Blizzard’s free-to-play Diablo Immortal could find itself in legal trouble, as a law firm specializing in class-action lawsuits is investigating the game for false advertising.
Specifically, the Migliaccio & Rathod law firm has announced it is looking for players who purchased a specific Legendary gem, Blessing of the Worthy, which was sold in various in-game bundles that could cost up to $100. At upgrade level one and two, the gem’s description originally declared that it would grant users a 20% chance to do damage worth 12% of a player’s maximum life, making it incredibly powerful. Then, at level three, the description originally changed to read that it dealt damage based on the player’s current life, not their maximum life.
Having the gem deal damage based on current life makes the gem far less useful, as any situation where a player may be on low life will greatly reduce the amount of bonus damage being done. Blizzard clarified months later that the description used for the level three version of the gem was the correct one, and changed the level one and two descriptions accordingly. Some players joked that the gem should be renamed to “Blessing of the Unworthy.”
However, many players had already spent money on the gem, and Blizzard did not offer any compensation or refunds to players who may have purchased Blessing of the Worthy based on its original description. A post on Reddit by one of the game’s community managers announcing the description change back in October 2022 was met with numerous players calling out the mistake, asking what Blizzard would be doing to make the situation right and how such an action could be legal.
Turns out, it might not be. Migliaccio & Rathod in its investigation is calling the fact that Blizzard took money for the gem and then later changed its description false advertising.
“Rather than offer refunds or some form of compensation, Blizzard has instead responded to the Blizzard community by stating that they will change the item’s text description to reflect its actual effect, at level three,” Migliaccio & Rathod write. “This practice essentially amounts to a bait-and-switch, since a purchasable item was advertised with one effect that players wanted and ended up with something completely different.”
In the law firm’s blog announcing the investigation, it thanked the Communication Workers of America (CWA) for bringing the issue to the firm’s attention. CWA is notably helping numerous groups of developers within Activision Blizzard unionize.
This is far from the first time Blizzard’s mobile ARPG has courted controversy. Diablo Immortal was heavily criticized following its launch last year for its microtransactions, where players could spend real money to become far more powerful than free-to-play users. Despite those complaints, Diablo Immortal still appears to be doing well financially, with Activision Blizzard announcing during its Q3 2022 financial results that the game has sat among the top-10 grossing mobile games in China since launch.
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