Diablo 3: The Unavoidable, Always-On Social Network?

Does Diablo 3’s unavoidable social openness signal a dismal future for MMOs – or gaming in general?

Diablo 3 has been out for a week now – and unquestionably, the big topic of all that time has been its intimate, unavoidable ties to both online play and a social network that could reasonably be described as “intrusive”. Whilst the seamless online multiplayer has attracted a fair bit of praise – when it works – the ubiquitous “Error 37″ and the total lack of any “private” mode for Battletags have come in for a lot of criticism – and so far, have also torpedoed the game’s Metacritic rating thanks to protest reviews.

Today we’re rounding up the last few days’ writing on Diablo’s online nature – and few people have many positive things to say about it:

  • Kurn weighs up the practical problems of the Battletags implementation, both in general and for her personally, and suggests some sensible modifications to the system“What if a potential applicant whispers me through RealID when I’m raiding with Choice on the baby pally? What if some random person on the forums sees my post and decides to hop into my Diable 3 game? If I give out my info, which would be really helpful in terms of recruitment, for example, then I’m potentially changing my gaming experiences significantly. All of a sudden, I’m much more available to a set of people I don’t really have ties to.”
  • Cracked.com’s John Cheese writes about how he fears Diablo 3 represents gaming’s future“The single-player version of this game should have never been hosted on a remote server to begin with. I and millions of other people bought this game because we love the Diablo franchise, and we have been waiting for 12 years to jump back in and throw fireballs at evil. There is an absolutely enormous amount of us out there who couldn’t give two flying fucks about an auction house or a chatroom or even the ability to play the game with our friends.”
  • The Renaissance Man asks why the mainstream gaming media is defending Blizzard over Diablo’s online issues“Blogs lit up, the forums caught fire, reddit upvoted “error 37″, and perhaps most damaging, unhappy consumers crushed Diablo III’s user score on Metacritic, driving it down to a 410 as of Friday night. A lot of the gaming news sites seized upon this, painting the unhappy consumers as “whiney-snot-nosed-brats” in some of the most sardonic, virulent, and condescending editorials I’ve ever seen.”
  • Rock Paper Shotgun argues that Diablo 3’s experience depends on immersion, exactly what online issues deprive it of“Eventually, about fifteen minutes later, it admitted the connection was gone, and restarting yet again put me back at the last checkpoint, one dungeon and an entire map ago. And nothing – absolutely nothing – interesting lies between me and where I’ve reached twice before.”
  • And Dechion offers advice on how he has tweaked his chat settings to offer a pseudo-invisible mode in which to play Diablo 3“For now the best I can do if I want to be alone is simply do the electronic equivalent of putting my headphones on and tuning out the world. I may come across as rude, or socially inaccessable, but it’s the only workaround Blizzard left me with.”

What do you think? Are you fine with Diablo’s online nature, or do you find it annoying or intrusive?