Interesting legal news about Diablo 3 from Europe and China, this week. The bigger news is from China, where Diablo III is technically illegal, as it’s still delayed by the usual Chinese government video game regulatory hell. Eager fans have been paying a fortune to get working copies from Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea, etc, but now a more home-grown version is available, via hackers and piracy. To quote from the Kotaku article:

    Currently, foreign games that enter the Chinese market need to be censored and “published” by a Chinese internet operator such as Tencent, Shanda or NetEase. NetEase is the operator for World of Warcraft in China.

    The crack in question, released by the notorious game hacking group Skidrow is basically a server emulator for Diablo III. The server emulator would allow the game to think that it was “connected” to Blizzards server, thus allowing the player to play Diablo III offline. Currently the crack is still in its beta stage but a working torrent has been released.

    There are no details available about how good the emulator is, but it doesn’t sound real advanced from the article. During the beta we saw a lot of D3 emulator efforts, which were very useful to give us previews of higher level skills and other things not in the beta. The problem with the emulator (aside from it being illegal) is that all the level generation, monster AI, item drops, and many other core game functions are run on the server, without any code to execute them on the client. Thus the emulator creators have to basically write their own code to enable anything more than characters standing in town and casting spells at Captain Rumford.

    The best emu vids I saw during the beta had one or two types of zombies moving and attacking, but it was nothing like playing the actual game. Perhaps progress has been realized in that field, though? Or maybe the Chinese fans are so bored and desperate that a 1/100th working game is better than no game at all.

    Update: From comments knowledgeable people say the emulator is the same Mooege one we saw in the Beta test, that it’s still just a sandbox with nothing approaching game functions, and that Skidrow had nothing to do with creating it. So the original Kotaku article seems pretty misinformed about everything, and the only news is that the Beta emulator is being widely distributed now in China.

    The other news is from a European court, which ruled for the consumer and decreed that players MAY resell their digital copies of games, even though game publishers all fill their EULA and TOS with legalese saying that you can not do so.

    “Where the copyright holder makes available to his customer a copy – tangible or intangible – and at the same time concludes, in return form payment of a fee, a license agreement granting the customer the right to use that copy for an unlimited period, that right-holder sells the copy to the customer and thus exhausts his exclusive distribution right. Such a transaction involves a transfer of the right of ownership of the copy. Therefore, even if the license prohibits a further transfer, the right-holder can no longer oppose the resale of that copy.”

    This is good news for consumers, and potentially great news for gaming retailers who would love to be able to continue acting as parasitic middlemen who give you $10 for your used game, then resell it for $45. If they can do that with digital games, all the better. No store space needed at all!

    The article mentions Diablo III, but that’s irrelevant, since everyone loves the game so much no one would be willing to resell their copy. Not for any price!

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