Diablo 3 is Probably Coming to Consoles, but why is Blizzard so Quiet About it?

Diablo 3

There was a bit of a Twitter kerfuffle yesterday after Diablo 3 lead designer Josh Mosqueira all but confirmed the development of a console version of the anticipated title at a Gamescom press conference.

According to a Eurogamer report, Mosqueira said Blizzard “is very, very serious about bringing the Diablo 3 experience to the console” and is “trying to build the best console team.”

This falls in line with job listings for a Diablo-related console project posted late last year, as well as the more direct “senior software engineer, console — Playstation 3 Specialist” within the Diablo 3 team posted in June.

It seems pretty safe to assume that some sort of consolized Diablo is in development, but why make it so obvious without issuing some sort of official statement? And why does it seem to be gearing up so late in the game?

One thing that caught my eye is the “very, very serious”part of the Mosqueira quote. This sounds to me like Blizzard is investigating ways to very carefully and faithfully bring Diablo 3 to the consoles. But with the recent announcement of a feature like the real money auction houses this will likely be an almost impossible task.

The nature of the PC platform makes the real money houses a possibility. It’s an open platform and easily connected to any number of services, including the financial ones that will run the auction houses.

The consoles don’t offer that kind of luxury. In fact, the existence of the 360’s and Playstation 3’s online services are way more of a hinderance to porting this sort of feature.

We’ve seen that Sony is willing to work with developers to overcome these obstacles, but Microsoft’s infamously rigid Xbox Live will likely put down any hopes of bringing real money houses to the Xbox.

It’s worth pointing out that we haven’t heard about an Xbox version of the game. This could easily be explained by the accessibility of the Xbox as a development platform (an experienced Playstation 3 engineer is a much more specified position thanks to the difficulty of coding PS3 games and therefore a job posting is more warranted) or that Blizzard simply hasn’t put up any public postings for Xbox development.

Or if we’re going to be a little more sensational about it, this could be an indicator that Blizzard isn’t very much concerned with an Xbox version at the moment. The monstrous obstruction between service provider and player that Microsoft has become is what drove Valve away form the platform with Portal 2. Of course they released an Xbox version of that game, but the PS3 release included Steam support and a PC copy of the game. It’s not a stretch to imagine Blizzard bumping heads with Microsoft over something like the real money houses, micro-transactions or mod support. In fact I guarantee you that’s what is going on.

Either way, it’s definitely a possibility that much like Valve’s Steam equipped PS3 release of Portal 2, we could see a Battle.net connected Diablo 3 on Sony’s console. This would likely allow PS3 players to download mods and other content normally reserved for PC players, but more importantly facilitate the use of those real money auction houses. I doubt Blizzard would ever include a PC copy of the game in the box, however.

Keep in mind, I’m no computer engineer. I don’t know if this Battle.net on PS3 concept is even physically possible (though, I don’t really see why it wouldn’t be). Just don’t be surprised when Sony and Blizzard announce a cooperative effort to bring a fully featured Diablo 3 to the Playstation. It would most definitely be a very smart move by both parties as it may even open roads to a Playstation version of Blizzard’s next MMO project.

Microsoft really needs to come to terms with the shift in player/producer relations. As Valve chief Gabe Newell put it at Sony’s 2010 E3 press conference, “As an industry we’re going through a transition from entertainment as a product to entertainment as a service.” Xbox Live’s current state isn’t built to deal with this transition. And unfortunately, I would argue that it’s rigidity and absurd standards for content are hurting a very important community that Xbox Live itself propelled to the forefront of gaming: independent developers.

An unnamed source told IGN that free-to-play games — an important part of this entertainment as a service movement — are coming to Xbox Live sometime next year. That’s a step in the right direction, but until Microsoft allows content creators to directly interact with content consumers, they’ve got a problem.

It cost them the best console version of Portal 2. Will it cost them Diablo 3 as well?

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About Matt Gerardi
Matt Gerardi is a journalist and musician. He also happens to write about video games.

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