when compared to the rest of the world.

    I've pretty much ignored the Diablo 3 rants, but tell me this. If some other company sold 3.5 million units and none of them worked as intended, imagine the shit storm that would ensue. Just because it's a computer game in this instance, we are supposed to take it lying down?

    Downloaded the digital release, I like it, I'd rate it around 8/10. There are things that need to be fixed but that is expected. I'd like commodity purchases in the AH to work again, It's been down for almost 3 days. Inferno is close to impossible for melee, Difficult for ranged. Classes need adjustment, Rare items need adjustment to make them superior to blue items. Champion and Magic packs need 'special ability' adjustments to avoid the descecration/arcane/shield/horde stupid combos. etc.

    Lots that needs to be fixed but still a good game regardless. Buy it.

    Just buy the pirated NES version of the game. NES doesn't even know the internet exists.

    I could be comatose and play this game. That's how pathetically easy it is.

    I give it a zero, logged in today to find my lvl 20 barb deleted, was able to restore him as he was my only character but all my gear/gold was gone - and I hear this is happening quite a bit - well done blizzard just another reason this always online bullshit is a fail.

    Look I'm on inferno already enough said with the BS deal with it
    It's a game yer came with errors but they will fix and lag I lagged too but even still remember 4847477282838383 ppl r online of course it going to be spiked or lag
    I'm quiet happy with my gaming and character farming good etc and with auction house does need to be fixed bit buggy also remember game only been out for 2weeks

      It shouldnt matter how many people are online when you are playing a single player game.

    I buy games that let me play when I want to play. And they play without lag.

    Sure it may not lag "much" for many people, but Diablo 2 doesn't lag at all in single play or LAN.

    If this is the future, count me out.

    Oh and "First World Problems" isn't an argument. Its a lazy way to undermine an argument. The same argument could be applied to ME3's ending, Fallout 3 being an FPS, or even the PS2s jaggies.

    It seems like every other night when I go to play diablo, two to three hours minimum of possible game time is removed by servers being down. These are 'upgrades' to the servers or something, I don't know, nor care.

    I do care that I've paid for the game and I've had many problems for it.
    Fuck you blizzard

    I had my fair share of problems, but they are sorted now. Every now and then my server region changes and I think i've lost my char but a quick setting change fixes that. if you are still having problems why not just get Max Payne to tie you over? There are plenty of recently released games to keep you happy for now.

    Isnt the gold auction house still more or less broken??

    I don't understand all of this outrage. Certainly people knew the game was always online when they bought it? The AH was a thing before release, none of this is new. Sure its a bit inconvenience - I myself have had launch errors and been disconnected due to maintenance during my peak hours of play but that's what I knew was coming because I did my research and realized the implication of always-online etc.

    What people really need to realize is that - they knew what they signed up for when they bought the game, patches, maintenance, balancing, expansions. the whole gambit of online gaming. That's what makes it great. If you don't like it you really shouldn't have purchased the product in the first place after all it is not like blizzard have tried to hide from you that the game was always online?

      My assumption was that you would need to login to the game to access it, and hey, thats fine. Slightly annoying, but I can live with that. But lagging me out in a single player game is ridiculous. I never imagined that I would be quite literally playing an online game. I imagined that there would be a bnet login to get into the game, but past that, assuming I was playing single player, that I would be playing the game locally. You know, kind of like EVERY OTHER SINGLE PLAYER GAME EVER MADE.

      Honestly, why are you defending lag in a single player game? How is this even defensible?

        Not defending it - just stating the facts. You knew you had to have an always online connection to play. They definitely could have implemented it better - IE. being connected to log in and then playing locally once verified as you suggest however that is not the case and they probably have a perfectly sound business reason to have structured it that way.

    The error 37 is a connection error and unless u have dial up then u shouldnt have that problem. Where do u guys live anyway? dont u have proper infrastucture. Even asian countries like ThaiLand and Vietnam still can play. Get a job, make some money and afford better internet connection rather than leeching off ur parents and complain about it. DAYEEMMM!

    The problem that people couldn't play it on launch day is never going to be resolved. It's over and gone. The black stain will remain forever in the minds of the folks who handed over their cash and were told "Sorry, we can't uphold our end of the deal. Not today, maybe not tomorrow. You don't have a choice anyway, so just keep trying. Hey, check out our new statue, isn't is cool?"

    As a 99% solo player I will buy and play this game when the following conditions are met:
    1. My internet connection is 99.99% reliable and only disconnects/slows down once in a blue moon, and is cheap enough to be used consistently by us mere plebs.
    2. The connection is fast enough to handle any large data spikes that may be caused by being constantly connected to a game I am playing.
    3. The latency between my computer and the game servers is guaranteed to be of a comparable level to that of other first world countries.

    All of this is of course impossible in this day and age, although it is my opinion that one day in the not too distant future these points will be addressed for most of the first world nations. When that time comes "THEN" will be the time to introduce games with single player components that require an always-on connection and not a day before.

    Diablo 3 is shit and we all bought it, that's it. Look at the picture of the youngest of the prime evils headlining this article, see that? That's how Diablo is meant to look.

    There are a million things wrong with D3. But we've all bought it now and 'voted with our money' as far as the industry see's it so let's just accept facts that the gaming industry is now a crude facsimile of the previous entertainment industries (Movies/Hollywood) that we've also all grown to know & hate. Gaming sucks now. My recommendation? Play old games. Can't beat Quake or BroodWar :)

    - A long time Diablo fan

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