I’d like to take a look at the past for a moment here. There are a lot of rumors of a Diablo 3 being announced soon, benefitting from the new and improved features coming to Battle.net with StarCraft 2. Details on those features have yet to surface, so all we have is conjecture. But what about the classic title, Diablo 2? Is it an MMO?
One of the primary features attributed to MMOs is persistance. The world in Diablo is not persistant, being recreated every time someone starts up a new instance of the game. But what of the characters? Looking at the Realm system in Diablo 2, which stores the characters on their servers, there’s an argument to be made for some persistance. Characters keep their equipment, experience, and place in the storyline across games. The way I see it, it’s as much of an MMO as Guild Wars. Guild Wars just moved everything into its graphical space, rather than having players meet up and form groups in an outside lobby.
And what of the lack of a persistent world? In Guild Wars, the world outside of the towns is reset everytime you leave, and in World of WarCraft, the world itself is only barely affected by player actions. So then the only thing separating Diablo 2 from these games is a persistent economy. Most MMOs have some sort of auction house or other player-affected trade system, whereas trading items in Diablo 2 is dependent on the chatroom lobby and a good deal of trust in the player with whom you’re doing business. In this regard, I think Diablo 2 could be seen as a simply a primitive society compared to the advanced community present in current MMOs.
Let me know your thoughts, and be sure to throw any D3 info my way. Like most, I’m really hoping that the rumors are true.