I think Diablo was the first computer game where I actively played with other people. Well I’m sure there were BBS games along the way but this was the first where I knew who I was playing with. Lots of polish, fun combat and just a well thought out game. Diablo 2 was a vast improvement, Warcraft 2&3, Starcraft – all games I played the crap out of. World of Warcraft was like that too, just addicting in the polish and content.
Bioware (or previously Black Isle) is in a similar boat but for single player games. They were amazing stories with solid systems to back them up. No one doubts that Mass Effect 2’s story was epic but the systems supporting it were iffy at times.
Today I can look up the mobile phone app store and find games for 5$ that are innovative and can keep me busy for 10-30 hours. There are free MMOs to compete with, games with epic stories, systems and content. If you’ve played Plants vs Zombies at all, then you can see what a smaller company can do when they have vision.
Blizzard and Bioware are losing their vision and becoming corporate in their activities. When at first you could see the passion ooze from their games, now you can clearly see that’s it’s just automation and basically a cash draw. Cataclysm brought nothing new or fun to the game, just more time sinks. Dragon Age 2’s zones were limited to a city and the choices were boiled down to half of it’s predecessor.
After having watched some Diablo 3 videos (the NDA is lifted, so check you tube) you can see that the game is near identical to Diablo 2. I have trouble seeing why it would run ahead of the pack if not for the name of the company rather than the quality of the game (which I hear is ho-hum). Compared to other dungeon runners (hello Torchlight!), there just isn’t anything here that says play me.
I have an Xbox360 and a PS3. I haven’t played an Xbox game since Batman 2 years ago and my PS3 has a collection of 4 games total. Why would I pay 60$ for trash when I can pay 5$ for something fun, exciting and time consuming?
I am losing faith in the industry day after day in that the spirit of the game is gone and the spirit of the almighty dollar is taking its place.