Normally, when reports start landing about a game being banned in some entire countries, the eyes of outraged gamers start looking at the government of that country in question. Sure, they usually swing back around to their own government as if in warning, but then they start looking at the country in question again. In the case of the recent discovery that battle.net, including World of Warcraft and Diablo 3
, is inaccessible in Iran, the question may not be so much "What did Iran do?" so much as it is "What did the United States do?"
While some reports out of Iran suggested that Iran did the blocking, citing things like "mythology", "violence", and "revealing clothing"--those who wonder about the hypocrisy of forbidding violent video games
in Iran are not at all alone--new reports from Blizzard itself suggest that Iran's bizarre cultural peccadilloes were really rather moot anyway, as the United States government forbade their doing business in those countries thanks to government sanctions.
Blizzard has even gone so far as to say that it cannot issue credits, or refunds, to those players who have already paid in, but will "happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows".
The issue, at least from the outside looking in, looks like nothing so much as a "you can't fire me; I quit!" exchange, with Iran insisting that it's dumping Blizzard over principle and Blizzard insisting it's all a legal matter. Meanwhile, right in the middle of the whole mess, are the consumers who want to get in and crank up a raid in their off hours, but are forbidden from doing so by a pair of dueling governments.
It's a terrible situation for most of the folks involved. The gamers are cut off from their fun, Blizzard is out who knows how many subscribers--bad enough when Blizzard's earlier losses are factored in--and both governments don't exactly come off looking like saints in the whole mess, not to mention the unintentional ill will that Blizzard will have to fend off from Iranian players who, if they can't play, at least want their money back, which Blizzard can't provide without breaking US law.
It's a bad situation all the way around, and shows clearly the problems that can emerge when games and politics intermingle. Hopefully all sides will be able to resolve their problems soon, and the Iranian dwarves, elves, Taurens and the like will be able to get back to gaming soon.