Lead designer Kevin Martens says people don't remember "how mad they were" that Diablo II had both an online and offline mode.
"If someone has no Internet access, then yeah, Diablo III is not the game for them," Diablo III's lead designer Kevin Martens told Rock, Paper, Shotgun in an interview at Blizzcon. Always-online has been the second most controversial feature of the game, and after Blizzard made the decision to remove the most controversial feature (the Auction House), people assumed that always-online may follow. But, Martens again puts his foot down, stating that people don't remember "how mad they were" that Diablo II had both an online and offline mode.
"I don't think people necessarily remember how mad they themselves were that they had an offline mode and online mode in Diablo II. This will probably be controversial for me to say. People will be like, "I wasn't mad!" But I was there at the time, and then I studied this for a living."
"It sucks when your friend or brother is online and he wants to join this game, but you realize you're an offline character and he's an online character, and there's no way to transfer over because offline characters can be hacked and hex-edited to hell and back, right?" continued Martens, explaining that the company still feels that forcing Diablo III to be online was the right choice.
However, the RPS interviewer continues to press Martens, asking why even an option to play offline isn't made available to those who just want to play by themselves, away from the rest of the community. Martens quite curtly answers "We didn't make that game. That's the straight-up answer. We did not make that game, and we're not going to turn this game into that game."
So there you have it. Always-online is here to stay, like it or not. As my PC is connected to the internet roughly 99.99% of the time, it's not really a big deal for me, but I can see how people who can't afford good internet, or live in an area with an unstable connection may be peeved.
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun