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Blizzard Entertainment forced a major shutdown of its gold and real-money auction houses in Diablo III on Wednesday after a mishap with coding caused a gold-duplication bug that players exploited for their own benefit. Now the houses and all gold trading are back in action, and Blizzard has taken what it considers to be an honest and positive approach to cleaning up the mess it started.
John Hight, the production director for Diablo III, took to the game’s forums today to inform players that it’s resolved the problem. He admitted that the bug came from a code oversight in Patch 1.0.8, which went live earlier this week.
“The bug was the result of a coding error that was exposed when we increased the gold stack size from 1 million to 10 million,” wrote Hight. “This resulted in an overflow on cancelled auctions that yielded a greater amount of gold in return. Only a relatively small number of players had the billions of gold necessary to exploit the bug, and only 415 of those players chose to use this exploit for personal gain.”
Blizzard was able to deploy the patch glitch-free in other regions because players reported the exploit hours after the patch hit the Americas.
“While this was happening, we locked accounts that appeared to be exploiting the bug as well as collaborators that held gold or items for the exploiters,” wrote Hight. “Once we confirmed that an account was involved in this exploit, we either banned or rolled back the account depending on their activity.”
Hight also explained why Blizzard decided against a complete rollback of the servers, which many players pushed for. “The vast majority of players did not participate in the exploit, and we didn’t like the idea of punishing them for the bad behavior of a few people,” he wrote. “… Many players made significant accomplishments in the game that required time and dedication, and we felt it was worth the work involved to try to preserve these efforts and go after the exploiters instead.”
Blizzard is now working to remove the duplicated gold from the in-game economy “through targeted audits and account actions.” The task is 85 percent complete, and the company is taking measures to prevent similar exploits from happening in the future.
It will also be donating all proceeds from the faulty auctions — including transaction fees and money it’s intercepted from culpable players’ sales — to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, which has raised more than $4.7 billion for 170 children’s hospitals across the United States and Canada in the past 30 years.