Readers who have been following our coverage of Diablo III since May 15th probably noticed that we've had an article up just about every other day about Diablo III. While this week and last week were no exception, diligent followers keeping track of a lot of unresolved issues regarding the services that govern Diablo III may have noticed that these issues haven't quite been in the news regarding the actual outcome of some player cases, specifically the Linux bans, victims of the Real-Money Auction House as well as the forum goers who claim they've been wrongfully silenced and censored.
Well, just to ensure readers that things aren't quite finished with Diablo III, every situation involving the RMAH, Linux, forum bans and missing money are still being investigated. In fact, Blizzard plans to chime in on a few of these cases sooner rather than later.
Just to keep you abreast on some of the latest developments regarding Diablo III, another banned Linux user has come forward, expressing his discontent with the way Blizzard handled his case and other Linux users. If you're unsure of what happened be sure to read up on the story here.
A brief recap is that Blizzard claims they only banned cheaters, but when pressured to reveal how these guys were cheating, mum was the word.
This ban measure even extended over to Europe, where a German player running the game on Linux was banned after several weeks of play. He was effectively locked out of his account and told the following in regards to trying to recover his account...
From this point on this account and any D3-associated heroes or objects are no longer available. Your only way to play Diablo III, again, consists in the purchase of a new license or in an attempt to leave off your old account on an appeal again. Due to our thoroughness in the investigations and the imposition of penalties of this magnitude will lift the permanent account ban is unlikely, but we recommend that you wait to buy a new gaming license until the appeal process has been completed. If you add to your Battle.net account, a new license for Diablo III, this is the old D3-account override. Heroes or objects from your old account remain deprived.
The banned Linux player then took his case from the European support to the North American support where he inquired about his ban and after a long back and forth with customer support, was finally given this disparaging bit of information...
An additional response from the German support does elaborate that between June 24th and July 13th they detected “cheat programs” three times running on his machine, but again, further elaboration was limited to that alone. It was similar for other Linux users Marcus Meng and William Taylor who also came forward after receiving similar responses and very little detailed information on the bans.
The worst part about it is that because the game is always-on and Blizzard has revoked their licensed use of the game these players can't even play the game offline. I mean, having to re-buy a brand new license for $60 even if you were cheating is beyond harsh or extreme. Players should be allowed to cheat in their own time for their own games, but the always-on for Diablo III completely prohibits any sort of playability beyond what Blizzard allows. These sort of measures completely detracts from the “fun” that game culture is supposed to be about.
Of course, these measures have to be in place because of the golden goose attached to the always-on DRM: The Real-Money Auction House. This beast has created its own set of problems not to mention completely defeats the purpose of loot-grinding. Players have been ambiguously banned on several reported occasions for unknown reasons while using the RMAH. One player claimed he was banned for spending too much money on the RMAH, while another player had his RMAH privileges revoked and his account suspended due to an error on the auction house. This is separate from the region bans that also saw a guy lose $200.00 to a grey area of the RMAH region policy.
A player decided to buy gold off Blizzard's RMAH using real money (he was in the appropriate region as well, playing from Malaysia in the American server as outlined in the RMAH terms of service). After purchasing the gold the user was later sent an e-mail indicating that the account had been locked and that his access to the RMAH was banned. Then after, the user was banned from the forums and then his money was shown to be missing from his account. You can check out the chronological events here: First the user buys gold from the auction house. Next up, the user gets an e-mail letting him know he's been banned. You can check out Blizzard's e-mail to the user here. Next, the user checks his account status which now shows that the user is banned. Next, the user finds out that the account's funds have been drained. Yikes.
The above event transpired two weeks ago and the user has yet to receive a response (as of the writing of this article) about what happened and why the account was banned and the money evacuated from account holdings. When trying to address the situation on the forums there was the other startling revelation that forum access was prohibited as well. Yes, the player, after being banned from the game was banned from the forums.
Forum bans was another issue preventing a lot of players from complaining about certain troubles, problems and account situations they ran into. The bans range from issues as mentioned above, where players who lost money or ran into trouble with the RMAH tried taking their case to the forum with no avail, while other bans were a little more head-scratch worthy, such as this comment from a user who claimed that Blizzard's Jay Wilson “killed Diablo”...and I'm pretty sure sometime throughout Wilson's career he has managed to kill Diablo.
This post here also seemed pretty harmless but alas, a ban-hammer was dropped for even mentioning Jay Wilson. These additional two shots showcase other ban-hammers being dropped for what I would probably label as level 1 trolling at best, check them out here and here.
Some players has claimed that it's Blizzard's game and their forums and they can do whatever they want, including banning people and accounts whenever they feel like it. That entire point is entirely true, however, it doesn't mean gamers have to support it or taking it lying down.
However, in the interest of fairness there are always two sides to every story. Blizzard reached out to us last week and felt like they have a side of the story to tell that better reflects their position on some of these issues, since the forum threads by Game Masters didn't seem to be doing them much justice.
While all the cases above have no resolution, we have presented these cases directly to Blizzard and the company has stated that they will look into them. They also plan to provide statements on these issues and we'll be sure to update the story with the appropriate response once we have it.
Again, a huge thanks to the gaming community for not only coming out and coming forward to present your cases but also for being transparent enough to want to get these issues out in the open. We're still not in the clear but all of you who never stopped bringing the vocal, written, blog, news-aggregator-pain to the forefront of the gaming topics for Diablo III did your part in making these issues important to Blizzard.
Whether you're fans of Blizzard or not, whether you're a core or a casual gamer and whether you invested $60, $100 or $250 into Diablo III, you're a gamer with rights and it's important to fight to maintain those rights. Your money holds value to you and no corporation should be allowed to take from you without giving in return. Hopefully the above cases will receive the adequate closure they deserve and we can move on to a better and brighter chapter in the gaming industry.