Diablo 3 RMAH Exploit: Blizzard Risks Class Action Lawsuit Over Gold Duping Bug

By Ural Garrett , Updated May 11, 2013 09:16 AM EDT
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Diablo 3's auction houses still remain offline since Blizzard shut it down Wednesday following a patch that triggered an exploit allowing users to disrupt the game's economy. 

Though the bug has been fixed, the shutdown of both gold and Real-Money Auction Houses are still frustrating enough players to the threat of a class-action lawsuit as Blizzard tries to audit every transaction that occurred since Tuesday.

Reddit user Tyropro explained the science behind the now infamous "gold dupe" that has been another blow to Blizzard. Here's the user's explaination below:

The gold "dupe" involved creating a RMAH auction for billions of gold while staying under the $250 limit. The example I saw in a video was 6 billion gold (600 x 10,000,000 at $0.39 per stack, for $234). When they posted this auction only ~1.7 billion appeared to be for sale, with the rest "missing" until they sent it to their stash and ended up with more than they started with. The exact numbers from a duping video:

Create RMAH auction for:            6,000,000,000 gold

Auction shows up as:                1,705,032,704 gold

This much is missing!               4,294,967,296 gold

The missing amount, divided by 2:   2,147,483,648 gold

2,147,483,648 (or 231) is the maximum value you can store in an int32 in programming. I'm no programmer, but I took one class in high school and was taught about the limits of different variable types. See: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/94591/what-is-the-maximum-value-for-a-int32 Simply put, their RMAH gold selling code wasn't written to handle numbers over 2,147,483,648 properly, and the result was duplicate gold being added to people's stashes.

A potential lawsuit can come if Blizzard can't rectify transactions that involve purchases in the RMAH. Those who have already exploited the bug could already have cashed out funds; a real problem for the developer. Some are even asking Blizzard to roll-back everything, ban those who participated in the exploit or flat out shut down the auction houses down for good.  

Blues News contributer Verno said that though Blizzard may be in a catch 22, the best option may be a roll-back.

The trouble with that is that just punishes a few people while leaving permanent, lasting damage to the games economy that affects everyone else. Those people who had their accounts suspended still used that money, bought items, spread it around, etc. Imagine quadrillions of gold, even if they managed to reverse half of that it would still permanently inflate and screw the economy. The only way to put the genie back in the bottle is a rollback, who was responsible and how they are punished is a secondary consideration for people playing. 

Diablo 3 has suffered from mounds of criticism since its launch last year including Blizzard's much criticized always-on DRM that forced players online for single-player along with the general idea of the RMAH.

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