It seems forever ago, but it was only a few short weeks since Diablo 3 invaded the computer world and proved that even Blizzard couldn’t be ready for day launch problems.
Instantly, Code 37 jokes (a common login error related to server connection issues) were the norm and the internet was pretty mad about it. However, despite fixing those problems and most people now enjoying the game without errors, not everyone is over that initial sting.
It seems a giant class action lawsuit against Blizzard Entertainment is looming and the plaintiff is the entire nation of South Korea. Ok, not all of South Korea. Not even all of its extraordinary mass of gamers. In fact, it is an organization calling themselves IPCA – Internet PC Culture Association. Acronyms within acronyms confuse me.
Anyways, this group is mostly made up of internet gaming cafe businesses known there as PC Bangs (bang means room in Korean) and they have created a website called Diablo III Damage Lawsuit hoping to rally other gamers that can show that they suffered from monetary loss due to the buggy servers at the game’s launch time.
The argument is that these PC Bang businesses are claiming a loss of income because their patrons who arrived anticipating playing Diablo 3 were faced with login errors and the inability to play. Those who were able to log in were often booted when servers required maintenance to fix other problems Blizzard was attempting to resolve, and again PC Bangs were full of unsatisfied customers. Refunds were issued and they allegedly lost a lot of money.
Now I don’t profess to be a lawyer or even play one on TV, and I know even less about international law, but I am pretty certain that these businesses can’t hold Blizzard liable for a game that isn’t working properly on launch day.
Without going into a long rant about how Blizzard should have been prepared for this (they are very familiar with hosting games that require server side access, etc.) I really don’t see how it is Blizzard’s responsibility to these game rooms.
If anything, these gaming cafes are benefiting financially from the availabilty of Blizzard property that they likely are not paying any special licensing for, even though they charge hourly for people to use the computers to play the company’s various titles on.
Consider how making and selling a Diablo 3 t-shirt would be considered copyright infringement, but would charging for time to play the game be any less? They could argue that they are renting time on the computers and not specifically paying for time on Diablo 3, but by that argument, they cannot blame Blizzard for the stumbling start this game faced.
Blizzard is pretty fair about compensation for services lost, but guaranteeing up time on a server you didn’t pay a monthly fee for is not likely one of them. Where they DO have monthly fees for a game (World of Warcraft) and unexpected server issues cause inconvenient down time, your account gets credited for a full day, even if the server goes only down for a few hours.
Again, I don’t see where they have a legal leg to stand on here, but laws may be different in South Korea.