Korean Lawsuit Brewing against Blizzard over Diablo 3

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.


26 Responses to Korean Lawsuit Brewing against Blizzard over Diablo 3

  1. Admittedly, I'm not willing to fish for it right now, but I'm nigh certain Blizzard has a clause about not being liable in the case of downtime in the EULA for the game. If so, it doesn't matter how angry the folks are, they agreed to it when they played.

    For my part, I can see why they feel they have a case, but I think it was also incredibly optimistic of anyone to expect that any online game would have a flawless release day.

    • But this game wasn’t advertised as a single player game. It was also stated that an Internet connection and Battle.net account was required to play.

      • Fact is, if they make it an online game, they jolly well make sure that their own server is online. If not, then they would have failed to provide an adequate level of service.

  2. Believe me when I say that the always-on internet is something I personally loathe, to an exceptionally high degree.

    That being said, people going into an internet cafe are unlikely to be going there for a wholly single player experience.

  3. Blizzard might simply opt to pay out damage anyway if they're not absurd. They're already refunding anybody with a digital copy of the game no questions asked if they desire one. Even people who have played for 200+ hours and sold the gear on the real money auction house to make a profit were able to get full refunds for the game. Simply put blizzard does try to do right by their customers, sometimes even at their own loss, in order to keep their reputation. It's possible they'll do so here.

  4. I've known the owners of several similar businesses in the US. And yes, they do pay a licensing fee for the game for each computer in the establishment, they then charge an hourly fee to use the computers. So in a sense, they have some leg to stand on in terms of lost revenue for being unable to use a legally licensed product.

  5. Personally I doubt Blizz will give them anything. They are known to do right (most of the time) by their players, but here we are talking about bunch of businesses that are trying to make profit from Blizz product, and for that they are rarely known to be kind.

    • In this case, it is not just about doing right (although that terms make me LOL when applied to the current blizzard team .. do right? only if they cannot avoid it).

      Another website reported that the cafe was given free copies of the game, but have to pay monthly licensing fee. In this case, if blizzard cannot keep their servers up most of the time and allow everyone to log in with minimal fuzz, then it is a failure to deliver an adequate level of service and they might have to pay damage, depending on what is the terms and conditions of the contract.

  6. My gut is telling me that a big portion of these people are gold farmers. They weren’t able to get into the game and get a head start on farming gold. Who knows, maybe some were even part of the account hacking groups.

    • Your gut intuition is wrong. Going down to the PC Bang is pretty much the equivalent of hitting the pub or seeing a movie for a certain segment of the korean population. It's a really big thing over there.

    • you mean … your gut thinks on your behalf? :P

      But on a serious note, your ideas of koreans are very condescending, There are many many cyber cafe over there and these are the players who have supported blizzard through D1, D2, SC and helped to make SC game into a cyber sport. To label them (or a majority of them) as gold farmer … I can;t even bring myself to say the adjectives as it would get me banned.

      Again, just a reminder to hold on to your reasons when it comes to the game and use some common sense, if not logic.

  7. The problem is still in the EULA. If they account for downtime in it, which I'm pretty certain they have, then there's not much legally they can do. It's still something the company agreed to in order to use the product. I don't like it, but that's the situation.

    • It may be that in Korean law the EULA is over-ridden by the Law. I know in America businesses are more protected by the Law than in other countries (even just consider the issue of Libel in America compared to Britain; in Britrain if you sue someone for Libel they have to prove what they wrote is true, rather than you having to prove it's a lie). I know that EULAs don't circumvent the Sale of Goods Act in the UK for example; no matter what you put in your EULA if the item you bought is not "Fit for Purpose" you are entitled to a full refund and possibly damages.

  8. all blizz has to do is say fine, we just wont sell our stuff in your country anymore. but before that add into the eula that they can stop service to an area. that will shut them up, and kill all those goldfarmers.

  9. "I am pretty certain that these businesses can’t hold Blizzard liable for a game that isn’t working properly on launch day."

    Yes, yes they can. Blizzard knew damn well what the DRM would do and how it would harm their paying customers, and they threw it in there anyways as a giant "F**K YOU!" to their customers.

    I spent around 15 years buying ever game Blizzard made – now that Activision has caused them to go full anti-consumer DRM, I'll never buy from them again.

    • Hear Hear. Sad but true. Another trusted developer going down the drain. More pertinently, if they do not salvage their reputation and pissed enough gamers off. If their next few games start to show a slide in profit vs developmental cost …. it might be kotick's turns to whip out the axe :( as it his usual practise – can you say milk the cash cow dry, man….

  10. It does smell of petty but I can understand why people would be frustrated. The problem is that if they do manage to sue Blizzard, suddenly they have less money to plow into new game development… is that really a good idea on behalf of the Bangs? Blizzard are big boys now, they probably have all this sort of stuff covered in licensing agreements… I would honestly be surprised if anything came of this.

    • mmm do you work for blizzard? If not, then why are you so worried about their funding? I think that is the least of their worries, the problem is that they are NOT spending enough to setup the infrastructure to support the game mode (online only).

      And moreover, the cyber cafe (or bang in korea) would be absolutely foolish to go into a licensing contract without any indicate of acceptable level of server on the part of blizzard, as is the normal practise in most commercial contracts.

  11. Forget this lawsuit. With their new USD Auction House, I don't know why they aren't in trouble for being an Online Gambling site. I am not being a troll, but think of it this way. You pay your $60 to get your lottery ticket, you play hoping you get a random item, which you can turn around and sell for real money. The top end appears to be $250. I'm not saying you will get rich from the game, but it is a form of gambling.

    The other thing I find disturbing is that Blizzard charges a fee for real auction house items (which appears to be %15 which they split with PayPal). How difficult is it to create wealth by using a few inserts into their Oracle database (I know they use Oracle for Wow, not sure about Diablo), wait for people to sell these great items, then watch the money roll in? Yeah it is dishonest, and one would hope they aren't doing fishy things like this, but who knows?

    • Actually, they do not need to do that. They have already said that the loot table has been set up with the AH/RMAH in mind …. that is, the frequency of loot drop has been tweaked and lowered because the developer say that they have to keep in mind that having AH.RMAH would allow players to have access to a greater amount of loot (through the AH, not monster drop)

    • And how else would they fund support/maintenance for the servers? No one HAS to use RMAH. If your playing a online game, you either pay a sub, p2p or micro transaction set up.

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