Diablo 3, Blizzard’s dungeon crawling point-and-click RPG, is seeing yet another controversy: players are paying for money on zero-dollar items.
Paying money on items which are free, and admitting that the Real-Money Auction House manipulates the economy
We’ve reported many times on the issues Diablo 3 is facing, including Chinese players jumping on Korean servers and accounts being hacked to steal gold and items. The latest, perhaps unsurprisingly, is related to the Real-Money Auction House: some players have reported items going for free are in fact costing figure rising into triple digits, and Blizzard reluctantly (seemingly) acknowledged the issue.
The original issue on the Diablo 3 forum said the item was selling for $0 in the Auction House, but the following day the user had to pay a whopping $149. Calling Blizzard customer service and citing a display bug, the customer service rep said Blizzard doesn’t deal with the Auction House. The rep offer the rather insulting solution of reselling the item, which wasn’t really the point. The difficult there is that Blizzard constantly patches the game, so a high-value weapons one day could be a low-value weapon the next.
Forbes also reported on a user who lost $99, who managed to get the issue sorted through customer service by having the money refunded minus the Auction House fee (Blizzard takes 15 percent).
Blizzard Admits To Controlling Economy, Weapons Drops, Removes Thread
Talking of Blizzard making money from the Auction, a thread – screen-capped by Cinema Blend – showed a Game Manager from Blizzard explicitly saying that the Auction House and the economy are related. In other words, the Real-Money Auction House is used to control the economy. If not, the economy would be uncontrollable and probably abused. So it’s in the best interests of Blizzard’s finances to make sure the economy isn’t being unfair to players.
Community Manager Zarhym said the zero-dollar issue is a bug being fixed, but the damage has been done. It’s amazing how Blizzard has consistently had issues with Diablo 3, even though it’s taken 12 years to release. We’ve seen investigations from the Federal Trade Commission on the Korean servers being overloaded, so maybe they’ll return for another investigation.
Whether more players will leave remains to be seen; Blizzard hasn’t released server statistics.