It’s hard launching a blockbuster video game these days. Even if you work for a decade and spend hundreds of millions of dollars in development, entitled fans will find something to complain about within minutes of a game’s release. EA is learning this new lesson in gamer entitlement with Mass Effect 3, which gamers didn’t feel ended correctly. So, Bioware, the developer of Mass Effect 3, announced it would release downloadable content (DLC) to “clarify” the ending.
Now, Activision is learning the same lesson. According to The Korea Times, the Korean Fair Trade Commission (FTC) is investigating Blizzard Entertainment over allegations that the company did not provide refunds to customers dissatisfied with their purchase of Diablo III. The issue stems from the problems Blizzard had meeting demand for the game on launch-day. From the report:
Some buyers of the game vented frustration over server shutdowns and asked for refunds, but the company refused to do so, citing sales contract terms, which the FTC says is disadvantageous to consumers.
The Korean FTC evidently received hundreds of complaints from Diablo III players who were unable to play their games due to the always-on internet connection requirement of the game. The Korean FTC is not investigating the fact that consumers could not access their purchased game, but the claim that some of those upset players were unable to secure a refund for their unplayable game. The investigation led to a raid at Blizzard’s offices in Seoul, where investigators confiscated documents related to the case. The FTC will now determine whether Blizzard actually broke the law.
Though both EA and Activision are taking heat from fans and seeing governmental pressure over their games, it’s odd that none of the pressure on the game companies is for the things the companies are deliberately doing that inconvenience customers. The complaints about Mass Effect 3 were regarding the game’s story design, which gamers thought was too linear. What gamers should have been complaining about was buying a copy of the game and then having to buy “DLC” for content that was already on the disc they had purchased. In Korea, the investigation into Blizzard is regarding their willingness to provide refunds. What should be investigated is the reason so many want refunds – the always-on internet requirement for Diablo III.