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Diablo III servers taken offline in Korea after item duplicating exploit discovered

Players of Blizzard’s Diablo III may need a persistent Internet connection to play the uber-popular dungeon crawler, but if the studio thought for one second that the connection would prevent people from cheating, they were downright delusional. Cheating, for fun and for profit, is as much a part of Diablo as loot obsession, lost sleep, and that amazing sloshing noise every time you use a health potion. Diablo III didn’t even make it a full month on shelves cheat free as, according to posts on the Korean Battle.net forums, intrepid players have already figured out how to duplicate items. Blizzard did the only thing it could: It took the Diablo III servers down.

Eurogamer reported on Monday morning that the most notorious of RPG exploits had been discovered in Diablo III. Blizzard said on Sunday in a Battle.net posting that it would be taking the game offline for maintenance but didn’t specify what specifically the studio would be working on. As the day progressed, updates on the site said more time would be necessary and the company offered no explanation as to when the Diablo III servers would be open again.

In the forums though, word was that people had finally figured out a way to duplicate items. While duplicating items in any game can create imbalances that ruin the game experience in multiplayer settings, item duplication is a threat to the entire Diablo III business. The studio will soon be opening an in game auction house where players can sell their Diablo items for real world money. Item duplication would cripple the game’s virtual economy before it even opened for business. It would also generate massive amounts of revenue for those pirating the game’s rare goods, while also potentially generating revenue for Blizzard since every sale of game items for real world money sees the studio take a percentage.

Blizzard has been ramping up security for Diablo III ahead of the auction house opening, concerned about not just item duplication but a host of fraudulent activities. All Diablo III players now need to use Battle.net Authenticator or the Battle.net Mobile Authenticator to play at all in order to add funds to their Battle.net wallet for purchasing goods in the auction house.

This is just the latest round of trouble plaguing Blizzard and Diablo III in Korea. The company’s Seoul offices were raided by government officials trying to determine whether Blizzard was guilty of misleading consumers with its Diablo III user agreement.