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March 14, 2005

Blizzard Bans Users Who Break Terms of Use

Joystiq and Game Girl Advance both reported on Blizzard banning accounts that were used for "Gold Farming" over the weekend. For those of you not familiar with the world of MMORPGs, Gold Farming is big business. People go around, and just kill monsters for high priced items and sell it off to make in-game money. They then sell the in-game money on places like ebay for real money. This is also done with rare magic items. The practice has been going on for ages. I remember hearing about people doing the same with Ultima Online and Evercrack.

The thing I'm finding baffling about both the posts on this is they seem to be coming down hard on Blizzard. Joystiq asks:

So, you pay for the game, pay your monthly subscription, only for Blizzard to say "you did something we don't want you to do, goodbye", and they kill your account. That's $50 wasted since, as was reported a while back, you can't transfer the serial number. Once it's used, it's used. Where should the line be drawn on what you can and can't do in a game you pay for initially, and continue to pay for every month? If people are stupid enough to buy a game's currency for hard cash, why shouldn't that be a legitimate activity? [Joystiq]

The answer is simple. You are breaking the policies that Blizzard has set forth for how they will run their game. This was not some secret policy that nobody knew of. On the World of Warcraft Policy Page it's right at the top of the announcements link. They even say what they will do to people they catch doing it (Of course, this gets to an even larger rant I have about how people don't read any of the game policies when playing). If this had come out of the blue I'd be able to understand complaints, but it didn't.

What do people think? If you are providing a service, should you be able to set the rules for the use of it? Does it matter if it is a game or something like an ISP? Or should having paid money immediately mean you can do what you want with that service, regardless of any Terms of Use?

Posted by snooze at March 14, 2005 12:32 PM

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Simple answer: if you don't like the ToS for a game, then don't give them money to play it. Go play a game that you agree with the rules.

Posted by: Alan Gerow [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2005 01:35 PM

I'm fine with them being able to enforce their Terms of Service, but I don't understand why they have that restriction. I guess I can sort of see the "fairness" issue, but then why do they allow players to transfer money at all? I totally don't get the "we own all content" argument, either. They still own the "content" (is a gold piece anything more than just an integer variable somewhere?) regardless of which avatar it belongs to.

Posted by: Doug Orleans [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2005 03:48 PM

Hm, I just thought of something, I wonder if paying real money for in-game money counts as gambling, since the in-game money comes from killing monsters and combat is based on random number generation. If so, maybe they're just worried about legal sanctions from the US government.

Posted by: Doug Orleans [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2005 03:51 PM

Yeah, I didn't choose to address why they had the policy. I've heard lots of arguments either way. One of the biggest is that it tends to screw with the in-game economy. The point I found more interesting was that Blizzard had said months ago that they would do this. And yet, when they do, everyone is like "wha? how dare they! what are they doing!"

My feeling is that Blizzard is running a MUD, and like any other MUD the wizards/gods in charge of their MUD can run it however they please. They don't need a reason for their policies.

Posted by: gregory [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2005 05:39 PM

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