Destiny is no Sim City, or Diablo III for that matter.

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Bungie has big plans for Destiny, their sci-fi first person shooter (FPS) extravaganza Activision is releasing in 2014. Yes, everyone always says their FPS will be the bestest with the mostest, but Destiny has a planned ten year life cycle and a design that will incorporate elements from massively multiplayer online (MMO) games, ideas that so far haven’t been successfully implemented in a FPS. Bungie’s track record with Halo is good enough that the promise of doing it right this time excites gamers.

On the other hand, Destiny also plans to be an online-only game, where you can only play when Bungie/Activision says you can play. The thought of another digital rights management (DRM) scheme messing up another game is certainly enough to fill a gamer with dread considering recent disasters, but things need to be put in perspective here.

Diablo III, for example, was a questionable choice for online-only. Yes, you can play Diablo III with other players, but I certainly hated doing so, and I’m sure I’m not the only player to log onto Battlenet and set up private games just for myself. It’s annoying that when the internet goes down, so does my game, but at least Blizzard’s servers are reliable, with glitches few and far between. My own ISP, however, does have problems. Theoretically, I could interact with other players, and I did multiplayer a few times, but it really should have been my choice to play online, instead of it being foisted upon me by a pirate-paranoid company. DRM here was a bad choice, but at least it didn’t ruin the game, there were minor inconveniences at best.

On the other hand, SimCity as online only is just plain stupid. Sim City was never a multiplayer franchise, and doesn’t really make sense as such a game. You’ve got a whole city to manage, you don’t have time to deal with other players’ shenanigans unless the city management is ridiculously simple (in which case nobody would play the game). Multiplayer should have been an option at best, instead of crammed down my throat. Toss in EA actually lying about the necessity of the game being online only (a hack that came out days after release allowed players to happily play offline), unreliable servers, and many programming/design problems and it’s no surprise John Riccitiello, the head of EA, stepped down shortly after launch. While the online-only aspect might catch the brunt of the blame for SimCity‘s failure, it’s clear there’s more to this disaster than just a (single) stupid idea.

Now back to Destiny, which hopes to be an MMO FPS. There’s simply no way to have an MMO that isn’t online, it’s the “O” in MMO, after all. Shooters certainly can be played offline, but the bread and butter of every FPS franchise has been the ability to go online and shoot other players. There are players who have logged hundreds of hours of Call of Duty, for example, and still haven’t played five minutes of the single-player campaign. Personally, I got bored after the first two solo missions. So, in this case, being online only is not a questionable choice like for Diablo III, or part of a series of stupid decisions like for SimCityDestiny has to be at least 99% online anyway, so there’s no harm in making it 100% online.

While I can accept Destiny being online only, I do have my concerns about this form of piracy prevention. One of the sad facts of the modern gamer’s life is he no longer owns his games. Forty years from now, there will be no closets or garages opening up with playable EverQuest or Asheron’s Call inside, no way to share with my grandkids any of the good times I’ve had with many a game, and more and more games are becoming unplayable without the publisher’s continuous permission. While I can’t approve of piracy in general, it’s clear those guys (or at least their skills) will be needed in the future, to unlock the games that vanished when the publishers went bankrupt…or hopefully soon, a better solution will be invented so corporations can be less afraid of not making enough money.

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  • HiredN00bs

    There’s a difference between a game requiring some kind of online authentication and a game requiring a network connection because the gameplay itself is built around an online infrastructure. Destiny is very much the latter. All signs point to an unprecedented level of server support for Destiny or any console game yet published, for that matter. I’m sure Activision and Bungie like that it also serves their anti-piracy interests, but that isn’t the ultimate purpose behind this shared-world shooter requiring persistent internet connectivity.

    If a game doesn’t truly require online connectivity for its intended functionality, it is a disservice to the paying customers to potentially limit their usage of a product they purchased in a misguided effort to inconvenience people that steal software. Stop treating your customers like crap, publishers.

  • Doom

    Agreed, but since we’re on their servers anyway, whatever they use for antipiracy isn’t (hopefully) going to make it harder for paying customers to play the game.

  • Abdz

    No-o-o-o-o chance I’m gonna try this, and I am the type of person who went and bought a 360 just to play and finish the halo story, so I’m a fan of both halo and spending my money frivolously. But ye… I’m done with forced DRM and mmo-type games in general, they just suck, every single one just completely blows. I’m not even talking about the server and other technical issues, which are plennnnnty.

    The structure of these type of games is just clumsy and stupid. It’s like you’re a toddler and you’re given these differently shaped objects, and you have to match which object fits into which hole and you’re doing this while other toddlers are watching you and you’re thinking to yourself, why are we doing this? We’re not bloody toddlers, at least I’m not. Then one of your fellow toddlers starts crying at you to look at him put the objects into their respective holes and you go again, why the fuck am I here? And then several months pass and you go to yourself, did I have fun? Nope, it just feels like I wasted the time I was gonna waste and that’s honestly just a stupid feeling, I never once had such a feeling when I was playing NWN2, Oblivion, Fallout3, Warcraft3, so why do I feel like this when I play these type of games?

    Maybe its cause like you said Rick, I don’t own the game or the progress I’ve made in it like I do with these other games, this is so bloody true. I love having savefiles on my computer, its awesome cause it belongs to me, I can do whatever I want with it, I can even share it if I wanted, or after I finish, I can make 2 copies of the same file and cheat my ass off on one of them. Well whatever I am now experienced enough with these type of games to know what the warning signs are and to just stay the hell away, I feel sorry for other gamers that are gonna fall into this trap.

    Like even Dota2, which is the opposite of these games, in the sense that its feel is 95% a multiplayer game and 5% a single player, is gonna eventually be released as a offline single player/LAN as well, so no excuse for these other games. The annoying thing is, and I KNOW at least some of you do it too, I have to download a crack or cracked installer for every single game I buy now and I’m just sick of it. Like you are literally forced to rely on the awesome pirates cause they’re the only ones that can give you what you payed for, even though once I got the crack, I store it on a remote HDD never to be seen again since steam just works so well, but still… what if there were no pirates? I would be screwed every time the internet goes down, which doesn’t happen often but when it does… I become slightly miffed

  • Doom

    I certainly have a bit of MMO burnout as well…it bugs me sometimes that I can’t log onto Asheron’s Call and check out my old character, but that’s just how the world is.

    It’s funny you mention Steam, but that “gotta be online to play” annoys me no end as well. Even if you want to play in “offline mode”, first you have to get online and certify that you want to play in offline mode–jeebus, if I could get online I wouldn’t need to play in offline mode. I keep one computer in perpetual offline mode, just so I can play “my” games whenever I bloody well feel like it.

  • Abdz

    Yep Doom, I agree, its a bit stupid and perhaps even pointless as the potential for abuse against steam with being able to play offline without signing in, isn’t really as high as you would think, at least I don’t think so. You still wouldn’t be able to abuse steams download service and there would be absolutely no point in not running steam when you launch you computer as steam has the auto-update feature, which again makes it pretty sweet. The only potential downside to having full offline-mode is that you can maybe abuse the system and steams bandwidth by sharing your steam account with friends, if steam actually monitors day-to-day IP’s of accounts, which I’m pretty certain they do. However people who are willing to do that can already abuse all of that already with cracks, which just returns us to the login to play feature as being completely pointless.
    What I’m hoping for, with steam, is the option to “login” with my phone or something, or more out of the box options like that rather than to be completely at the mercy of having internet access, cause lets face it, public wifi isn’t exactly safe now is it.

    Also being at the mercy of a disgruntled employee if you should so happen to write something in the forums that might make said employee unhappy, isn’t appealing either, and we’ve seen this happen many many many times with EA and their origin in recent months. Unfortunately all these arguments can also be made to justify the existence of pirates. Where once they were despised as thieves, all the gaming industry has achieved while combating them and leaving us, the paying customers as collateral damage, is turning said thieves into heroes.

  • Abdz

    Phew found this article again, just wanted to say Steam now has true offline mode, no longer a real DRM, not sure when this happened but it happened… I want to make love to Valve even more now…

  • Doom

    Glad to see you can actually play the game. I still think this online stuff is overdone…cureently playing Pinball FX2 (finally a pinball game iwth lots of machines)…and I get constant messages to get on Steam for extra options.