German Consumer Agency Targets Blizzard

As if the Korean and French consumer bodies weren’t enough to be contending with Silverfang sends word that The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzbv) has raised action against Blizzard accusing them of antitrust violations.

It seems information on the German Diablo 3 box does not make it clear that a permanent internet connection is required or that the game is tied to the consumer’s account permanently. I can’t imagine that the box does not state ‘internet connection is required‘ but perhaps it isn’t clear that the single player option also requires a permanent connection. Without that made crystal clear one could easily assume the single player aspect wouldn’t require a connection.

The problem with the game being permanently tied to the consumer’s account seems to be that it prevents resale.  The VZBV require that both of these things be made clear on the box.

In amongst this is the thorn in Blizzard’s side, the server infrastructure and it’s inability to cope with the volume of customers.  Outside of patching I don’t know if that’s even still an issue in Europe now.

Blizzard have until the 13th of July to respond.

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43 thoughts on “German Consumer Agency Targets Blizzard

    • If you click the link using Chrome you can translate it….if you’re German then it’s the “Wettbewerbsverstöße abzugeben” (I think?) bit which sounds much more terrifying to me.

  1. “Blizzard have until the 13th of July to respond.”

    Or what? These “Consumer organizations” crack me up. I don’t think suing a company that resides in another country is going to do much. Do these organizations have the power to get Diablo 3 banned from being sold in the country?

    • “Do these organizations have the power to get Diablo 3 banned from being sold in the country?”

      Not “these organizations,” but there’s a good chance of a court making that decision if Blizzard plays hardball and it comes to a law-suit…

  2. Yes These organizations can stop all sales of the product within a country or even worse, ban the game entirely from the market within that country, that’s the whole point. (The goal however is to not let it come that far)

    Consumer protection is taken much more seriously outside of north America.

    I like that Blizzard has arrived in the 21 century and is facing the complicated laws and bureaucracy associated with it.

    Its like letting them taste their own “rules and restrictions” they also have within the games they develop. (user agreements we constantly have to accept multiple times when logging-in etc.)

    I like when Blizzard has a hard time and is being punished as long as they improve and we as customers will benefit from it in the long run.

    • What rules and restrictions? Did people not research the product before they bought it? They said years ago that you would always need to be online, the box says so, im sure in the game’s ToS (I admit I don’t read that, who really does? Its there to cover Blizz’s ass tbh).

      Are there REALLY so many server problems outside of North America? I’ve yet to have one unexpected problem from the servers since the first few days of the game’s launch.

      “I like when Blizzard has a hard time and is being punished as long as they improve and we as customers will benefit from it in the long run.”
      My money is on that Blizzard will walk away from this unscathed. They alone have an army of lawyers, not to mention access to Activion lawyers and cash if they so need it.

      • In a similar case concerning Battlefield 3 EA bailed out and signed the declaration to cease and desist…

      • Not everybody who purcahsed this game was a die-hard Diablo fan. Sometimes people just see it or hear about it and just buy it on a whim, and it can be frustrating. It would be like going to a car dealership and buying a brand new car to only 2 months later find out it didn’t have air conditioning. You assume certain things are going to work a specific way. And no, it isn’t stupid to assume a brand new car wouldn’t have air conditioning, just as assuming a game that was single player wouldn’t need an internet connection.

        • If the owner’s manual of said car said “Oh, by the way, doesn’t come with Air conditioning”, then you would need to make the decision yourself in your purchase. You can’t go screaming to a company because you did not research your product.

          Hopefully people will begin to research the products that they buy. It only takes being burned once to do so, and maybe this will be it for some people. (Though I still hold that this burn is barely even a sunburn from what I am seeing)

          • How many cars have you owned? and how many times have you extensively thumbed through the owners manuals of each one before making a purchase? I guess it may have been a poor example. My point was many people don’t do much research before purchasing a game. Sometimes they just grab one out of the Under $9.99 bin at gamestop. People can be impulsive.

            I do swear sometimes people argue for the sake of arguing. I must be on the internet.

      • Definetely, Game’s Tos won’t cover anything for Blizzard if the court consider that the Game’s ToS is breaking the law…and this is the core of the legal issue : is Blizzard selling a product/service with illegal clauses.

        Technical issues were the purpose of people complaining but that should not lead to court issues ; I think that national consummer agencies took the case only because they felt that there is something wrong with consumer and commercial laws.

  3. Hello from Germany! First off i want to say that my english isn’t that perfect so please, don’t blame me for that!

    But anyways, i hope i can tell you whats going on at the “Verbraucherzentrale”. They are moaning because on our boxes Blizzard tells us “You need an Internet Connection” and not “You need a permanent Internet Connection” 🙄 For some people at the “Verbraucherzentrale” – who really like nit-picking – this means a HUGE difference 🙄

    Normally the “Verbraucherzentrale” fights for really big things like “You are no longer allowed to print cherrys on that glass of marmelade, because cherrys are not the number 1 ingredient” 🙄

    Oh and if you wonder, why they are now “fighting” against Blizzard – if you go to any “Verbrauchezentrale” to complain about some glass of marm… uuuuhhhm about Error 37 or “they don’t say i need a permanent connection! only a connection!” they charge you 80-100 EUR for their “professionel advice” 🙄

    • Well, there is a huge difference between “a permanent internetconnection” or “just an internetconnection”. When its only for getting updates its ok to be on internet now and then. That’s not the same as being aalways online just for playing the game by yourself.
      An American company with their silly law from claiming millions for getting a wrong cup of coffe should have known this.

    • what the hell are you complaining about?

      you are seriously complaining about ‘nitpicking’ something that really makes a huge difference? you are even complaining about them trying to protect you.
      and sure they charge you a royalty if you ‘ask for their professional advice’ – are you new to bureaucracy?

      man thats exactly why i left germany. everbodys bitching about everything. even if its an organisation thats trying to protect you.

      • Protect you from being an uninformed dumbass? SO in other words this agency in this case is protecting you from yourself. Amazing. I could see why he is being condescending towards that particular organization. It makes a huge difference? That’s like saying that Skateboarding requires the use of feet and then getting pissed off that no one mentioned that it REALLY was Skateboarding requires the use of your feet…. PERMANENTLY. It’s redundant and simply put foolish. Every MMO I pick up reads “Requires and internet connection” they make no mention of permanent because if you REQUIRE something then obviously you have to have it. I don’t even know what to say beyond that which won’t get me banned. Also it disturbs me how you say “are you new to bureaucracy” as if it is something to either be accepting of or something you want. Neither of which should be the case. Hope you didn’t come to the States after you left Germany ❗

  4. Oh i forgot something. If i look at the boxes from WoW Classic / TBC / WOTLK / Cata you know what Blizzard is saying there? RIGHT! “You need an Internet Connection”. 7yrs later, Blizzard is (of course) selling WoW in Germany.

    • Did any one in Europe or Germany try to sue Blizzard once WoW launched? I remember in 2004 servers were incredibly laggy, with stability slowly improving (Excpet for places like Orgrimmar or Ironforge). Raiding guilds started over on new servers just to escape the lag.

      Not one person in America sued Blizzard.

      • This ALL simply shows that the GOLD maffia AND the illegal HACKING software industry is MUCH stronger than anyone thinks.

        And of course NOOB consumer organisations take the complaints for granted.

        I think that even the guys behind the cracking/duplicating industry are behind this.

        NOW we know why Diablo had such a hate camppaign from the start.

        Also WOW and ANY MMO and ANY webbrowers game and ANY Dota kind of game AND 50% of ALL Ipad/Ipod games need a constant internet connection…

        It simply shows that was existent for 10 years …. now suddenly is sued…

        You can’t have MORE proof that the huge CRIME organisations are planning this/.

  5. I love these actions. It makes companies accoutable to false advertisement. Esp american companies who think they can sell oversea and not be responsible for problems at their ends.

    To american players who are supprise, this is what regulation is for: to protect consumer’s rights.

    • The consumer is never right. In most cases, the consumer is an idiot.

      Side note: remember when we were respected and called customers? Lets start using that terminology from now on.

      • You feel respected just for being called a customer?

        That doesnt stop companies from trying to screw with you now does it~?

        • Nope, it doesn’t stop’em from trying. But putting selfrespect before respecting not to be respected is surely the first step to turn the wheel. (At least a bit… ;))

          • How is calling one customer gain more self respect than consumer???

            Furthermore, what does self respect have anything to do with rights, legal protection, buisness standard and regulation?

            I can see how money and power can factor into the equation, but self respect???

          • >> How is calling one customer gain more self respect than consumer??? <<

            Not one, but oneself!

            I know, this is not quite answering the question, but we have (had?) a saying here: "The customer is King." Nowadays, only beeing treated as a consumer, I would rather suggest "the consumer is whore." (Capitalizing the "K" and not capitalizing the "w" is as intentionally, as it is/was meant by the saying…)

    • Helical obviously has a grudge not with the company or many companies in general UNLESS they are based in the United States in which case he seems to enjoy watching them get slapped on the wrist for nonsensical bullshit. In fact I would say his issue is with America and not with Blizzard.

  6. oh my this is too funny!!! and I thought Steiner’s rants on TNA were hilarious enough

    • I imagine as a represntant of the copying industry you would be glad indeed.

      Thiefs and crooks first who complained.

      Get it into your BIG head first: ALL MMO’s need a constant internet connection.

      Or is it the part that there is no possibility you can’t hack/copy Diablo that makes you stand out in the cheering crowd.

      So tell me why are you glad Troll ?

  7. This is totally stupid. I think it spells out very plainly you need the damn internet to play the game.

    • Just like any other Ipad, MMO, DOTA, Web browser game …

      It shows the multi billion dollars Gold MAffia and hacking/duping industry is behind all this.

      They KILLEd the music industry and now are after the guys trying to find methods to AVOID theft…

      Simple as that.

  8. Have they also targetet the many other games that can’t be resold, like many console games for example where you need to enter a code to access multiplayer etc. which gets tied to your account and can’t be reused?


    Just so fed up with all these mindless consumers nowadays. Common sense is really getting a super power. Before you buy anything you check it out first? If you don’t then apperently you have enough money that you don’t care.
    This really isn’t going anywhere and its just ridiculous how organisations like this try to create workload so they have something to do.

    In the end yea it can be “anyoing” to have a fulltime online connection required. But so far I have had issue’s twice. Which were completly expected. First the 37 at launch (derp its busy) I ended up playing and had almost no issue’s. And the 2nd one on the first patch day. Which was solved within 2 days. And the issue only happend around peak time.
    I think that people just bitch to much nowadays

  10. Blizzard is taking a lot of pounding lately, does it not? TIme to stock up on popcorn.

  11. Blizzard really deserves this. I really wish they will get sued more so they would be obligated to make single-player offline.

    • You logic is bad. Even if Blizzard is sued, they will not make this game offline. Too much is handled on their end that to make offline at this point would require so much code to be re-written.

      Its easier for them to be sued (Which I doubt will happen) than it is to make an offline component.

      QQ more.

  12. First Korea, then France and now Germany. Anyone see a trend ? Who knows, maybe Blizzard will turn around and say it isn’t there responsibility just like they did when players were being hacked by gold sellers. /sarcasm 🙂

  13. I was a rabid diablo 2 player. I passed on Diablo 3 – the requirement to play only online coupled with the introduction of the “real money market place” guaranteed that I won’t touch the game with a 50 foot pole. If you expect me to have to deal with “always online” and all of the associated head-aches, then you as a company better be prepared to offer me MMO levels of content and updates.

    Since Diablo 3 clearly does no offer that, no sell. I can’t say I am shedding any tears over Germany and Korea hammering down on Activision. I remember when Blizzard was about making a great game. Hrm… probably explains why the last Blizzard product I purchased was the warcraft 3 expansion pack.

    Oh well. I know I am just a little cog, that does not matter in the face of a tsunami of buyers, but for what it’s worth, blizzard lost a fan that had been with them since The Lost Vikings on the SNES.

    It’s a shame too, I looked forward to Diablo 3 for more than a decade. But after watching the real ID mess with the SC2 beta, I realized that I needed to keep my wallet closed, and watch on the border.

    PS: Hi Flux, long time no see. You’ve come a long way since the old days. Grats!

  14. These countries are just hoping for fines. They are all cash strapped and see Blizzard as a fat easy target. Most of these complaints are just plain stupid, online games all have problems and we all knew what we were getting into when we bought this game. I guess many people don’t remember how freaking flaky battlenet 1 was, even right up to its demise.

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