North Texas Daily

Gaming nostalgia

Gaming nostalgia

March 07
17:56 2013

Man, I love “Diablo II.” The 13-year-old hack-and-slash fantasy has regained its place as my primary free time escape, and I don’t know how it was ever knocked off.

It’s got everything– variable character classes, genuine unpredictability and a difficulty level that actually challenges. Everything that seems to have been filtered out of gaming after “The Great Monetization.”

Ironically, the movement seemed to begin with Diablo’s big brother at Blizzard Entertainment, “World of Warcraft.”

After “Ultima Online,” “EverQuest” and “Asheron’s Call” established online multiplayer games as a viable market, a litany of games popped up in the early ‘00s to take advantage of it, and “World of Warcraft” made them all obsolete.

Its built-in audience and smooth gameplay made it the best-selling PC game of 2005 and 2006, and its subscription numbers are only now starting to come down.

The thing with online multiplayer games is you don’t pay for them once. You keep paying for them every month. Most games cost about $15 monthly and fall somewhere in the $40-$50 range.

This means you re-purchase the entire game every three months of actual playtime, give or take.

Blizzard saw that cash cow and took it in the wrong direction. Over the years, “World of Warcraft” has gotten dumber and dumber and dumber.

Daily quests, menial tasks that dupe the gamer into doing them every day because nobody wants to waste the session, have become more and more prominent.

The latest expansion subtracts talent trees and adds kung-fu pandas. The hope is, the easier and more addictive the game is, the more subscribers Blizzard will get.

Compare this to the unchanging, subscription-free “Diablo 2.” Talent trees continue to make every character unique, and randomly-generating maps keep the experience fresh. Enemies swarm from all directions, and there are no daily quests anywhere.

Sadly, there’s no end in sight, as money continues to drive PC gaming further away. “Diablo 3” might have been the final coffin nail, as it introduced a “real-money auction house,” where players can pay actual money to each other for in-game items with Blizzard taking a cut.

This used to go on all the time under the radar, and it was terrible for the games it took place in because it made crying to Mommy for a bigger allowance a viable, effective tactic to get the upper hand. Blizzard has just made legal the kind of nonsense that used to be reserved for trading card games.

Don’t even ask about console games. In that arena, you’re charged $500 every few years just to have an up-to-date system, not including the $60 games cost while they’re still popular.

As games are churned out more and more rapidly, keeping up becomes more and more of a non-option. It won’t be worth the investment unless I spend every waking moment playing.

Fortunately for me, “Diablo 2” still hasn’t gotten old. Because with the cash-crazy direction video games have taken since its release, nothing new is fiscally viable in the long run.

Joshua Knopp is a pre-journalism sophomore. He can be reached at hillbutton@gmail.com.

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