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The teething problems continue for Diablo III following the rocky launch of the game's Real Money Auction House earlier this month. It seems that some people have sunk quite a bit of their hard-earned cash into the game, only to find Blizzard has turned around and modified the purchased items.
In fact, I no longer have the same item that I paid real money for. I have a fraction of it.
As far as Tarnished sees it - thanks to the recent 1.0.3 patch, his character's Diablo III DPS has dropped from "around 65k" to "around 45k", which is pretty significant.
However, as far as Blizzard sees it, the company had announced upcoming changes to attack speed, posting in forums and in patch notes and blog posts, including a Patch 1.0.3 Design Preview from Senior Technical Game Designer Wyatt Cheng, where he explains:
We’re fixing a number of bugs with Attack Speed, mainly related to the stat not working on some items, but we’ve also decided we need to reduce the effectiveness of Increased Attack Speed overall. Many players have commented that Increased Attack Speed is such a dominant stat they feel it’s required. While we don’t have an issue with there being important stats, Increased Attack Speed in particular has secondary effects on mobility in combat, resource generation and resource consumption. We want there to be options and considerations for how you gear up, and one uber trump-everything stat can really work against choice and options.
The Attack Speed nerf isn't one that'll win Blizzard any fans - many of whom are on the fence over Diablo III following recent gameplay changes and the loss of experience. That said, it was one that had been documented prior to the patch release, and - importantly - prior to the Real Money Auction House opening, meaning Tarnished should have been aware of it (particularly before dropping such a large amount of cash on a virtual item).
At the end of the day, Blizzard still owns Diablo III and all the virtual items contained in the game, regardless of how they are acquired. The company retains the rights to edit, modify, replace or remove any in-game item, and each player has agreed to these terms.
However: When making a significant change to a potentially game-breaking element, it looks like Blizzard may not be going as far as it could in order to make sure everybody is aware of what's going on. Posting patch notes and previews on a website and in a forum is one thing, and may reach the majority of players, but there are still plenty who only experience the game through the online client. Perhaps Tarnished's experience will prompt changes in the way changes are announced - and one good thing will come out of his unfortunate affair.
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