Diablo 3 Patch Devalues Items; Players Advocate ‘Chargebacks’
Patch 1.0.3, which dropped last week, has a serious effect on in-game items, knocking down a statistic on many of them known as “increased attack speed,” or “IAS.” Weapons whose IAS was “nerfed” by the patch had the stat cut down by as much as half. According to Blizzard, the change was made to continue to help keep the game balanced so that all characters and character classes get the appropriate gameplay experience and difficulty level out of the game.
It’s a big change to a weapon or item in Diablo 3, where the speed with which players can attack is often key to their survival. Attack speed determines how quickly a crossbow can be fired or a sword can be swung; higher speeds mean more attacks, so a high-IAS weapon is highly valuable and highly useful.
Thinking about the value of these items is where the trouble comes in, because now that Blizzard has launched Diablo 3′s Real Money Auction House, players are able to purchase (from one another) weapons and items that will help them get a leg-up in the game, especially at its higher difficulty modes. Many players had purchased items for real money in the auction house, only to find their value slashed along with their usefulness — after the sale was made.
The situation for many players goes something like this: You purchase a great new crossbow in the auction house that will really help you pummel demons. It runs you quite a bit of money — maybe even close to $250, which is the cap Blizzard has set on such transactions. And a day or two later, Patch 1.0.3 updates Diablo 3. Suddenly, your crossbow is still powerful, but instead of firing four powerful bolts per second, it now only fires two; in a general sense, the effectiveness of your crossbow has been cut in half. And it’s definitely no longer worth the $250 you paid for it. That money is gone, because now you need to purchase a new crossbow or go without.
Blizzard itself doesn’t sell items in the auction house, but it does take a piece of all the sales that go through: 15 percent of the final sales price of each item goes to Blizzard. Many angry fans feel cheated and look to assign blame to Blizzard for their devalued items, demanding refunds or posting angry comments in the official Diablo 3 forums. Refunds aren’t forthcoming, though, and many players in the forums are going so far as to advocate calling their banks or credit card holders and claiming they never authorized their in-game purchases with Blizzard to initiate “chargebacks.”
Consumers have some protections when making purchases online or through catalogs, and chargebacks allow them some recourse should purchased merchandise never arrive or arrive broken, and so forth. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, consumers have the ability to challenge charges through their credit card companies or issuing banks. It’s an involved process that opens up a dispute between the merchant (in this case, Blizzard) and the consumer — but it leaves the final decision on whether the consumer will have to pay for the transaction to the credit companies who investigate the situation. The situation can also end in arbitration between the two parties.