In early 2002, after building the warnings section on Diabloii.net and receiving literally dozens of emails a day from people who had been ripped off in one hack or scam or another, Flux eventually grew angry enough at the constant hacking, and Blizzard's apparent indifference to it, to write a heated editorial on the issue. It is quoted below, and followed by a selection of the reader comments it generated, all taken from the warnings archives.
In retrospect, the situation was less dire than it seemed at the time. Blizzard did eventually get more of a handle on stopping the hacks, they did start banning accounts and deleted hacked items, and their regular ladder resets provided an incentive to players to start over again with new characters in a new, un-cheated economy. All measures Flux advocated in the editorial.
Why are There So Many Hacks?
Replies to this editorial and more discussion of the issue can be seen here, along with an update in late February, now that Blizzard is actually, at last, punishing some hackers.
The main problem is that Blizzard has made no concerted effort to punish cheaters. Appropriate punishment, such as character or account deletion, up to CD-key banning, would keep there from being so many repeat offenders, and also make most casual cheaters afraid to try it, for fear of being caught and given the boot.
Instead of having and enforcing clear rules about hacking, Blizzard does nothing but issue never-enforced warnings, and has their support team fix hacks/cheats once they are discovered. Since there isn't any punishment for hacking, hackers of course try to find new methods constantly, and as soon as Blizzard fixes one, others appear. This means that Blizzard's tech support is forever chasing around, trying to figure how new exploits are being done, and then figuring ways to stop them, and the hackers are always at least one step ahead.
For a real life example, if there weren't laws saying you couldn't steal from stores, and they just had a guard walking around every now and then, everyone with a weak morality, or who was just curious, would try to steal a TV. Imagine then if when you were caught, the guard would just put the TV back, and let you go free. You'd keep trying until you were successful, and pretty soon everyone who wanted to would have a new TV in every room of their house.
This is Battle.net today. There are rules about hacking, but there is no enforcement, and hackers keep trying new methods until they manage to steal that TV. Since in real life you might want that TV, but you know if you get caught trying to steal it you'll be arrested, jailed, fined, etc, you don't try to steal if in the first place.
Battle.net has no police, or laws, or courts, or jails. Blizzard talks about hacks being illegal, but they've been doing that since D1 was released, and to our knowledge, they've never actually punished anyone, in any way, for hacking in the game. We've certainly heard from enough dupers, cheaters, hackers, etc who say they've never been punished for their actions. Blizzard does work with the FBI and other law enforcement to try and stop "Denial of Service" hacking attacks on their servers, but they've done nothing about people cheating in their games.
With the profits to be had in game items, or real money for selling game items on Ebay, there is constant incentive for dishonest players to try and cheat, and with no punishment or consequences for their efforts, they of course try and try and try, until they succeed. Many hackers just do it out of curiosity; having grown bored with the game they like to try and figure out how it works, and see what they can manipulate. If they are clever they eventually find things that can be exploited, and all too often their discoveries are spread to other people who just want to profit from the exploit, and could care less about how it's done.
So why doesn't Blizzard enforce their own rules? It's unknown.
Individual Blizzard employees we've talked to are always in favor of harsh punishments for hackers, up to and including CD-key banning and account deletion, but somehow none of that ever happens. Someone at Blizzard in upper management, legal, or PR, keeps denying all of the necessary and realistic efforts their working employees suggest to deal with hackers and hacks. This wimpy attitude has allowed the hackers to basically ruin Diablo II on the realms, and forces the Blizzard technical support team work fifty times harder, since they have to waste so many man hours tracking down hacks and cheats and fix problems. And as soon as they do, the people who created those problems just go to work finding more ways to cause new problems, with no punishment to stop them. Who knows how much more smoothly the Realms would run if there wasn't a constant strain on the servers by hacking attempts, and the Bnet tech guys weren't spending so much time fixing hacks, instead of optimizing performance?
Is there a solution?
If Blizzard ever gets their act together, and their programmers are allowed to do what needs to be done, without interference from clueless upper management or legal or whoever is stopping them from putting their foot down, hackers can be stopped. If Blizzard stopped posting meaningless warnings to not use hacks, warnings that are totally ignored since they are never enforced, and instead banned the CD-keys and deleted all accounts of 20 or 50 or 100 well-known hackers, it would be like a bomb going off in the hacking community. Blizzard might consider banning the sales of game items for real money on eBay and elsewhere, since profit is a major incentive to the cheaters.
It's probably too late to save D2 now, there are such vast quantities of hacked and duped items out there that the economy is permanently tainted. Many, many players have lost interest in playing since dupes and hacked items have become so common; for advanced players, the fun was not in surviving or leveling up, since that was so easy. The fun was in trying to find the really rare and valuable items, both for their trade value, and just to have them. When every no-talent noob has 5 Windforces or Grandfathers, and an inventory full of perfect MF charms, it seems pointless to work hard to try and find your own loot honestly.
One long-popular idea is to do some realm splitting, making USEast 2, USWest 2, etc, with perhaps 25% of the current realm capacity. The amount of servers dedicated to the new half-realms could be raised or lowered depending on how popular they were. On these new realms players could start over again with a clean economy and play the game as the game was meant to be played. Anyone found trying to hack on those new realms would have their accounts deleted and their CD-key banned.
Just having a certain punishment out there would deter the vast majority of hackers, and only guys who were bored of the game and didn't really care anymore would still try to hack, but even if they found methods and posted them, most players would be too afraid of being caught and banned to try them.
Diablo II has utterly succumbed to hackers and dupes at this point, largely because Blizzard has made no enforcement/punishment efforts towards hackers. Many players have grown too disillusioned with the state of the game on the realms to bother playing anymore. Blizzard doesn't have any real financial incentive to stop hacking now on D2, since they've sold so many copies already, but hopefully they'll learn some lessons from this for their future titles, such as World of Warcraft, which will require a monthly fee to play, and where players will demand far better anti-hacking support than they've gotten with Diablo II.
Follow Up and Reader Comments
Of the 60 or 70 initial emails on this topic, no more than 5 have been in defense of Blizzard's actions (inactions?). Here's one.
- I read the Warnings page today, and I have a few comments I'd like to voice. Handling abusers is not as easy as it appears.
- First of all, in-game dupe bugs are impossible to track. Just because a user logs on and off 35 times in an hour doesn't mean they're abusing some sort of item duplication bug. All kinds of weird stuff has happened to me while playing D2. I've lost skill points for no reason, not gotten quest rewards, had items mysteriously duplicate under circumstances I could never reproduce, and all kinds of other bugs and glitches. These are all impossible to track, and even if they could track them, how would Blizzard differentiate between malicious hacking and circumstance?
- Secondly, in order to successfully ban hack-using dupers, Blizzard would have to construct software to detect the version of the hack software that dupers use. Playing Starcraft, we saw new versions of the maphack come out as soon as 12 hours after Blizzard's "fix." To every Blizzard programmer working on Diablo, there are a hundred hacker kiddies out there working on ways to get around their patches and fixes. Blizzard could probably construct a program to detect users using Mousepad's maphack, but how long before someone figures out how the detect program works and circumvents it? Blizzard would have to assign programmers to finding new ways to detect hacks around the clock. Battle.net being a free service, and Diablo 2 being a fairly old game with relatively little support, this is unlikely at best.
- Thirdly, in order to appropriately punish hackers and cheaters, Blizzard would have to implement some sort of objective punishment system. How would you punish a maphacker, a person who uses duped items unknowingly, a person who sells duped items on e-bay, a person who actively dupes? What sort of proof would Blizzard require before suspending or banning a user? I can envision a scenario where Battle.net begins to resemble Everquest, where Verant bans or demotes users almost indiscriminately without providing proof of the user's misconduct. Would any of this really help? Would Blizzard ban a user based on emails and screenshots of supposed offenses sent in by other users? How many innocent users would end up banned because idiots and PKs Photoshopped screenshots to show Javazon_01 saying "I maphack and I duped 10 windforces today?"
- A Realm split would be a great idea, until the next round of dupe hacks become popular. It's naive of us to assume that creating a clean server would do anything but postpone the problem.
- Honestly speaking, there isn't an online game in the world that's free of hacks, abusable bugs, or glitches of all kinds. Diablo 2 is easily one of the most stable and least bug-ridden Massive Multiplayer Game on the Internet. If you want examples, look at Anarchy Online. Battle.net is a free service, it's relatively free of service outages, and apart from the occasional duping scheme, it's pretty much bug free. I've lost equipment that I traded for to the dupe detector. It sucks, and I don't know that it's the best solution to the problem, but I honestly can't think of anything better. In the three days after the massive dupe-caused lag, I leveled a character to 80 and found over 50 uniques and set items... if Blizzard rolled back, I would have been more upset than anybody who ever lost a duped Windforce or Ohmed Grandfather.
- I think the gaming community owes it to Blizzard to appreciate what they're doing for us, instead of constantly pointing fingers at them for what they should be doing better. Yes, there are hacks and dupes. It's not their fault for "faulty programming" any more than it's Microsoft's fault that someone figured out a way to put a back door into Outlook. For every one security programmer, there are a thousand people trying to figure out a way to crack the game.
- Those aren't particularly good odds, but Diablo 2 is holding up pretty well regardless.
He makes some good points, but our main point in the initial editorial is that 1) Blizzard isn't making any effort to stop hacking, other than fixing hacks as they are found, and 2) making a few examples of hackers would be tremendous deterrent to others. The reason that "For every one security programmer, there are a thousand people trying to figure out a way to crack the game." is because those thousand people know there aren't any punishments if they are caught trying.
A few others have asked how Blizzard would identify hackers in the first place.
There could be some software on the realms to monitor what players were doing; in some cases hacking sends unusual packets to the servers that causes the hacks to work; packets that are never sent ordinarily. Track who is sending those packets, and if they do it repeatedly they are obviously up to something.
Blizzard could have some employees go undercover; hackers are generally quite eager to talk about their successes, sell their techniques to other players for a few SoJs, sell items on Ebay, etc. It's not like they are trying to keep sneaky and silent, they usually brag about their actions. Also Blizzard should encourage players to report others who were cheating. If there were multiple reports about the same person, they'd go on a list to watch.
Our point in the initial editorial is that Blizzard could greatly reduce the amount of hacking and cheating going on with very little additional effort. Instead of just running around trying to slap a band-aid on existing hacks, they need to make an example of a few dozen cheaters, and post the names of banned accounts, and make sure everyone knows that it's happened. The "real" hackers finding techniques are a problem, but the real disasters are when a new method becomes widely known, and then hundreds of kids use it to make thousands of dupes or hacked items in a very short time. If there was a known punishment for cheating, and you risked having your accounts deleted and your cd-key banned, that would drastically cut down on the number of kids who would use a newly-found hacking method.
In my opinion, at least.
Another reply defending Blizzard, but for a different reason.
- It is evident to me that Blizzard is run by corporate types who want bottom line profit. The state of BNET today contributes to that profit, so they let it be the way it is. I'll elaborate.
- Star Craft, WarCraft, and Diablo are all paid for upfront. The major thing that Blizz has enforced is the necessity of having valid CD keys on the BNET. You can't use a generated or duplicated key 99.9% of the time on the BNET. If you do have a legit key that is public, only one person can use it at a time, and this of course ultimately discourages everyone from using it, because it's always in use.
- So, this forces people to actually BUY the game. You want to burn a copy, go right ahead. Use a generated key? Go ahead. But Blizz knows the big draw for SC and D2 is the BNET. And you can't get on the closed BNET without a real, paid for key. And if someone steals your key, you have to actually send the CD case to Blizz and then they send you a new CD case, and you have to re-install the software with the new key. That's a pain of course, but tough.
- Since Blizz has captured the revenue upfront off of over 6 million copies of Diablo, D2, and D2X, at 40$ on average, they have decided to apply that revenue to the creation of another product that will generate them more new revenue, and to create a product that will generate a recurring revenue stream, rather than using it to support heavily a product that won't make them another penny. Smart business sense, with almost zero emotion attached to it. The patches they have applied deal primarily with fixing glitches in the software so people won't RETURN the game, because then they lose that revenue. Fixing hacks and other artificially introduced problems they consider less (un) important because they won't cause a user to return the game because he can't play it.
- These new products are WCIII and WoW, which I'm sure you are familiar with. WCIII will be a non-persistent world, easily migrated onto the existing battlenet structure. The only cheats they'll have to worry about there will be maphacks and the like. Nothing that can be sold for profit on ebay or anything persistent at all. Games are finite, and the only thing persistent will be player/clan records. Hacks on these things are cheap to fix and will not really cause a person to return the software for their money back. So, Blizz has no worries moving WCIII to the current BNET. It's a cheap, fast migration for them. They also capture a boatload of new revenue up front, enough to continue to fund their operations (150+ people, not cheap. I estimate their annual burn rate to be over 20 million dollars on the conservative side).
- They will use this money to produce and polish WoW, which will be a persistent world more like an MMORPG, more sophisticated and developed than D2, like an everquest or something. They will charge $10 (or something) per month, along with the base upfront software cost, and I GUARANTEE they will be actively fixing hacks, cheats, banning CD-Keys, terminating accounts, and banning the sale of any virtual items on Ebay or Yahoo etc. The reason for that is because that would cause people to stop paying their $10, if they got sick of the hacks and the game was spoiled by cheaters.
- They leave D2 on BNET mostly unchanged for a few reasons. One, they have captured all the revenue already. Two, they are using it as a seed bed for WoW, learning all the tricks they can off the hackers in order to implement new methods to defeat those hacks on WoW when it comes out, but not on D2. Consider D2 a guinea pig for the REAL product, which will be WoW, the persistent, monthly recurring charge, residual income cash cow that all companies strive for. It's the holy grail of all capitalist pursuits, and the Board at Blizz knows this and that is their ultimate goal.
- So you see, leaving D2 as is makes them money. They aren't wasting it supporting it, and they are using the experience they gain watching people attack it to craft the engine that will power their future golden goose, WoW. This theory can also be applied to the total lack of development on a new StarCraft. Why is there no new SC? Because the WoW is based on Warcraft. If WoW was WoSC, then WCIII would be SC II. You get it? Parallel development of separate products garnering dual revenue streams is a classic MBA tactic, striven for and found in every Fortune 1000 board room in the world. Blizz is all about the money baby, and they aren't swayed by the emotional importuning (whining) of teenagers and twenty-something teenagers who want D2 to be the center of Blizz's universe.
- I enjoy your work! I hope it will extend to WCIII and WoW, and here's to Blizz, Adam Smith would be proud!
- Derek Swanson
Blizzard would of course fiercely dispute this, and they have a good record of continued product support. There were Starcraft maps of the week for years after the game was released, and the D2 realms cost quite a bit to maintain. That amount of bandwidth is not at all cheap, trust me. ;)
Besides WoW and War3, Blizzard has at least 2 or 3 other projects (games?) well underway, and we'll find out about one of the two underway at Blizzard North soon, possibly at E3 in May, or certainly as ECTS in September. One at BN has been underway with a full team since D2 was released, so it's had over a year and a half of heavy work on it, and should be well underway, at least as far towards completion as War3 and WoW were when they were first announced.
One factor not mentioned by Derek is public relations. Blizzard depends on current users to buy their new games. Almost everyone buying War3 or WoW are people who own most or all other Blizzard titles, and their company loyalty among consumers is very strong. We know that a new Blizzard game will be great, so even if it's not a genre we normally like, we'll certainly consider buying it. I can't tell you how many emails I've gotten or forum posts I've seen by players who are furious about Blizzard's failure to deal with hacks/dupes/etc in D2 on Bnet, and who swear they'll never buy another Blizzard title ever. Now how many of those people will really carry out their boycott is unknown, but obviously Blizzard doesn't want anyone to feel that way, much less hundreds or thousands of players, and if they can stop players from feeling that way, they'll do so.
Also, Blizzard is paying multiple people now to continue work supporting D2, or at least Battle.net. The problem is that these tech support people are only being used to fix hacks once they are discovered, and the company policy is to do nothing (other than make unenforced warnings) to deter hackers from trying in the first place. As we have stated numerous times, if Blizzard made some effort to punish hackers and stop hacking before it got started, the amount of resources (money and employees) they were expending on Battle.net now would be far more effective at stopping cheaters.
Another mail from a computer industry professional elaborates on some of Derek's points:
- The message about Blizzard not fixing the hacks due to business motivation is definitely closest to the truth. It's a strange thing, when you're in the business of making games. Business should not be influenced by passion or a sense of "right and wrong" that grows out of control. Games, however, are all about that.
- The biggest business problem Blizzard faces is dealing with the damage done to their brand both by the hackers and, I feel more importantly, themselves. Anyone who has followed this drama will have two very strong impressions in his head when he sees the Blizzard logo on the WC3 box: will it be safe? And will they be responsive? Blizzard is always so mum about things, that they may actually have a good reason why they don't ban CD keys. You and I can only guess about it. The fact that it can crop up on a hugely-popular site like diabloii.net and draw no response from Blizzard is something that everyone is aware of, subconsciously. Why don't they say anything? Their impression of indifference is very strong, and very negative. I will buy WC3 because it's a good game, but it has nothing to do with Battle.net.
- Also, in the hard business model, there's an interesting twist on maintaining Battle.net. There are games on the shelves that are being sold because of Battle.net. Customers are putting down money, IN GOOD FAITH, that the functionality advertised on the box will be there. Keeping Battle.net "up" may be a bare minimum, but one could easily make a case that by not addressing the problems which plague Battle.net properly, they are fraudulently selling a fake product and/or advertising falsely. How long has the skill hack been present? If I find the Battle.net experience so horrible that it's unusable (it does say "secure" on the box), what is my recourse? It would not stand up in a court of law, but it's getting closer. And when things are close to standing up, that's when you know you're crossing ethical lines in business.
- It really comes down to their customer impression, though. Most everyone has the impression that Blizzard is an incredibly talented team that cares very little for its customers. And sooner or later, that will come to cost them. The question is, will it cost them more than the salary of a couple developers and a program manager? It's hard to imagine them being so short-sighted on their business goals, but history is filled with companies who have made equally stupid mistakes. All it takes is one decision-maker in the right (or wrong) place.
- Michael Donnelly
- Systems Architect
- Fifth Phase, Inc
Some excellent points made there. The last sentence is interesting, and though I hate to say it, seems entirely possible. As we said in the initial editorial, all of the individual Blizzard employees we've talked to are very anti-hacking, and would like to stop it, and pre-game said that they'd take strong measures to do so. So why does nothing happen to cheaters and hackers now, when it would be so easy to at least try to enforce the rules against such clear and obvious violations of Blizzard's listed Terms of Service and End User License Agreement?
The obvious answer is that someone, in legal, or PR, or upper management, is setting the company policy of non-communication and non-enforcement, and no one else is willing or able to change that policy.
- I've talked to Blizzard employees about hacking also, and I suspect that if it were possible to take a company wide poll at blizzard, at least 75% of the employees would be in favor of harsh crack downs on cheaters, dupers, etc. All of them that I've talked to about it in the past mentioned that they would like to stop hacking completely, and if that meant banning or deleting cd-keys, that's what they'd do.
- So the mystery is why they don't do it? My impression is that someone in charge, somewhere relatively divorced from the actual game creation (or mood of the players), advises that they not do it, and no one really wants to stand up and battle over it. All of the Bliz guys are really nice, perhaps too nice. They just want to make games and hire good people and enjoy work. Super long hours and pressure and such sure, but they aren't capable of taking on real leadership roles, and making hard decisions that must be made in non-game-design areas. So they have some business trained people running things, and they somehow figure they have to do what the MBAs tell them, in terms of customer relations.
- Also someone keeps the common employees there from posting in forums, emailing Fansites, posting .plan files, and making other communications that virtually every other gaming company does constantly. The employees would like to talk, but someone is stopping them from doing so. This becomes especially obvious when there is some huge outbreak of problems, like duping or hacking or whatever, we very seldom get any reply of any sort from blizzard, other than maybe some short bulls**t post in their status forum.
- Take War3 beta for example. Huge team works on the game for years, and now we're in the beta, and there are ZERO posts by anyone on the actual war 3 team. Some from a tech support guy, and various short and pointless replies to newbie questions by Geoff, their web guy. Where the hell is the war3 team to discuss game features, patch changes, etc? We hear they are playing, we hear they are testing, but why don't they say anything or discuss their motivations or ideas for game changes? There's no way none of them want to talk, so they must have someone telling them not to.
- Players would forgive much if bliz just talked about the issues, said what they were working on, said what had been fixed, etc. But they never do, and I think they have someone in charge somewhere who is telling them that communication with fans is unprofessional. All of the guys running Bliz are basically big kids. Gaming fans, great developers, but none of them know s**t about running a company, so their mysterious Minister of Information tells them to sit down and be quiet, and they think since he/she has a business degree that means he/she knows best.
- Blizzard's popularity almost works against them, since they are so popular now that they can pick and choose their previews. Gamespot, Gamespy, etc, and all of the PC gaming mags would do a Bliz preview every month if they could. Bliz has so many people lining up to buy their products and do interviews with them, run fansites for free about them, they are just spoiled by it. They don't need to interact honestly with the fans like most other companies do, they don't need to discuss feature changes, they can just do whatever the hell they want, ignore all critical comments, put a short bit of info into their patch.txt files, and watch the money roll in. Obviously Blizzard makes great games, but they aren't very responsive to making changes over time, and they are horrible about communicating their changes. Given how popular their titles are, they certainly seem to inspire an amazing amount of angry customers.
- I think if they keep on their current tactics and lack of communication, they'll have an implosion of fan rage after about 4 or 5 months of WoW, since MMOs require far more communication and discussion of changes than other games do, and all successful MMOs have numerous community relations people, devs post lots of discussion about their philosophy, etc. Players feel they have much more of a stake in MMOs since they are ever-changing and persistent, and I think Blizzard will go into WoW thinking they can just do their changes in secret and let players find out what they are through brief patch.txt's, and will be surprised at how much more players demand.
- It would be great if they'd get a clue about community relations before then, but I doubt it will happen until monthly fees (and the loss of them through canceled accounts) are involved. And even then, if there are 300k people instantly into WoW, and more joining every month, Bliz might just blow off the minority of angry players and be happy counting their money from new subscribers.
I don't have much to add to that, it's basically what most emailers say, though in more detail.
- First of all, I fully agree that the hacks ruined the battle.net and there must be something done against them.
- But, as I understand it, account deletion and cd-key banning would at best keep the casual hacker from hacking. The real harm is done to the realms by a rather small group of massive hackers.
- It's long ago that I tried battle.net but did you have to tell your name or town or any data to create an account? I don't think so.
- So, what in the world would keep the hackers from creating a new account, or, in the case of cd-key deletion, from walking into the next games store and buy another copy of D2 and with that a new CD-Key, if they can make a thousands of dollars by exploiting their hacks?
- It would make the hacker's job a bit more complicated and less profitable and perhaps would scare of a few of them, but i'm afraid it wouldn't do the job it'd be supposed to do.
- I'm afraid that D2 on battle.net is dead and it is on us, simply to bury it.
- A bit negative and pessimistic, I know, but I'm afraid, it's the truth and we can only hope for Blizzard having learned from it for D3 :).
There have long been suggestions that CD-keys require a credit card to activate, so Blizzard would have an actual identity connected to them. Some have suggested that accounts be locked to CD-keys, or even credit cards as well. Even though there's no money required, it would add accountability. Blizzard has never done this (though they will with WoW, since it'll be a monthly fee) since they know that lots of their players don't have a credit card, and they don't have the Battle.net infrastructure set up yet to deal with this anyway.
I disagree with his statement that stopping the casual hacker isn't the main goal. What's worse, 10 people using a hack or dupe, or 500? Most of the real hackers do it largely out of curiosity, they like to see how the game works, and they often tell Blizzard how a new hack works, so it's fixed before it goes wide. There have been duping techniques ongoing since D2 was released. Most have been very difficult to get to work, and have been kept mostly secret, so there have always been dupes around, but never in great quantity. This changed in D2X in early 2002, when an easy method was released to the general public (after Bliz had been warned about it well in advance, and said nothing and didn't fix it) and massively exploited. What more evidence do you want that cheats are worse when used by many as opposed to used by few?
- Diablo 2 LOD used to be a really fun game. The main challenge for me (since I don't PK) was to try to get the hard-to-find items that everyone wanted, or items that I wanted to use on my characters to make then stronger, faster, or have more magic find. Some of the items came easily, but many others didn't. The idea of trading my found items to others was part of the fun of the game.
- When the game first came out, the main areas that brought joy (or disappointment) was to find an item that I hadn't found before, or to try a new character style. The new character styles are quickly used up as time passes, but there are still quite a number of items that I have never found in the game. I don't use hacks or cheats in the game, and I consider the use of them to be extremely unrewarding to anyone other than the individual that is doing the cheating. The idea that someone is much happier getting a traded duped item because he has never found the same type of item has always been a weak argument to me. I would much rather trade for a real item that someone else had the luck of finding but didn't need (further spreading the joy so that they could get items that they, themselves hadn't found yet).
- The mass duping in the game that is tolerated now has totally destroyed the Diablo economy (and this has been recognized by both diabloii.net by not allowing trades on the market, and by blizzard who has not restarted the trading forums). The items that were so elusive before and commanded such a high value, are now practically worthless (as is everything else in the game). The mass duping has gotten to the point now, that even when I do find an exceptional unique that I never found before, there is little joy in it because it now retains so low of a value to others. All of my friends (in various different parts of the United States) used to play together in our quest to find the ever-elusive items. Now, all of them have quit playing since there isn't any reason left. We have all tried the different characters, and the items that used to be so elusive can easily be traded from a duper for a comparatively low value.
- Hopefully Blizzard will learn from all of the legit players that are leaving the game, and the dupers will have fun trying to trade their dupes to the remaining dupers, since no legal people will be left to play the game. Hacks and duping have destroyed what was fun. I have to say that the game no longer holds any joy for me as well, and with no remaining friends left in the game to play with, I will be quitting it and the diabloii.net market shortly as well.
Sadly this is about how I feel myself. I've not played at all since mid-January, when the real duping epidemic broke out. I had characters of every class over Clvl 80, all Hardcore, and 4 chars with over 400% MF, including my 700% MF Baba. The game is very easy, too easy, once you have good equipment, and killing monsters and surviving isn't a challenge, even if you play real areas, rather than just doing Bloody or Cow runs. My fun was in finding great items, often to give away to friends, I just enjoyed finding them in the first place, even if I had no real use for them.
Exp leeching has ruined leveling up, since you can gain levels faster leeching in cow runs than playing honestly, and now duping has ruined item finding, since it seems pointless to work hard for your own item finds when every newbie has a dozen duped grandfathers and 500 SoJs.
And yes, I shouldn't care what other players have, or what level other players are, I should play with friends and have fun myself, and not worry about others cheating. But that's easier to say and think than do, as the hundreds of legit players who have quit the past month would agree.