The fastest selling PC game of all time, Diablo III has skyrocketed to having 10 million copies sold since its release two months ago. The game had sold over 3.5 million copies in the first 24 hours on sale. While that number does not include the 1.2 million players who received Diablo 3 as part of the World of Warcraft Annual Pass promotion, the 10 million one does.
During an earnings call, Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime accepted that they experienced some challenges during the launch of Diablo III. "Due to the unprecedented influx of players, a number of service issues arose that we needed to work around the clock to address," he said.
He went on to say, "The vast majority of these issues were ironed out within a couple of weeks of launch. As I mentioned in a letter to players recently, we're not satisfied with just breaking launch records. We want people to play and enjoy Diablo 3 for a long time.”
More than 10 million players
Morhaime talked about improvements to the game. "We've already made a number fixes and updates including the activation of the Auction House, which provides a convenient way for players to trade items with each other. The Diablo team has also been working on improvements to end-game rewards and having a player-versus-player mode, which we hope will enhance the value and longevity of the game."
Morhaime also talked about a further drop in subscriptions for World of Warcraft to 9.1 million as of 30th June, down from 10.1 million at the end of March. The game’s highest point was in October 2010, when there were 12 million subscribers worldwide. Morhaime said, “the majority of declines at the quarter coming from the East. Historically, we have seen usage decline towards the end of an expansion cycle. We saw a similar drop in subscribers in the months before Cataclysm, followed by a substantial number of returning players around the Cataclysm launch. We're also seeing that a number of players took a break from World of Warcraft to play Diablo III.”
Diablo III and Blizzard have been surrounded by many controversies. Long before the game was released, Blizzard made the unpopular decision to necessitate a constant Internet connection to play the game, even in single player mode. The controversial Real Money Auction House was theorized to be one of the main reasons for the 'always online' requirement that has been criticized by almost everybody. Recently, Blizzard admitted that the real reason for the 'always online' requirement wasn’t to keep their precious Real Money Auction House economy safe, since that hardly seems to be working. Instead, the reason was the digital rights management (DRM).
Last year, IGN had asked Rob Pardo, executive producer of Diablo III about this DRM and he says it was implemented to prevent cheating. Here’s his explanation, “In both Diablo and especially in Diablo II, I think the intuition for a lot of people when they're playing the game is 'I want to make my character offline away from that scary battle net environment. And then once I have this powerful character, I'll jump online.' But the problem with that concept is we can't really detect if they're cheating. They might have the capability to hack their character and things like that, so at that point we can't really allow that character to be in the battle net environment. Then they're going to have to restart their character, which is exactly what happened in Diablo II, which was really unfortunate.”