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Friday, July 19, 2024 | Back issues
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‘World of Warcraft’ Publisher Sues Bot-Makers

(CN) - The publisher of "World of Warcraft" claims a software company has made "tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in unjust profits" by selling a bot that enables people to cheat at the multiplayer online computer game.

Blizzard Entertainment sued Ceiling Fan Software and its owners Brian Becker and Stanton Fraser, in Orange County Court, Calif.

Blizzard claims the Ohio-based defendants make and distribute a "Pocket Gnome" bot, which "enables players to cheat in the WoW game by 'automating' gameplay, including by completing in-game tasks and building characters with little or no human participation."

Blizzard claims this has caused it "substantial and irreparable harm," by "destroying the integrity of the WoW game, alienating and frustrating legitimate players, and diverting revenue from Blizzard to defendants. Defendants have received tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in unjust profits from the sale of Pocket Gnome," according to the complaint.

"Defendants are well aware that their actions are prohibited and unlawful," Blizzard says. It claims the defendants acknowledge this on their website, which states: "'Is Pocket Gnome a violation of the Terms of Service (ToS)? Yes. Pocket Gnome is absolutely against the ToS. There aren't enough superlatives in the English language to fully convey how against the rules this is. If you get caught, you will probably be banned. So be smart and don't get caught.'" (Parentheses in complaint.)

Blizzard claims that to make Pocket Gnome, Ceiling Fan had to create WoW accounts to test the bot, which itself violated the terms of service.

"Blizzard has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in creating and maintaining WoW," the complaint states. "... As a result of Blizzard's investment of time and money, WoW has become the most popular online role-playing game in the world," the complaint states. "In the approximately 7 years since it was released, more than 10 million people around the world have played," and continue to play the game, Blizzard says.

Blizzard seeks an injunction and punitive damages for unfair competition, breach of terms of service and intentional interference with contractual relations.

It adds that in 2010 it banned defendant Fraser from the game, for using bots to play: "At the time he was banned, Fraser had amassed 78 high-level WoW characters, almost certainly intending to sell those characters, in further violation of the ToU [terms of use]."

Blizzard is represented by Marc Mayer with Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp, of Los Angeles.

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