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Diablo III Real Money Auction House launches amid widespread bans to players

Blizzard’s Real Money Auction House, for the gaming sensation Diablo III, went live in the US yesterday and already reports of wide spread banning have surfaced. So far the source of the bans seems to be the system detecting signs of botting, hacking,  — and possibly add ons — being used. At least according to Blizzard:

GMA news – Blizzard said Tuesday the cheating —which involved not only hacking programs but also bots— violated the Battle.net Terms of Use.

“In addition to undermining the spirit of fair play that’s essential to everyone’s enjoyment of the game, botting, hacking, and other such exploitive behavior can contribute to stability and performance issues with the Battle.net service. As always, maintaining a stable, safe, and fun online-gaming experience for legitimate players is a top priority for us, and we’ll be continuing to keep watch on Battle.net and take action as needed,” it said.

While it gave no further details, it indicated the number of players whose accounts were suspended or banned numbered in the “several thousand(s).”

There were some claims overnight that many, many legit players have been hit by the bans. How accurate this is, and what will be done about it in the event it’s happening, is unclear. Some players say they’ve been told they failed some kind of internal audit, possibly related to not having full and current info, such as addresses or their real names, on their Battlenet account. One player told me in the wee hours this morning she was able to get her account back after going through a ‘routine online verification’ procedure, but I’m not certain exactly what she meant by that.

Comments

  1. Gregory in Seattle says

    Sanctioned RL trading of in-game gear is going to be a big, big mistake. It only encourages the kind of hard-core, aggressive farming that make online games miserable to play, and if they ban everyone suspected of “improper” behavior then no one will be willing to sell anything in that market.

  2. Alverant says

    I agree with Greg. What Diablo 3 is doing is a horrible thing. First you need a constant internet connection like an MMORPG. If you’re internet is down, you can’t play. If their servers go down, you can’t play. If someone else is hogging your bandwidth, you can’t play. People bought this game and yet they are told they don’t really own it. If I buy a car, I can modify it all I want and the manufacturer can’t stop me. Sure they can (and should) void the warranty, but that’s it. Now we have people who effectively lost $60+ because they thought the game was theirs instead of buying permission to play.

  3. Gregory in Seattle says

    @Stephen #3 – Wouldn’t know. I almost pre-ordered it — I’ve been playing WoW for years and I love it — but decided to wait. After reading about the c-f that Diablo III has turned out to be, I have zero intention of playing it.

  4. Stevarious says

    So glad I skipped this game. There was no possible way it could ever live up to the hype, and the decisions that Blizzard has made on how to run it have been intolerable.

    I’ll prolly pick it up in 5-6 years when everyone’s forgotten about it and I can get it for like 10 bucks and download a mod to make it enjoyable.

  5. Shawn Smith says

    Alverant said,

    Now we have people who effectively lost $60+ because they thought the game was theirs instead of buying permission to play.

    Welcome to the wonderful world that is software. Almost all software is “sold” this way. Does anyone ever actually read the multi-page EULAs? Sometimes I do, and everytime they include the standard broilerplate…you have not purchased the software, only a license to run it on one computing device. You have the right to make one copy for backup purposes. All other rights are still the company’s, and all the risks are yours. Etc. etc. etc.

  6. says

    It amazes me how many people seem to have actually paid money for this game and did not realise that you needed an permanent connection to play it. Now these people are complaining, idiots.

    Another thing that no one mentions, is the millions of people who are following the rules, and enjoying the game, with a few minor hiccups that are slowly getting smoothed out.

    Once again it’s the shouters that get noticed, not because they are many, but because they are loud.

    Yes, I am happy with my Diablo III and have over 300 hours of great game play so far. Works for me, but then I am not a real gamer like the rest of these folk, no?

  7. unbound says

    @Balstrome – To some extent, I agree that people should do the research to see what is required (it was one of several reasons I’ve delayed purchasing the game). However, you seem to accept whatever is done that is convenient for the corporation (Activision-Blizzard) but can leave customers in the lurch.

    I can understand the need for a brief connection to validate your license, but players should have been offered the opportunity to play the single player game without the need for a battle.net connection. I bold that phrase because there is absolutely no need for that connection. Blizzard could have simply disallowed any items obtained when in “off-line” mode to be sold if they had concerns about hacking, etc.

    Blizzard chose not to provide such functionality. And, no, it really isn’t something that would be hard to accomplish despite any corporate PR that says otherwise.

  8. herp says

    The problem, as I see it, with allowing an offline version of D3 with any type of auction house is the mechanism of marking items “off-line.” This is a point that would be ripe for hacking, and would be the first place I imagine I would go after if I were to abuse such a system.

    Giving a player a copy of a character file, even if it is encrypted, gives more ammo for the hackers’ tools. Now there is an opportunity to find out how everything is stored and how items are added/removed. The trick is to now convince the server that you have picked up an item, which may not be that hard. Supposedly you would need server-side verification and cross-checking for each item picked-up. Now you have just added a significant amount of overhead on the servers. there are hundreds of items/gold/etc picked up in one session by one person; I feel that is something that is nearly impossible to deal with and maintain a smooth playing system for those that are playing online in a group.

    In the end, this is probably one of the better ways for Blizzard to maintain some hold on the item creation in the game as well as keep an eye on what is sold in the auction house.

    FWIW, I personally enjoy the game and don’t care that it has to be connected to the internet. That’s only because I have an always-on connection. The only problems I will get are if the power is out, which is moot because I don’t have a huge battery back-up, or if the ISP dies for some reason, which means I will have to play any other game I have (be it console or PC).

  9. jaranath says

    “I am enjoying the game, therefore anyone criticizing it is an idiot and a vocal minority (and obviously we should ignore minorities), complaining about negligible issues that will be fixed anyway, and they’ll insult me in self-denigrating ways for speaking the truth, which is obviously true because I’m happy”.

    Balstrome, I really don’t give a rat’s ass how much fun you’re having.  I’m loving the game too, in large part because of the surprising and, to me, unexpected pleasure of a limited social element in the single player game (chat, achievement notifications, etc).  Were it not for that, while the game is lots of fun, I’d be taking that refund by now.  It’s the one silver lining in this online single player snafu.

    I’ve got a game that occasionally refuses to run due solely to problems with someone else’s computer, that crashes frequently, and that runs chronically slow and choppy (a deal breaker right there for most games). I’ve never seen Blizzard screw up this badly before with player experience (WoW doesn’t count, in my opinion, as it was fundamentally multiplayer).  And it was done for an incredibly transparent profit motive. 

    All of which is fine.  There’s nothing wrong or even particularly unethical about it. But don’t be so asinine as to think your personal contentment has any bearing on others’ experiences and opinions.  People will buy the game or not, that’s all that really matters.  I’ve learned that for a “single player” game hobbled with this sort of server-based system, I would be on the “not” side if not for the social features, which are a novelty that I’m not sure would transfer well to other games.  And that’s not due to anger or frustration with Blizzard…I’m not protesting anything.  I’m saying the problems I’m having with this game otherwise outweigh the pleasure, such that I would choose another game to waste my time on.

    If this auction scheme pays off as big as Blizzard thinks it will, they can afford to lose a lot of customers.  Of course, those customers would find and support other products, so hey, maybe everyone wins!  Except for those of us lacking metacognition.

  10. John Kruger says

    I get the feeling that the RL auction house is more or less an experiment in seeing if it is better to let people do what they want in a level playing field instead of trying to constantly fight against “black market” elements that will try their best to do it anyway. We shall see if it works out.

    Personally, I think paying money to get better items or power level a character is totally idiotic. I usually buy a game with the intention of playing it myself, not paying other people to play it for me. I plan to vote with by wallet and not participate in the RL auction house. If other people want to do it I don’t really care. If not buying things in the AH makes PvP impossible to break into, I will simply not participate in that either.

    There are plenty of games out there. I will not waste my time complaining about ones that do not appeal to me. I will just go somewhere else.

  11. jaranath says

    Blizzard’s taking 15% or $1, depending on the item. With 15% on top of that if and when you try to actually take your money. I don’t think this is an experiment in neutering the black market.

  12. otrame says

    I am enjoying DIII and have no intention whatsoever of using the RL auction house. Why would I?

    I don’t think this is an experiment in neutering the black market.

    Of course it isn’t. It’s an attempt by Blizzard to face the fact that some people have such low self esteem that they are willing to cheat on a game to make themselves feel all big and strong and mean. That is what the gold-buying has always been about. So Blizzard has decided to cash in on it like all the black market guys did.

    I bet that I, a mediocre player at Wow for years, have far more fun playing than all those with their items they obtained with purchased gold who can swat me like a fly, because when I accomplish anything, I accomplish it, not my frigging wallet.

    Pathetic losers, every single one of them, no matter how much they “win”. Making it “legal” within the game won’t change that.

  13. John Kruger says

    @jaranath

    Good point, I had forgot about that. If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em, I guess.

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