At an event in Irvine on Tuesday, Blizzard told us that Diablo 3 will be online only. Without an internet connection, you can't play the game at all.
Senior producer Alex Mayberry says there were many reasons for the decision, including the prevention of cheating. Since players can buy and sell items for real money , any way of cheating to make or acquire better ones would be very lucrative - and unfair.
"It's the trend that we've been moving towards," Alex says. "Obviously StarCraft 2 did it, WoW authenticates also. It's kind of the way things are, these days. The world of gaming is not the same as it was when Diablo 2 came out."
I check with him to be absolutely sure: there's no way to play without being online? "There's no offline play, you have to be connected to the internet."
The anti-cheat reason makes sense, but why not permit an offline mode and keep it separate from the online game?
"We thought about this quite a bit," says 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. 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."
If you're finding this reasoning weak, you're not alone. The more believable reason to deny players any kind of offline mode would be to prevent piracy. I asked Alex if that was the reason.
"One of them, yes."