German Consumer Group Threatens Legal Action Against Blizzard

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German Consumer Group Threatens Legal Action Against Blizzard

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The Federation of Consumer Organizations is demanding that Blizzard more clearly label Diablo 3's always-on internet requirement.

The launch of Diablo 3 in May was a rough one, thanks primarily to the strain put on the game servers by the somehow unanticipated demand for the thing. The game requires a persistent connection to the internet in order to play, but lag, connection difficulties and other such issues plagued the game at release and for some time thereafter. It was hardly surprising, although Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime recently claimed that the demand for the game, despite it being one of the most anticipated games of all time, did in fact catch the studio by surprise, but his promise that Blizzard is working hard to support and improve the game isn't good enough for Germany's Federation of Consumer Organizations.

The Google translation is rough, but German gaming site PC Games says that the Federation is demanding that Blizzard change the Diablo 3 packaging to more clearly reflect the fact that the game requires an always-on internet connection. "It is not clear enough to communicate that it is with the Battle.net registry and the entry of the unique serial number is not done," it says. "For the player must start every game with his personal account and login to be permanently connected to the platform. No Battle.net, Diablo 3 no - a similar situation so as Battlefield 3 and Origin, which provided half a year after heated debate."

Consumers are not being adequately warned that the game requires more than the one-time activation we've all grown accustomed to, in other words, and that violates "consumer service" regulations that all such information must be provided to consumers before they buy. The FCO has given Blizzard a final deadline of July 27 to respond to its complaint. "Should we not convince another opinion also be we provide contract action is expected to be in response to outstanding issues in court," it said, which I'm guessing means that if Blizzard doesn't respond by the end of the week, it'll be time to wake up the lawyers.

It might sound silly to those of us who are in the know about all this videogame business, but the further we get away from the launch (and the surrounding controversy), the more likely it becomes that less focused gamers who aren't aware of the potentially onerous connection requirement will pick it up on a whim and have it blow up in their face, which is just the sort of thing these regulations are made to protect against. And if it does go to court, I wouldn't be too quick to bet against the FCO: In June, South Korea's Fair Trade Commission ordered Blizzard to issue full refunds to gamers who had experienced connectivity problems.

Source: PC Games, via Gaming Blend

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Good on them, I say. If your game has outside features that can be potentially limiting/make the product useless depending on what state other normally unrelated factors are in, there should be a clear warning.

The packaging does say that internet connection is required. They want some silly huge back sticker on the front.

Andy Chalk:
The launch of Diablo 3 in May was a rough one, thanks primarily to the strain put on the game servers by the somehow unanticipated demand for the thing.

*pffft*
Yeah. Somehow unanticipated.
It was about as unanticipated as the sunrise in the morning.

What? Did they not track sales data AT ALL before launch?

Because having it clearly stated on the back of the box isn't good enough apparently. What do they want a Blizzard employee to personally explain to each person the system requirements for the game, some people just need to learn to read.

Sorry, I can't get behind this. Between all the rage and a basic reading capability, there is NO WAY someone could not know that Diablo 3 requires constant internet.

Here is a better translation for the PC Games quote.

It hasn't been communicated clear enough, that it isn't done with just registering with battle.net and a one-time enry of a serial number: The player has to login with his account everytimg and has to be connected witht he service. No Battle.net, no Diablo 3 - a similar situation as with Battlefield 3 and a Origin, that sparked a hefty debate half a year ago.

Your welcome.

Of all the things they could be suing over, it had to be the one thing everybody already knew was required for the game. Apparently Germany isn't very happy about being in the Euro zone, because they really missed the mark on this.

BabyRaptor:
Sorry, I can't get behind this. Between all the rage and a basic reading capability, there is NO WAY someone could not know that Diablo 3 requires constant internet.

This sounds more for 'mother buying for older son' than the average gamer who's knows about D3.

And lets be honest, someone without ANY knowlege of videogames isn't going to read the back of the box. (or al least the tiny part that has all the important info like system requirements.)

Come on, they knew how big the launch was going to be. We all know it they knew. They just didn't want to spend money on extra servers which would only be needed temporarily.

Okay, Blizzard needs to slap a big yellow sticker that says "Internet connection required" in German across the front of the German version of the game. There you go, problem solved. No need to get upset Germany.

Twilight_guy:
Okay, Blizzard needs to slap a big yellow sticker that says "Internet connection required" in German across the front of the German version of the game. There you go, problem solved. No need to get upset Germany.

More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

FantomOmega:

Twilight_guy:
Okay, Blizzard needs to slap a big yellow sticker that says "Internet connection required" in German across the front of the German version of the game. There you go, problem solved. No need to get upset Germany.

More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

Okay. We've still solved the entire legal problem with a single change to the graphics on the front of the box. One that can be Photoshopped in in about ten minutes. This seems like a small issue.

FantomOmega:

Twilight_guy:
Okay, Blizzard needs to slap a big yellow sticker that says "Internet connection required" in German across the front of the German version of the game. There you go, problem solved. No need to get upset Germany.

More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

I think thats what they are getting at.

And if they do make the sticker a reality, I want a T-shirt with it on the front.

Ed130:

BabyRaptor:
Sorry, I can't get behind this. Between all the rage and a basic reading capability, there is NO WAY someone could not know that Diablo 3 requires constant internet.

This sounds more for 'mother buying for older son' than the average gamer who's knows about D3.

And lets be honest, someone without ANY knowlege of videogames isn't going to read the back of the box. (or al least the tiny part that has all the important info like system requirements.)

Then how is that Blizzards fault though, the consumer can't just plead ignorance and then go blame the company for it. I'll admit that Blizzard hasn't done everything right but this isn't one of them. They did all they could to inform people that their game required an internet connection so its the fault of the consumer if they can't realize it.

So they're saying that people who are rash in their decisions need their hands held? It states on the box "Internet connection required." If they can't read, or choose not to, fuck 'em.

-EDIT-

Double post.

Andrewtheeviscerator:
Then how is that Blizzards fault though, the consumer can't just plead ignorance and then go blame the company for it. I'll admit that Blizzard hasn't done everything right but this isn't one of them. They did all they could to inform people that their game required an internet connection so its the fault of the consumer if they can't realize it.

Twilight guy's post sums it all up, that and Germany has some of the toughest consumer laws in the world to 'protect' their consumers. Besisdes remember the woman who sued Mc-Donalds for her hot coffee?

FantomOmega:
More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

Twilight_guy:

FantomOmega:

Twilight_guy:
Okay, Blizzard needs to slap a big yellow sticker that says "Internet connection required" in German across the front of the German version of the game. There you go, problem solved. No need to get upset Germany.

More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

Okay. We've still solved the entire legal problem with a single change to the graphics on the front of the box. One that can be Photoshopped in in about ten minutes. This seems like a small issue.

If Blizzard did this from the beginning could this affect the launch sales since most stores will NOT give a refund once you open the box and find that its Online Only?

It almost sound like a intentional omission (on the front of the box) on their part (like putting the important part of a contract in fine print at the back) to not discourage buyers... You know how those huge game/publisher corporations just love those "day one" sales figures...

FantomOmega:

Twilight_guy:

FantomOmega:

More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

Okay. We've still solved the entire legal problem with a single change to the graphics on the front of the box. One that can be Photoshopped in in about ten minutes. This seems like a small issue.

If Blizzard did this from the beginning could this affect the launch sales since most stores will NOT give a refund once you open the box and find that its Online Only?

It almost sound like a intentional omission (on the front of the box) on their part (like putting the important part of a contract in fine print at the back) to not discourage buyers... You know how those huge game/publisher corporations just love those "day one" sales figures...

That's nice but, now you're talking about a conspiracy theory/motivation. The issue in the news story can still easily be solved with a simple change to the box, thus making it not really a big issue.

Hey look, people who are completely idiotic! Oh, and they're demanding a refund for a game they bought that clearly says that an internet connection is always required. How adorably idiotic.

Twilight_guy:

FantomOmega:

Twilight_guy:

Okay. We've still solved the entire legal problem with a single change to the graphics on the front of the box. One that can be Photoshopped in in about ten minutes. This seems like a small issue.

If Blizzard did this from the beginning could this affect the launch sales since most stores will NOT give a refund once you open the box and find that its Online Only?

It almost sound like a intentional omission (on the front of the box) on their part (like putting the important part of a contract in fine print at the back) to not discourage buyers... You know how those huge game/publisher corporations just love those "day one" sales figures...

That's nice but, now you're talking about a conspiracy theory/motivation. The issue in the news story can still easily be solved with a simple change to the box, thus making it not really a big issue.

Then ask yourself this, would a company RISK lessening their initial sales figures by being more "upfront" with the introduction of Online Only DRM on single player games which the average consumer (or any consumer fort that matter) would NOT expect OR be as vague about it as possible because they KNOW that they can get away with just saying "it's on the box, I did not say it was easy to see though..." but make the correction ONLY if the government of a country demands it specified to not mislead consumers at the point of sale.... how many country's Government besides Germany decided to take notice again?

Will Blizzard even decide to apply this "sticker" to ALL games worldwide because one country saw this as putting consumers at a disadvantage?

Company's have been doing things like THIS for decades trying to see how far they can "get away" with something then act surprised/considerate when caught and questioned on their actions, Blizzard is no different in that regard. took them long enough to make a well worded statement by the head of Blizzard on the issues they had on Diablo 3 for weeks after it's launch...

As someone who can actually read the article, the gist of it is that the Box seemingly doesn't reflect the always-online drm at all.

Ed130:

Andrewtheeviscerator:
Then how is that Blizzards fault though, the consumer can't just plead ignorance and then go blame the company for it. I'll admit that Blizzard hasn't done everything right but this isn't one of them. They did all they could to inform people that their game required an internet connection so its the fault of the consumer if they can't realize it.

Twilight guy's post sums it all up, that and Germany has some of the toughest consumer laws in the world to 'protect' their consumers. Besisdes remember the woman who sued Mc-Donalds for her hot coffee?

FantomOmega:
More like "Internet connection required at all times" sticker at the front of the box since saying it's "required" does imply its not always needed to play since its a single player game...

You mean the woman that ended up with 3rd degree burns over 6% of her body because the coffee was served at a temp of 180 to 190 degrees and needed skin grafts and who even tried to just settle for only 20k?

The thing we have to remember is that there are a lot more consumers out there than just "us." Somebody's mom is shopping for her 17-year-old kid's birthday, sees D3 on the shelf and remembers him saying something about how cool it is isn't going to have any idea about this always-on business. Maybe she reads the back and maybe she doesn't, maybe she parses "persistent connection required" and maybe she doesn't, maybe the guy at the counter tells her about it and maybe he doesn't. That's exactly the sort of thing consumer protection laws are put into place to guard against.

Sometimes it goes too far, and maybe this has, I don't know the details. But laws like this are about more than protecting the stupid from themselves, and if we start making room for exceptions because, hey, this is obvious and you should have known, we're invalidating the entire system, good and bad.

That woman was an American, from somewhere in the midwest. Yeah she got badly burned by unnecessarily hot coffee. There's nothing wrong with protecting your consumers, btw. Also, I drank my first beer in a McDonalds in Germany.
I try not to gain pleasure from Blactivision's setbacks, but any time they get a little bruised for their premeditated decision to low-ball the server numbers needed for launch, it's a good thing. I honestly don't care if the number of servers you'll need a few months after launch, you don't require a constant connection on one hand and then limit the, i dunno, space/bandwidth thingamabobs needed for connections. Even weeks after launch I stopped playing when I couldn't get anything going on the EU servers for more than 5 minutes over a 3-day period. So happy I got a refund.

FantomOmega:

Then ask yourself this, would a company RISK lessening their initial sales figures by being more "upfront" with the introduction of Online Only DRM on single player games which the average consumer (or any consumer fort that matter) would NOT expect OR be as vague about it as possible because they KNOW that they can get away with just saying "it's on the box, I did not say it was easy to see though..."

You just reminded me of this conversation:
Prosser: But the plans were on display.
Arthur Dent: On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar.
Prosser: That's the display department.
Arthur Dent: With a torch.
Prosser: The lights had probably gone.
Arthur Dent: So had the stairs.
Prosser: But you did see the notice, didn't you?
Arthur Dent: Oh, yes. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign outside the door saying "Beware of the Leopard." Ever thought of going into advertising?

OT: I'm all for this change. Half of PC games have that "internet connection required" note on it somewhere, whether it's for the multiplayer, the Steam registration, or a Securom activation. Not everyone is going to know that Diablo 3's online rules are the same as a MMOs. Why should they expect that? Diablo 1 and 2 weren't a MMO at all! It's easy to forget how informed I am, because I go "duh!" at my last sentence, but not everyone is me.

I just wish Blizzard was taking more flak here in the states. I think it goes to show the state of consumerism and corporate power in Europe versus America.

Yeah, on some level this is just making excuses to rail on Blizzard.

There really isn't much issue with changing the packaging though, so I don't see how it's really bad except for people who are buying collector's editions really late and having to deal with a stupid sticker marring their box.

Andy Chalk:
The thing we have to remember is that there are a lot more consumers out there than just "us." Somebody's mom is shopping for her 17-year-old kid's birthday, sees D3 on the shelf and remembers him saying something about how cool it is isn't going to have any idea about this always-on business. Maybe she reads the back and maybe she doesn't, maybe she parses "persistent connection required" and maybe she doesn't, maybe the guy at the counter tells her about it and maybe he doesn't. That's exactly the sort of thing consumer protection laws are put into place to guard against.

Sometimes it goes too far, and maybe this has, I don't know the details. But laws like this are about more than protecting the stupid from themselves, and if we start making room for exceptions because, hey, this is obvious and you should have known, we're invalidating the entire system, good and bad.

Exactly! I really can't believe people are defending Blizzard here. They were vague on the box and I believe it was intentional. I believe that they thought that if they displayed "This is an online game" or similar on the box, they may have turned some people off. They figured people would just roll with it once they got it home. Better to ask forgiveness than permission type of thing.

I would like a Blizzard defender to tell me why they were so vague on the box?

Crono1973:

Andy Chalk:
The thing we have to remember is that there are a lot more consumers out there than just "us." Somebody's mom is shopping for her 17-year-old kid's birthday, sees D3 on the shelf and remembers him saying something about how cool it is isn't going to have any idea about this always-on business. Maybe she reads the back and maybe she doesn't, maybe she parses "persistent connection required" and maybe she doesn't, maybe the guy at the counter tells her about it and maybe he doesn't. That's exactly the sort of thing consumer protection laws are put into place to guard against.

Sometimes it goes too far, and maybe this has, I don't know the details. But laws like this are about more than protecting the stupid from themselves, and if we start making room for exceptions because, hey, this is obvious and you should have known, we're invalidating the entire system, good and bad.

Exactly! I really can't believe people are defending Blizzard here. They were vague on the box and I believe it was intentional. I believe that they thought that if they displayed "This is an online game" or similar on the box, they may have turned some people off. They figured people would just roll with it once they got it home. Better to ask forgiveness than permission type of thing.

I would like a Blizzard defender to tell me why they were so vague on the box?

because blizzard is a subsidary of activision, and people only play activision games for the multiplayer! hahhahahaha your so stupid!

/troll answer is troll obvious.

OT: a punch to the face for blizzard?

i can get behind that. Los, Deutschland!

I decided to translate their quotes from the last two paragraphs:

Potential customers need to know what kinds of requirements a software has before purchase. Whether that be an "always on"-internet connection, a forced registration on an internet platform including the access to the game or the download of additional software: All of these are relevant information that the consumers need to be made aware of before purchase.

We consider the response we received from Blizzard insufficient and decided to give them a final deadline on July 27th 2012. Should an additional statement not convince us, then we will probably sue to resolve the remaining open questions in court.

"Der potentielle Käufer muss bereits vor dem Kauf wissen, unter welchen Voraussetzungen eine Software genutzt werden kann. Ob eine dauerhafte Internetverbindung, eine Zwangsregistrierung auf einer Internetplattform einschließlich des damit verbundenen Zugangs zu einem Spiel oder das Herunterladen einer Zusatzsoftware: All das sind wesentliche Informationen, die der Verbraucher vor dem Kauf einer Software erhalten muss."

"Die uns von Blizzard übersandte Antwort fanden wir unzureichend und haben eine letzte Frist zur Stellungnahme bis zum 27. Juli 2012 gesetzt. Sollte uns eine weitere Stellungnahme auch nicht überzeugen, werden wir voraussichtlich Klageauftrag erteilen, um die offenen Fragen gerichtlich klären zu lassen."

Honestly, this is great. I'm so sick of publishers thinking they can get away with nonsense like this. I assume it has to do with the fact that we gamers primarily just want to play our games and as long as you wave that carrot in front of us, little else matters, but because of this a lot of us don't seem to care too much about the more and more intrusive measures that publishers and developers force us to accept and even defend them.
The recent Steam ruling on the EU-level? The consumer protections group in Germany? These are good signs. These rules apply to every business out there and videogame publishers are no exception; I guess these folks think they don't have to care about the rules because it's still a comparably new medium that many people don't quite understand yet, but clearly the parties standing for consumer rights are catching up now.

Captcha: fair and square
You betcha, it's about time.

World of Auction House Online in trouble again for misrepresentation? Say it ain't so! Shrink wrap contract and buyer remorse in the states is pretty lax... heh... really really lax... but other more progressive countries take consumer rights pretty seriously. Come to think of it, looking forward to seeing all the gnashing of teeth when the EU forces used digital downloaded content to be resold legally.

image

kortin:
Hey look, people who are completely idiotic! Oh, and they're demanding a refund for a game they bought that clearly says that an internet connection is always required. How adorably idiotic.

It says internet connection required, not that a constant internet connection is required. That's what their problem with it is.

Maybe I'm just a bad person...but after their decision to split SC II into 3 games for no other reason but to charge people 3 times to get the full game, I can't help but be sadistically, perversely gleeful at watching fail after fail for Blizzard in regards to Diablo 3.

I mean really, I don't hate EA half as much as I despise Blizzard...now that I think about it, they're really the only game company that I've sworn never to buy from again. Just fucking hate those fucks.

I really don't see why so many people are disagreeing with this decision?

Is there some kind of doomsday prophecy that begins with the printing of "Always Online Requirement" stickers?

What exactly is the problem?

What is so bad about Blizzard providing additional clarity on an issue that, even though you think it's clear as day, others obviously find too vague?

It sounds to me like it's mostly some kind of malevolence of wanting people who don't inspect the back of the box very closely or frequent gaming-related news sites to suffer. And I think that's pretty low and elitist.

Nothing wrong with making games available to everyone, including people who just buy these things casually and don't read the back of the box anyway because they haven't the faintest clue what a GHz or a GeForce is.

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