A number of Diablo Immortal (opens in new tab) players are suddenly and unexpectedly facing crushing "orb debt" following what appears to be a massive revocation of Eternal Orbs purchased from resellers at cut-rate prices.
Eternal Orbs are an in-game currency in Diablo Immortal that can only be earned through the battle pass or with real-money purchases. They're important to serious players (opens in new tab), and they're not cheap, ranging in prices from $1 for a pack of 60 to $100 for 7,200. And that's not going to buy you a truckload of cool stuff: Ten Legendary Quests, which grant better drops from Diablo Immortal's loot boxes, cost 1,600 orbs, while a collector's cosmetic set goes for 1,500.
Understandably, some players wanted to avoid paying full price for their orbs, so they turned to third-party resellers offering orb bundles at sometimes significant discounts. Resellers typically acquire orbs by purchasing large numbers of them, generally with stolen credit cards, then offer them for sale through external websites. Some will actually log into your Diablo Immortal account (after you give them the login details) and purchase the orbs directly on your behalf, claiming to be doing so with unused gift cards (opens in new tab)—although, again, stolen credit cards are usually what's being used.
Earlier this week, however, things seemed to go very sideways, very quickly.
"Half the clan members (and I'd guess half the server) is reporting they're in massive eternal orbs debts (saw screenshots up to -600k)," redditor paleblood (opens in new tab) reported on Reddit (via PCGamesN (opens in new tab)). "This is the result of 3rd party purchases (7200 orbs for 10$ etc.) as there has been probably some mass coordinated refund wave from those scammer/stolen/missing credit cards."
"Most of the traders I know have stalled the sales, stating that the platform they use has been suspended by Blizzard, they can no longer top up the balance using the method they did (either gift cards or stolen cc)," Ok_Support9029 (opens in new tab) wrote in a separate thread. "Meaning no cheap orbs for people that wanted to get the edge over regular buyers."
"Happening right now. 3rd party orbs massive refunds," Shironeki_Lovecraft (opens in new tab) added. "Bought 2 accounts online, and both owners’ accounts got banned for their 3rd party orbs purchased refund. As of now 5am GMT8, searched online 3 accounts got banned. 2 of mine, 1 in Thailand DI FB group. Maybe more to come as it’s midnight now."
On Wednesday, player Expzero1 (opens in new tab) said that large numbers of players in the Southeast Asia chat were trying to sell their accounts, presumably because they'd purchased large numbers of orbs from resellers and were trying to unload their accounts—and get their money back—before they got hit by the banhammer.
Diablo Immortal players have been calling for Blizzard to do something about third-party resellers (and those who make use of them) for quite a while prior to this. "This is huge issue on Eternal Conflict, the leader of Elegy “greedypie” made money off his guild knowing the risks of them being banned with these illegal orbs," Katsu wrote in an August 22 post on the Blizzard forums (opens in new tab).
"Other guilds such as Huaxia participated in illegal activity as well, as well as shadow rising member Broski definitely bought cheap orbs. Please check all 3 of this clans for transaction history and you'd find a surprise. They are contributing to the game negatively by driving the market prices down as well as getting advantages over actual paid players such as myself."
Redditor Forsaken_Bed3801 (opens in new tab) wrote on August 14 that they'd seen a sudden spike in players in the PvP Battleground with high resonance ratings, which they attributed to purchases of "Chinese black market orbs," available at rates just 1/10th of what Blizzard charges. Resonance boosts attribute bonuses and other derived stats. They're acquired primarily via legendary gems, which drop at extremely slow rates—unless you drop some orbs to purchase some crests in order to boost your odds.
"So many honest players who spent more than 1k or less, [have] quit spending money and [left] this game. Plus not only whales, also F2P player leave DI because [it is] really hard to find four people for dungeons. Please Blizzard do something before DI fails."
Using external resellers violates Blizzard's EULA, and so rather than just clamping down on resellers, Blizzard also apparently disappeared orbs that were purchased through them. That's left a lot of players, particularly whales, deep in the hole. Redditor No_Peace_3031 (opens in new tab) said they had spent $500 on cheap orbs and, following the revocation, now sit at -120,000, "or about 1,1650 in the hole."
"I want to spend money and am a hardcore player," they wrote. "The problem is this game gives you next to nothing for free (gocha standards would be 1 legendary crest a day) while this game gives you 2-3 a week. When you actually do buy something you have to pay an arm and a leg for it."
"To put it simply: currency in this game is too damn expensive and it’s near impossible to make any progress without it. I could spend 10 hours playing everyday as a F2P and even after a year likely would have no more than 1000 resonance."
One player, named Shia, said in an interview with Diablo Immortal streamer jtisallbusiness that they'd lost nearly 2.5 million eternal orbs, with a regular market value in excess of $30,000.
Players with negative orb balances are apparently barred from group activities like joining parties or taking part in rifts and dungeons, and also cannot access the in-game market. In the eyes of some players, though, that punishment is insufficient because they can still take part in the PvP Battleground, where they'll still have an advantage thanks to the orbs they've already used. There are claims that some accounts with negative orb balances have been permanently banned for failing to pay the balance back, but those reports are currently unverified.
What is verified is that a not insignificant number of Diablo Immortal players have suddenly found themselves in a hole. Some will no doubt quit, but others will feel compelled to spend even more than they already have to stay in the game, which won't be a good look for Blizzard: In fact, at least one redditor has accused Blizzard of "trying to get anyone who is addicted to shell out the money and keep playing."
Blizzard confirmed in a statement sent to PC Gamer that it had taken action to address third-party resellers, and warned that it will continue to do so in the future.
"We have been looking into abnormal Eternal Orb purchases that have been reported among the community, and taken actions to prevent players from purchasing Eternal Orbs through unofficial channels," a Blizzard spokesperson said. "Investigations have been made for accounts that have participated in these activities, and disciplinary measures were implemented against accounts that were found to have violated the Blizzard End User License Agreement. We will continue to monitor and take actions as needed."