Blizzard Lawsuit, WoW exploits, and potential hypocrisy?

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, October 19, 2010

* Moved from my previous post "A whole lot of cheating going on.."

Blizzard's gaze is currently upon those (SC2) hack developers, but much like Sauron's gaze - it shifts frequently. I'm expecting the same swift and decisive actions on these recent WoW cheaters in the same manner. These exploits and cheats completely DESTROY the gold markets, fairness, and ruin the enjoyment and participation of a competitive online experience (just like what Blizzard claimed in their lawsuit.)

"When users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they copy StarCraft II copyrighted content into their computer's RAM in excess of the scope of their limited license, as set forth in the EULA and ToU, and create derivative works of StarCraft II."

"The harm to Blizzard from Defendants' conduct is immediate, massive and irreparable."

"By distributing the Hacks to the public, Defendants cause serious harm to the value of StarCraft II. Among other things, Defendants irreparably harm the ability of Blizzard's legitimate customers (i.e. those who purchase and use unmodified games) to enjoy and participate in the competitive online experience. That, in turn, causes users to grow dissatisfied with the game, lose interest in the game, and communicate that dissatisfaction, thereby resulting in lost sales of the game or 'add-on' packs and expansions thereto."
So if Blizzard actually believes this statement to be true, they'll definitely action this exploitive behavior within a week minimum. If they don't stand by their beliefs, however, they'll probably just hotfix the issue, leave the players alone, and then ban them much later when it suits their purpose.

After all, these exploits are truly game breaking and completely destroying the economy (while also ruining a legitimate player's experience.) So, I'm really interested to see how quickly they'll action this, especially after preaching about SC2 cheaters and the serious harm they have caused to the value of their games and their legitimate customers.

How long will it take to action? SC2 cheaters were banned on Oct 1 and then Blizzard launched their lawsuit by Oct 16. Will Blizzard fix this customer-impacting issue and practice what they preach, or will they instead use this as a strategy to improve revenue? It will be a good example of whether they stand by their "stated beliefs" or not.

The Global Cooldown (GDC) Hack also comes to mind. This has been exploited for not just days, weeks, or months but rather YEARS. Even in the most recent Ladder Arena Tournaments it has been estimated that almost 3/4 of all players have cheated using the GCD hack and obtained their Gladiator titles unfairly. Blizzard banned very few people and there are probably tens-of-thousands (if not hundreds-of-thousands) of players who have used the GDC hack without any fear or action by Blizzard.

It's scary to think of all of the cheaters out there. From all of the various official announcements, Blizzard has banned millions of players for online cheating. MILLIONS! I wouldn't be surprised if 50% of all online players have knowingly cheated or have exploited bugs.

On a side note,

Their new lawsuit actually worries me a bit. I don't care that Blizzard is going after cheaters and the developers of these applications (like BnetD), but I am concerned about the repercussions. If successful, it will set a legal precedent that single-player or multi-player cheats or addons/mods (even when acceptable) would be completely illegal. Virus scanners, operating systems, performance apps, tools for impaired users, etc all fit within Blizzard's classification, and it would make it very easy for them to be able to sue any software developer or users of these tools (harsh charges, prison time, etc). Blizzard probably wouldn't do that of course (bad for PR), but the case would be available for other (less savory lawyers) to reference and many people could suffer badly as a result.

The thing is, Blizzard claims that these hacks cause irreparable harm. But that's not actually true: the harm CAN be repaired by hotfixes, patches, player bans, and resetting Ladders & Seasons - all of which they already do quite frequently. All of the players cheating to get Honor Gear for example will lose it all next season.

Blizzard also knew about the map hack tool the minute it was released (they even stated that they were following it's initial development), and there have always been tons of Starcraft 1 maphacks available. Warden uses hash values to determine whether a user is running a Maphack or not, so SC2 could have easily prevented users from even launching SC2 if a hack was running. It was easily detected by Warden, and they could have done something about it right away - but instead they waited months to ban the users, allowed them to cheat, and it seemed like they wanted "damage" to occur so that they could sue the developers on purpose. They've done insta-bans before, why did they wait so long for "damages" to occur? Was it on purpose for a planned lawsuit?

Blizzard was already going to sue SC2 hackers, but then they suddenly decided to drop the charges. If I, for example, was interested only in profits from court settlements, I would wait until significant damages were incurred so that I could sue for a larger amount of money. That's what the patent trolls do too.. they wait until businesses become successful before they sue. Patent Trolls are not interested in protecting their Intellectual Property, but rather the revenue they can generate from settlements. Based on what I've seen, it seems that these lawsuits are just another alternative revenue stream for Blizzard, and there's little emphasis on actually protecting the legit players (although public statements make it look like users are their top priority). If there were concerns for the legit players, users would be prevented from even launching SC2 (or other Blizzard games) if they have a maphack running. Hash files are very unique signatures too, so Warden would not be triggered by a false positive.

With all of the balancing issues, client issues, crashes, melting video cards, account thefts, and bugs (all of which were complained about for months during PTR/beta, but were STILL released live) wouldn't Blizzard themselves actually be causing even more irreparable harm to their players?

Anyhow - I've been tracking a lot of players on my own server who have been cheating like crazy. Still no ban as of today, even though many of them have probably accumulated 15,000 to 30,000 JPs in one day without running any raids. Yeah, definitely suspicious having all brand new high-level raid gear without having run any raids.