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Last week we updated gamers on the status of a few pressing issues regarding Diablo 3. While there are still many open cases with the game and the player-base, including individuals who lost money and contacted the FBI, others who had money go missing due to the RMAH's region policy as well as others who simply had money disappear and get banned with no further explanations, the one thing that frustrated many gamers was the censorship of talking about these issues on the forum.
According to a recent article by Tracey Lien on The Verge, a user claims that Blizzard is cranking up the security on the forums. Some defenders believe that it's about time Blizzard start banning “trolls” and unwelcome gamers who stir up nothing but trouble. It's hard to imagine that a comment like the one below would stir up trouble, but alas it was labeled as “harrassing” a Blizzard employee. Check it out below or read the original banning via the screenshot...
"I have already had a post deleted and have read that other have been banned. It seems that if you even subtly request that Jay Wilson make a statement or take an interview publically on the forums then it is promptly censored. I wonder why Blizzard would not want people to question why Jay Wilson has not made any public statements or interviews since the delease of Diablo 3? He seems like he used to be a very talkative guy..."
We posted similar shots of players being banned, most notably the one in which the user states that Jay Wilson can legitimately say he “killed Diablo”, which resulted in a very prompt ban, as shown below.
Now of course, Blizzard has every right to ban as they see fit as outlined in their Code of Conduct. Many users defended Blizzard's right to ban even for trivial subject matter...it's their forums, right? Wrong.
This segues into an extremely important issue: When you're banned after having your account suspended due to an RMAH issue and your money is lost and customer support isn't helping you get the issue resolved, where else would you go to talk about these issues? The forums perhaps? Well, what happens when you get banned on the forums?
Players are prohibited from talking about forum bans or posts that have been moderated or censored but what happens when it involves an unresolved case that does relate to lost real world money, such as the ones we've been reporting on rather frequently, such as the guy from Malaysia who had his account banned and no response from Blizzard, and was promptly banned from using the forums to discuss his situation? Had he not brought his story to us realistically his money and account would simply be vacuumed up into a ban-vortex, presumably with Blizzard hoping that no one would know it ever happened.
Some of the more hardcore fans believe that the ends justify the means...and that a clean forum board is essential for maintaining order. A few others have gone as far as to say that Blizzard has allowed all the posting to go on far too long and it's good they're cracking down on it now and that if it were any other game company's forum board the posts would have been deleted even faster.
Well, we actually put the claim to the test by having one user who was perma-banned for “other” reasons on the Diablo III boards, replicate the post on Steam's Left 4 Dead forums and League of Legend's forum. As you can tell from the links, Steam has a no-nonsense policy in place and effectively killed the thread. As for the second posting, it seems it's still alive and well over at Riot Games' League of Legends forum since the moderators obviously have better things to do...such as working with the community to improve the game.
Ultimately, the forum bans will hurt players and consumers in the long run. A lot of cases we covered here were recovered from the forums where many of those threads were deleted. If players have a difficult time posting about misappropriation in Diablo III or the Real-Money Auction House then it pretty much means that we won't be able to cover it and that means a little less bad press for Blizzard.
We're still awaiting Blizzard's response to the issues we covered last week.
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