By Park Si-soo
The government has launched an investigation into Blizzard Entertainment over allegations that the American computer gamemaker has refused to refund Koreans who purchased its latest real-time role-playing game Diablo 3.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said the firm is suspected of having violated the country’s law on electronic commerce and commercial contracts. The FTC said Tuesday that it raided the firm’s Seoul office Monday and secured related documents and other evidence with which it will determine whether Blizzard broke the law.
The investigation comes only two weeks after the release of the game, which has sold more than 6.3 million copies worldwide.
Larger-than-expected traffic to the online game’s severs made it extremely difficult for its users to access the game, particularly on weekday nights and weekends, according to Blizzard Korea.
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.
Blizzard said it doubled the capacity of servers Friday and pledged to improve services further in order to prevent a recurrence of the problem.
Despite the move, major portals have already been receiving messages denouncing Blizzard’s poor service. Hundreds of users have filed formal complaints with the FTC, calling for an investigation by the regulator.
“We have received many complaints from Diablo 3 users,” said Kim Hyung-bae, a spokesman for the FTC. He admitted that an investigation into Blizzard is underway, but refused to elaborate.
Other FTC officials said the probe is aimed at confirming whether the firm has sold the game based on what they describe as an “unfair” contract so that people cannot receive refunds even if they discover problems with the game. They said they are studying whether the company should be held liable for “ill-preparation” for unexpected traffic.
It’s too early to see any results of the probe but some investigators expect the regulator to issue an order mandating Blizzard to provide a full refund to all unhappy customers.
Diablo 3, out nearly 12 years after its incredibly successful predecessor Diablo 2, was one of the most anticipated releases in some time both here and abroad.
According to game ranking firm Gametrics, Diablo 3 accounted for 16.16 percent of user time at PC rooms within a day of its release. The rate has increased to nearly 40 percent, it said.
Users choose one of five classes ㅡ Barbarian, Wizard, Monk, Demon Hunter or Witch Doctor ㅡ to fight the titular demon Diablo in single player quests and can level-up online in a Battle.net multiplayer platform provided by Blizzard.
The Diablo series is dubbed a “game of evil,” for its storyline and the fact that it is expected to account for many sleepless nights by avid gamers here.
Blizzard is well known for its constant patches and bug-fixes (12-year-old Diablo 2 is still very well maintained and played often), but thwarting constant hackers and illegal programs being slipped into the game is another task for the firm.
국내 게임업계 `광풍`을 몰고 온 `디아블로3`가 공정위로부터 과징금, 환불명령 등 철퇴를 맞게 될 전망이다.
28일 공정위와 업계에 따르면 공정위는 최근 서울 청담동에 위치한 블리자드엔터테인먼트 사무실에 조사관을 보내 현장조사를 실시했다.
공정위는 그동안 디아블로3 접속장애에 대한 소비자 불만을 조사해왔으며 이번 현장조사로 과징금, 시정명령 등 본격적인 조치에 나설 예정이다.
지난 15일 출시된 디아블로3는 국내 PC방 점유율 40%에 육박할 정도로 인기를 끌고 있으나 온라인에 접속할 때 이용하는 사이트 `배틀넷`의 잦은 접속장애로 소비자의 불만이 큰 상황이다.
블리자드가 추가 서버를 마련하는 등 나름대로 대책을 준비했지만 역부족이라는 지적이다.