Sunday, January 29, 2012

Will Blizzard keep you from getting rich in Diablo 3?

Diablo 3 is going to have an auction house in which players can sell virtual items to other players for real money. Which prompted some people to start dreaming of getting rich by playing video games. I've been chronicling the negative consequences of that for some time, from the difficulty of getting rich in face of strong competition, to the expected negative social consequences. But it seems I have neglected one aspect: Blizzard might actively stop you from getting rich. My favorite virtual snake-oil vendor Markco posted that Blizzard kicked him out of the Diablo 3 beta for earning too much gold and beta bucks in too short time.

While of course I don't have all the details of the story, it appears to me that Diablo 3 has some sort of hidden code which is designed to ban gold farmers and bots, but which could end up banning players that are too good at making gold as well. Now some people will call that "unfair", but what it is not is "illegal". Blizzard has the absolute right of kicking out players they believe are harmful to the game at large. And if Blizzard doesn't want "professional" players in the game, they can kick them out. In the end it doesn't matter whether you are a Chinese guy working in a sweat shop, or an American college student who would rather get rich by playing video games than studying. If Blizzard thinks that you are just out for the money, and not just playing, they can ban you.

While I think that this is a good idea, I am certain that this will still cause a lot of controversy in the future. Players will want the "Chinese gold farmer" to be banned, but will insist on their right to farm gold and make money, without seeing that this is exactly the same thing, and mostly indistinguishable by Blizzard (unless you add an illegal racist bias to the criteria).

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