Blizzard Entertainment has quietly announced that Diablo II: Resurrected won’t feature the TCP/IP networking that helped define the original game’s multiplayer experience.
The feature has allegedly been removed to prevent “potential security risks.”
In the original Diablo II, TCP/IP (which stands for Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) multiplayer allowed players to battle together by hosting sessions on one player’s computer and directly connecting via IP address. This feature was common for multiplayer games of the era, and predated modern matchmaking systems hosted via platforms like Battle.net.
When Diablo II: Resurrected was announced, executive producer Rod Fergusson had told multiple news outlets that the older matchmaking format would be supported. That’s no longer the case.
Fans of Diablo II interested in playing the game together will still have plenty of options to link up through Battle.net, so from a play experience, this change won’t impact a large portion of the game’s audience. But the feature’s removal highlights the difficulty of truly archiving and preserving older games and capturing the experience of what it was like to play them in their heyday.
Users on Reddit have pointed out some of the benefits (and costs) that TCP/IP connections enabled. They allowed players to use mods and helped speedrunners reroll maps when doing runs on normal difficulty. Players also ran the risk that you might encounter players with cheats installed, since this matchmaking mode works around Battle.net’s anti-cheat systems.
If Blizzard chooses to have Diablo II: Resurrected replace the original version of Diablo II available on Battle.net, it would also mean it’s harder for players to download and experience the original game. This was a problem with the recent release of Warcraft III: Reforged which made it more difficult to play the original version of Warcraft III, even if you had your discs and keys after all these years.
The developers working to bring this game to life obviously find themselves in a tough spot. Fergusson’s promise that the feature would be included now makes the reversal look more unfortunate, and there are likely genuine security risks players need to be protected from.
And of course this all comes as Activision Blizzard employees at large face an earth-shattering reckoning over a culture of sexual harassment and discrimination at the company as alleged by a lawsuit filed by the State of California.