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You may have heard about a few of the Linux users getting the ban-hammer dropped on them permanently and without recourse. You may have also heard about Blizzard deleting forum threads that could reflect negatively on the company as well as their strict policy against account trading. Well, There are a few ways Blizzard can solve these problems and still save face.
First up, an avid Battle.net forum goer was recently banned for making a post that actually reaffirms what we reported on a couple of times: Diablo III's player base is shrinking. The poster had his posting rights revoked and has been permanently banned from the forums for spam. His deleted post was here, but thankfully Google cache enabled us to give you a look at what the post was like before it was banned, which you can check out right here. His post is a heck of a lot more intelligent than the troll bait that passes through the general discussion thread, so darned if I know how that's more or less spam/troll-worthy than anything else on the Battle.net forums (and anyone who visits that forum regularly knows the kind of unfiltered trolling that goes on there).
According to the user, whose real name is Kurt Moore, suffers from the same kind of problem of getting his account restored for forum use in the same way that Marcus Meng and William Taylor are still just trying to figure what third-party software actually caused them to get permanently banned and denied a refund. You can check out Kurt's inquest into the matter and Blizzard's response (he still hasn't had his account restored to this day and the only way to do so is to buy another product from Blizzard), with his query here, Blizzard's customer support response here and their follow-up response here. It's nice to know that when you've been banned you can also rely on support to give you the run around.
It's funny because this ties into the recent article about these very kinds of authoritarian services being detrimental to the growth of the gaming industry, and mostly hazardous to consumer rights. And if you think that Kurt deserved his ban for trolling, how about this poor sap who was banned and locked out of his account because he moved out of the country.
What's more is that there are a number of forum posters complaining about being banned for buying gold from third-party sources, and while we certainly can't exclude these people from clearly being stupid, it's funny that these individuals would claim to be banned over third-party gold purchases, gold that derives from gold botters, the main individuals that the RMAH was supposed to filter out.
However, this kind of falls back to an extremely simple set of solutions for Blizzard to enact, which will not only quell bad press but also partially get Diablo III and Battle.net back into the fair graces of the gaming community.
1.) An offline mode is the typical and obligatory suggestion to help bring some sort of amicability back to the perception people have of Diablo III, but what's more is that Blizzard needs to completely get rid of the Real-Money Auction House. The RMAH is a bane to the self-entitled sense of gratification derived from loot farming and gear grinding. This pro-corporate service has nothing whatsoever to do with having fun in a video game. It's a cash grab and let's stop pretending it was implemented to make things "safer" or "better" for gamers, it just gives Blizzard a cut of all real-money trades, simple as that.
2.) In place of the RMAH they need to keep the gold auction house and player trades, and Blizzard should instead simply sell virtual gold themselves. Blizzard selling gold to undermine gold sellers is something they should have done from the start and completely axed out the RMAH. People would complain about it being pay-to-win but it's what every single MMO publisher does, including Microsoft with their MS Points, so let's stop pretending that selling gold directly to players is some sort of rare thing. People are buying MS Points to buy their way through Mass Effect 3's multiplayer right now, so...yeah. Blizzard selling gold sure beats them scheming with the RMAH and there's no longer grey market money losses to worry about on the consumer's end.
3.) This article about account name changes and account selling brings up another important topic: Why ban people for selling accounts? Blizzard should charge a $10 fee for people who want to sell their accounts and work as a middle-man (heck they're doing it anyways, except it's all kinds of shady). Instead of dumping all that legal red-tape into the RMAH, use it for a legit middle-man account trading service and call it a day. Again, it's happening even outside of Blizzard's jurisdiction and people are being scammed and banned. It's literally a lose-lose situation for everyone.
4.) Transparency. What's with all this corporate, spy-game, secrecy BS? If you're in the business of making video games and you're dropping ban-hammers on players, forum goers and everyone else in between, how about some honesty in the matter instead of all the vague PR bullcrap and legal threats? When did video games become the CI "freaking" A? And why the heck is it that people can't even appeal their bans or even get refunds? What the heck, Blizzard? That sounds more like a Government institution than a video game company.
I doubt Blizzard will implement any of the above, but right now something would be better than the Dictatorship of Blizzardaria that they have running right now, which seems like it's a doppleganger for 1943 Germany. The company wasn't always this communist and maybe, just maybe, we can get the old Blizzard back where it didn't feel like you had to carry photo IDs, a recent newspaper clipping or documents published within seven days of the photo in order to change simple things on your account.
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