A few weeks ago, South Korea's Fair Trade commission 'raided' Blizzard's headquarters in Seoul following complaints about the availability of Diablo 3 on launch night. Now, Blizzard are offering affected South Korean players a full refund - with a few conditions attached.
The announcement - which was originally posted on the Korean Battle.net blog , and subsequently translated by the Wall Street Journal - says that players up to level 40 can apply for refunds, and those still below level 20 can also return the game.
South Korean consumer law states that consumers are due a refund if they purchase a product that doesn't work through no fault of their own - and Diablo 3's troubled launch, where thousands of players were unable to connect to its overpopulated servers, fits that bill.
Blizzard have offered this refund to comply with the law in a particular part of the world, and as such players elsewhere shouldn't expect the same deal. It does, however, set an interesting precedent: wobbly launches for online games are hardly uncommon, and actually expected. Most companies anticipate a certain amount of instability early on, and rely on the fact that players will forgive and forget when things settle down. By acknowleging that Diablo 3's initial problems were severe enough to warrant a refund after the fact, they're making the point that launch-day unavailability isn't just par for the course: it's unacceptable.
This may just mean that Blizzard - and anyone following their example - are more cautious when releasing online games in regions where consumer law might catch them out like this. Hopefully, though, it'll encourage developers and publishers to take a less cavalier approach to game launches across the board.
Diablo 3's patch 1.0.3 went live this week, but not before a pair of Canadian gamers managed to beat the game on Hardcore Inferno before it was nerfed.