Blizzard eager to stamp out cheats

Critics claim WoW publisher Blizzard Entertainment has been snaring innocent players in a dragnet for banned activities like account sharing and gold farming.

Some gamers have been reportedly receiving bans with what they believed to be little or no justification. Blizzard are claiming that a large proportion of accounts flagged for suspicious activity is due to gold farming – a system in which players either directly or indirectly acquire large amounts of in-game currency or goods through repetitious actions, often achieved by operating automatic “bots” or macros that kill monsters or discover treasure.

A look at any of the many public WoW forums reveals no shortage of postings from players complaining that they had been banned and asking for help. Usually, the players complain, they have had no luck getting through to Blizzard despite repeated e-mails and customer service phone calls.

To Zak, a 14-year-old WoW player from Georgia, USA, the notice didn’t make any sense. He believed he hadn’t done anything to break the game’s rules against an illegal process known as “power leveling,” in which players gain points and levels in online games through banned exploits, such as those that take advantage of WoW software bugs to award gold or expedited advancement to new levels, or which use disallowed third-party software for the same purpose.

Many online game publishers routinely conduct purges of players suspected of terms-of-service violations as a way of convincing their customers that everyone is on a level playing field. But the theory in some circles is that Blizzard has intensified an effort to cleanse WoW of players suspected of gold farming, power leveling or otherwise violating terms of service, and that the company is banning first and asking questions later.


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