One week ago, Blizzard opened the gates to Sanctuary, and a record-setting 6.3 million PC gamers have already clamored in. Yes, Blizzard proudly announced today, Diablo 3 is now the fastest-selling PC game of all time, after more than 3.5 million copies were gobbled up in just 24 hours (not including the 1.2 million copies doled out to WoW subscribers). It’s great news for Activision-Blizzard, but even better news for PC gamers… though it’s mixed with a sizable pinch of potentially bad news. Here’s why:
So Hot Right Now
Like the NFL, the gaming industry is a copycat league. Look no further than mega-FPS Call of Duty and its many, many imitators launched since CoD 4: Modern Warfare took the console world by storm. For Diablo 3 — a PC-exclusive, old-school, top-down, action RPG to sell more than 6.3 million copies in a single week is phenomenal. Love it or hate it, a game selling millions of copies in days is fantastic news for PC gamers because it shows how strong we are. It’s the type of performance that will undoubtedly turn the heads of executives at all of the industry’s publishing houses, and give them serious cause to rethink their PC gaming strategies. This is a big piece of pie that they’ll all want a slice of.
Coupled with the recent PC gaming explosion on Kickstarter, it’s crystal clear that there is a massive, unserved audience of PC gamers that wants new versions of the old-school PC games and genres we love. Diablo 3 serves as the exclamation point at the end of this sentence: PC gaming is stronger than ever!
Those projects Tim Schafer and Brian Fargo pitched to publishers repeatedly without success, but found gamers willing to open their wallets on Kickstarter? I predict that in light of these undeniable numbers, those types of pitches will be welcomed, and greenlit like it was the 1990s. Adventure games, isometric RPGs, tactical shooters, strategy games, and more were considered outdated and unattractive to publishers mere months ago. Now? There’s a powerful reason to give them another look.
For PC gamers, that means more of the franchises and genres we love will very likely see an unprecedented resurgence. I for one would happily open my wallet to play a new Bard’s Tale, a new Titan Quest, a new Unreal Tournament, a new Warcraft (that’s Warcraft, not World of Warcraft), a new Grim Fandango, a new System Shock, a new Star Wars: TIE Fighter, a new Syndicate (top-down perspective, thank you very much), and many more. PC gamers are serious about this, and we’ve proven that you can take that to the bank.
Sentenced To The Online Dungeon?
But it’s not all rainbows and kittens. In light of Diablo 3’s success, Blizzard may very well have also cemented a new standard for an always-on internet requirement, even for single-player games. Despite being highly publicized and highly controversial, requiring us to sign in to play certainly doesn’t appear to have cost Blizzard as much as some of us might’ve hoped. Even though paying customers couldn’t get on Blizzard’s servers to play a single-player game on launch day, I fully expect various forms of DRM to come back in force. That’s a pretty dark lining to this silver cloud.
For now, though, let’s focus on the positives: Thanks to Kickstarter and the unexpectedly massive success of Diablo 3, it appears we’re now entering a PC gaming renaissance on top ofthe already-existing PC gaming renaissance brought about by the free-to-play gold rush. Always on or no, we’re going to see some exciting things in the future.