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Blizzard donates money from Diablo III glitch to charity

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Diablo III (Credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard Entertainment is turning a potential PR disaster into a PR coup.

Last week, the developer discovered a programming bug that let players of the blockbuster role-playing game Diablo III duplicate their in-game gold, resulting in inflated prices in the game's auction house, which uses real-world money.

This weekend, Blizzard announced the bug has been fixed, the people who took advantage of it have been suspended or banned from the game, and the money those less than savory players raised is being donated to charity.

The bug came about when Blizzard lowered the price of gold in the auction house from 25 (real-world) cents for 1 million to 25 cents for 10 million. When players canceled a gold auction, they would be refunded twice the amount listed.

All totaled, 415 players took advantage of the loophole, according to Blizzard's John Hight, the production director for Diablo III, who detailed what happened in a blog post Saturday.

For a game as popular as Diablo III, that's a small percentage, but to take advantage of the bug, players had to have billions of gold pieces already stockpiled. Once players alerted Blizzard to the trouble, the auction house was taken offline and the company began an audit of all gold trades that had taken place since the bug was released with a recent patch.

"Many people bought and sold items and gold on the Auction House on Tuesday," said Hight. "We're making sure that all legitimate transactions go through. This means that if your account was not involved in the exploit, you will get to keep your items and gold, as well as any money you received from sales on the real-money Auction House. We'll also be donating all proceeds from auctions conducted by the suspended or banned players—including all of THEIR sale proceeds that we intercepted as well as our transaction fee—to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals."

Blizzard did not give a total on how much money would be donated.

Players generally gave Blizzard kudos for the philanthropic gesture, but many remained concerned about the game's economy. While 85% of the excess gold has been recaptured, some fans fear that the remaining amounts could still result in artificially high pricing for in-game items.

Blizzard has ruled out a server roll-back, though, as that would negate any in-game progress and auction house sales for all players, which it fears would make a bad situation worse.

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