Blizzard's decision to require a constant connection to play Diablo III understandably upset some pockets of the Internet. However, the company is sticking to its decision, saying that it will prevent the extensive hacking of Diablo 2.
Wilson cites two problems with an offline mode, one of which is the ease of cheating and hacks. "Essentially we would have to put our server architecture onto the client so that it can run its own personal server," director Jay Wilson told PC Gamer at Gamescom. "Doing that essentially is one of the reasons why Diablo 2 was a much easier game to hack than obviously any other game you'd mention and so it's what led to extensive cheating and item dupes and things like that." He says the community was vocal about fixing those cheats, and the team is "not really going to be able to do better than Diablo 2" without an online requirement.
The item duplication in Diablo 2 seems to be of particular concern to Blizzard, most likely because of its new real money auction house. Selling in-game items for actual money is only viable if those items are rare through the game systems themselves, so any duplication glitch would completely break the auction house economy.
The other problem is, basically, that Blizzard wants to encourage online play, which they see as the "right" way to play the game. "So for us we've always viewed it as an online game - the game's not really being played right if it's not online, so when we have that specific question of why are we allowing it? Because that's the best experience, why would you want it any other way?"
Wilson also responded fairly bluntly to users who may have an unstable internet connection. "I mean, in this day and age the notion that there's this a whole vast majority of players out there that don’t have online connectivity - this doesn’t really fly any more." He points out that his hotel alone has nine public wi-fi networks. "So the notion that there's just tons and tons of people out there that aren't connected - I don't think is really accurate.”
Finally, Wilson tops off his response with some light snark. "An online experience is what we want to provide for this game," he said. "Every choice you make is going to omit some part of the audience. Some people don't like fantasy games, so should we have not made Diablo a fantasy game, because some people don't like that? Some people don't like barbarians. Should we not have put a barbarian in the game because some people don't like it?"
Blunt responses aside, his concerns over the item duplication echo what we had previously heard when online technologies VP Robert Bridenbecker expressed surprise at the reaction to the online requirement. Item duplication seems to be one of Blizzard's major concerns, and that's amplified by the new auction house, so it's unlikely this decision will be overturned anytime soon.