As reported earlier, Blizzard scheduled a press event last Tuesday giving the media access to Diablo 3. Because everyone was under an NDA, the info couldn't be released until today. That said, a good number of details are starting to make their way into the stream including the game's required constant Internet connectivity and an auction house dealing with real cash.
But first, Monday brought the unsurprising news that Blizzard's highly-anticipated action-RPG will require a constant Internet connection. Naturally this DRM method will help fight against a flood of pirated versions that could potentially flood torrent and Usenet channels. But Blizzard has also chosen this route so that player characters can move from single-player to multi-player seamlessly.
In essence, Diablo 3 cannot be played offline.
"We thought about this quite a bit," said executive producer Rob Pardo. "One of the things that we felt was really import was that if you did play offline, if we allowed for that experience, you’d start a character, you’d get him all the way to level 20 or level 30 or level 40 or what have you, and then at that point you might decide to want to venture onto Battle.net. But you’d have to start a character from scratch, because there’d be no way for us to guarantee no cheats were involved, if we let you play on the client and then take that character online."
"Now, that doesn’t mean you can’t play a game by yourself – of course you can," he added. "You can go into and start any game that you want, you’ll just be connected to the Battle.net servers, and we can authenticate your character."
In addition, Pardo revealed a list of Battle.net features that will be embedded in the game, requiring a constant Internet connection. These include: persistent friends list; cross-game chat via the RealID system; persistent characters that are stored server-side; persistent party system; player-versus-player and public game matchmaking; dynamic drop-in/out for co-op; larger item stash, shared among all of your characters; the auction house; achievements and detailed stat-tracking; the Banner system.
So no offline mode, no bots and no mods. Is there any good news stemming from the press event? Certainly. Joystiq reports that Diablo 3 will feature two in-game auction houses to sell items from player to player: one using in-game gold and one using real-world cash.
According to the report, the latter auction house will be like an "eBay for Sanctuary," allowing players to put items up for sale in each of the game's various regions around the world. Blizzard will take a fixed fee out of the eventual sale for listing and selling the virtual item. Players can either keep the cash in their Battle.net account to use on other Blizzard-related items, or cash out and pay a set percentage-based withdrawal fee. So far Blizzard hasn't revealed what third-party financial institution it plans to use.
"Ultimately, players want it," Pardo said in regards to the cash-based auction house. "If Blizzard doesn't do this system, I'm not so naive to think that [third-party auctions are] not going to happen. In the past we've really taken this hardline stance of, we will just try to stamp it down in every place that we can. And we could take that approach. But I actually think that with Diablo, it actually will end up being a good thing, at least something that players will be excited about. It really is something that a lot of players are already looking to do."
Stay tuned for more as the lifted NDA releases the Diablo 3 flood.