Blizzard may be facing multiple lawsuits in the near futureBy: RiskbreakerRiot posted at Jun 18, 2012 2:52 pm
Ever since the release of Diablo III, Blizzard has been under attack by their once dedicated fans. A lot of players were not satisfied with the game, saying that it was a watered down version of Diablo II. I really don't think that's the case, but rather the effect of nostalgia on those gamers.
So far I've spent over a hundred hours playing the game and I can say that I've received the full value of the product. But some were so dissatisfied that refunds were demanded. So that 7.something million copies sold will be knocked back a tiny bit. I don't feel it's fair to play a game and return it just because you don't like it; that's like demanding your money back at the cinema just because you didn't like the movie.
That's not to say that Blizzard is the victim here. I've noticed ever since StarCraft II and Battle.net 2.0 that Blizzard isn't the same company they used to be. I personally dislike large gaming companies who put money ahead of quality. One such company is Activision, who recently merged with Blizzard. That would explain the shift to a more profit-based structure. Diablo III reeks of greed, which is why I guess Azmodan plays such a large role (ba dum tss... Diablo joke).
To get to the point, Blizzard's decision to monetize their virtual drops is very controversial. For those who don't know, let me explain: Diablo III is a game based on equipment (weapons, armor etc) drops. In Diablo III there is an auction house where you can trade items for in-game gold. That's cool, since you will have to farm a lot to get good gear and the auction house reduces that burden. However, there is another auction house where you can buy these items for actual money. Each item can be sold/purchased for up to $250 USD. Let me reiterate: people can buy a virtual item for $250, a price way over the actual cost of the game.
Who gets the money from these sales? Why whoever farmed the items: sometimes legitimate players and very often the illegal botters. Oh, and Blizzard gets a percentage cut from every sale too ($1 USD on every item and 15% if you want to cash it out to paypal). Blizzard has a money tree. But other games have cash shop items too right?
Let's take the example of Team Fortress 2 (TF2) where the cash shop offers you a bunch of decorative items, mostly hats. If you want an item that can make your character look cool but not affect gameplay, you can purchase something from the cash shop, in which case Valve gets the money. In Diablo, the equipments sold do in fact affect gameplay and are virtually endless since they are constantly generated by players. Some might say that isn't so different from a regular cash shop but this is where the potential lawsuit comes in:
* Bait and Switch: I saw this point brought up in the forums. It was really interesting because something like this had happened to me before. I went to a restaurant and ordered something off the menu. However, when the bill came, I was charged a higher price than what was advertised. What that restaurant did was attract me with a lower price (bait) and try to stick me with a higher price (switch). I didn't pay it, in case you were wondering.
In effect, Blizzard is about to do something like this. For 'balance' purposes, Blizzard will constantly change the effectiveness of certain stats. Right now, the most valuable stat is considered to be attack speed. When the Real Money Auction House (RMAH) was opened people rushed to buy these valuable items. Then Blizzard announced that they were about to nerf attack speed. So essentially, they baited players to purchase the most powerful items, and then will switch to another stat like so:
1. Bait players with an overpowered stat
2. Accumulate sales from items with said stats
3. Nerf overpowered stat
4. Make another stat overpowered
5. Repeat for unlimited money
The thing is, no one ever complained about attack speed being overpowered because every class benefitted from this stat. Even so, a nerf would have been ok if the RMAH sales didn't take place.
Why did Blizzard find the need to make a RMAH if the gold auction house worked? Money. They don't need the money to run the servers since unit sales will cover that cost. Gold farmers were always a threat, so now they just made it legal so that they can get a cut.
Okay, so that's one potential lawsuit. Another one is by the Korean government (source: http://kotaku.com/5917674/in-korea-people-are-so-pissed-about-diablo-iii-server-woes-they-might-sue-blizzard)
Net cafes are pretty popular in South Korea. People go to play games like StarCraft II and Diablo III. Read the above article; it makes you angry at how Blizzard gives poor service and gets away with it.
With all the money Blizzard is making, you would think that their servers would at least be somewhat stable. But they aren't, and players still have connectivity issues and lag even in single player. To make matters worse, Blizzard wanted to restrict the number of times you can create a game, to reduce server strain (so you probably will get locked out of your own game for 15 minutes before being allowed to play again). Seriously, why can't they just get more servers instead? When ArenaNet's Guild Wars 2 servers were strained during the beta weekends they didn't stop people from logging in - they got more servers!
I'm not saying Diablo III is a bad game; there is much fun to be had by playing it. However, Blizzard is no longer small company that cared about the quality of their games. They are motivated exclusively by monetary gains. Maybe a few lawsuits will bring them back down to Earth.