Blizzard faces class action over Diablo 3
By Cho Mu-hyun
Blizzard Korea, the subsidiary of one of the world’s leading game developers, is facing a class action suit amid repeated protests from users for poor server management.
“We are planning a class action lawsuit against Blizzard Korea, as users and PC room owners are suffering from constant server malfunctions and server check-ups for Diablo 3 while the company avoids responsibility,” Kim Chan-kuen, head of Internet PC Culture Association (IPCA) told The Korea Times, Tuesday.
The plan comes as Blizzard Korea is under scrutiny by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) for its poor product return policy. The government agency raided its Korean offices last month and is deciding on whether to fine the company for violating electronics commerce laws on its return policy.
IPCA opened an online cafe Monday called “Diablo 3 damage lawsuit group,” asking users and PC room owners to join the organization in filing a lawsuit against the American game company’s Korean office.
The IPCA is asserting that Blizzard Korea is intentionally ambivalent to user complaints of poor server management for the role playing game that was launched last month.
“We have something like 700 to 800 members in our cafe. We have received numerous complaints since early June from PC room owners and users, and decided to represent them.
“Korea accounts for a large percentage of Blizzard’s total revenue, and considering how much domestic users contribute to the firm’s profit, its consumer services are severely disappointing.
Kim says that the organization wishes the American game company to realize the seriousness of the issue.
The organization has held multiple internal meeting to decide the appropriate figure they wish to ask for in compensation and are consulting legal experts, said Ahn Sung-yon, head of IPCA’s public relations, and will decide on a future course of action within this month. Ahn added that other forms of protest, which are yet to be specified, are also under consideration.
PC room owners were initially able to install Diablo 3 at their businesses without paying royalties when the game was released on May 15.
As of June 1, however, they must now pay Blizzard Korea certain amounts of royalties depending on how many games are installed. The IPCA says the game company is constantly miscalculating the money it collects from PC room owners.
“Blizzard Entertainment’s failure to respond quickly and merely telling users to wait for a reply from headquarters despite constant server malfunctions and miscalculations of royalties is conduct that ignores domestic PC room owners and consumers,” said Kim.
The most recent incident that caused an outburst from users was a prolonged server checkup that started on Sunday and ended Monday. Blizzard Korea initially posted on its website that the Asia server will go through a 2 hour server checkup that eventually lasted over a day.
“The extended checkup time was due to our efforts to fix an item copying bug,” said a Blizzard Korea official. “We recently added servers to solve the problems of malfunctions, and are on the constant lookout to maintain proper connectivity for users.”
Diablo 3 was released worldwide last month with high expectations from Korean users, which serves as one of Blizzard’s most loyal customer bases. According to the firm, the game broke internal sales record with 2 million pre-orders and selling more than any of its previous games upon release.
The official said the overwhelming popularity was more than expected, and was the reason for server malfunctions.
“As with all foreign company subsidiaries, it is the usual method of operations to wait for confirmation from the headquarters before any measures are taken. The time that it takes is different case by case, but we are working hard to answer users’ complaints,” said the official.