Does Diablo 3 Have Too Many Consumer Roadblocks?
“Communism is the perfect system, in theory.”
- Samuel Webster
In theory, the Diablo 3′s Real Money Auction House (RMAH) sounds like a great idea: an easy, secure, and trustworthy means of facilitating the transaction of real money for virtual bling between end-users. You could even use it to make money! Now, I’m not the type of person who would spend real money on in-game items, but I can still appreciate that Blizzard wants to prevent the type of people who would from being scammed by some shady third-party website.
Unfortunately, while these ideas do sound great on paper, they may lead to an undue amount of inconvenience for average Joe Hackenslash.
It all begins with the required persistent internet connection and the associated downtime. Even if we ignore the type of catastrophic server failure we observed on launch night, servers sometimes go down for maintenance, and that will sometimes be during a time that you want to play. Given Diablo 3 isn’t a massively multiplayer, persistent-world game, there is no need — from a gameplay perspective — to play online at all. Why the always-online requirement, then? According to Blizzard, it’s a security feature against hackers. Diablo 2 saw the proliferation of hacked items, and should that happen in D3, it would severely undermine the legitimacy of the RMAH.
D3′s patch 1.0.3 introduced a lovely “feature” that prevented some newly purchased Digital Edition accounts from progressing beyond level 13 and the game’s first Act. This account-lock lasted until payment verification went through, which could take up to 72 hours. To put that into perspective, it takes approximately two hours to reach level 13 and complete Act I. So honest customers were prevented from playing the game they had just purchased for three days. Why? To quote Blizzard, “For security reasons and to help ensure the integrity of the game and auction house service.”
The RMAH — we’ve come full circle. You’d expect the RMAH to be the one place that delivered a completely smooth experience, right? Wrong. When making a purchase on the RMAH, customers have experienced up to 48-hour holds on a transaction before receiving the item they paid for — despite the money already being debited from their PayPal account. How significant is that 48-hour waiting period? Two days of casual gameplay can easily mean 5-10 levels of progression in the early game, which would render the purchased item obsolete by the time of acquisition.
I’m willing to give Blizzard the benefit of the doubt and believe that the company had puritanical motivations with the RMAH and preserving its legitimacy, rather than motivations fueled by mustache-twirling greed. But from a consumer’s perspective, having good intentions just doesn’t cut it — it’s the results that matter. In this case, the results are a number of seemingly unnecessary roadblocks to enjoying the purchased content that punish honest customers in an attempt to deter crooks. Well, guess what — they’re deterring honest customers.
Do you think Blizzard is asking consumers to endure too much in order to enjoy Diablo 3?