Blizzard has confirmed that the PlayStation 3 version of Diablo III will not only allow for offline play (something that most PC Diablo III owners would have killed for back when the game launched), but it will also support local multiplayer for up to four players.
“It [local multiplayer] is so much fun,” Joshua Mosqueira, Diablo III‘s lead designer, told Penny Arcade. “On a big couch, with four of your friends, drinking beers, it’s almost like a party atmosphere. There’s this really awesome social moment with a legendary drop, and everyone is cheering. It feels very collaborative.”
Confirming the ability to play Diablo III offline on the PlayStation 3, Mosqueira noted that the team “really felt that playing offline, and being able to move your console from the living room to your bedroom, which a lot of players do to play, is really important,”.
While I’m sure that offline bedroom play was the single major factor in Blizzard’s decision, I would also venture to guess that the publisher realized that forcing an online-only version of the game into the console market is a bad idea. It was not exactly one of the selling points for Diablo III on the PC, and my guess is that PS3 gamers would have been even less enthusiastic about being forced online.
The decision to let Diablo III be played offline required the team to make further changes to the game, specifically, the removal of the real money auction house. “The ecosystems on the PC and console are very different,” Mosqueira explained. “There were some technical reasons we had to go with offline, but again once you have an offline experience, even if we wanted to bring in the auction house, it just becomes problematic. How do you validate? How do you make sure there is no duping or any of that stuff?”
Overall, I doubt many Diablo III fans are going to complain much about the missing online-only play and real money auction house. Both of these “features” are two of the biggest complaints against the title, and their absence will likely be viewed as a huge improvement.
One word of caution though, all of this has only been confirmed for the PlayStation 3 version of Diablo III. Mosqueira specifically stated that they are not talking about the PlayStation 4 at this time, and the game is “not necessarily a Sony exclusive”. While this is not a confirmation that online-only and the real money auction house will return in non-PS3 console versions of the game, but it certainly leaves the door open for the possibility.
At any rate, the first Diablo III console footage was also revealed this past week, and is available for your viewing in the embedded video below. I think we can all agree that it looks very much like Diablo III.