March 22, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

'World of Warcraft' bans raise players' ire

To hear Zak tell it, the e-mail he received earlier this month was a total shock--it summarily informed him that he'd been banned from World of Warcraft.

"This is a notification regarding your World of Warcraft account," the e-mail began. "Access to this account has been permanently disabled for exploitation of the World of Warcraft economy or for being associated to accounts which have been closed for intended exploitation." Zak, a 14-year-old WoW player from Georgia, asked that his last name not be used.

According to several players, Zak isn't the only WoW participant who recently has received a ban with what they believed to be little or no justification. Critics claim WoW publisher Blizzard Entertainment has been snaring innocent players in a dragnet for banned activities like account sharing and 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.

"I think Blizzard is being too tough on their issues with exploitation and like many others, I have fallen (victim) to their harsh system of banning people like me."
--WoW player Shoot201

Indeed, 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, 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.

And that was the activity for which he believed he had been kicked out of Wow. A week later, after writing to Blizzard, his account was reactivated.

"They thought I (had been) power leveling," said Zak, "because I was leveling excessively and very fast, which is what power levelers do. (But I had just been playing) late at night to catch up with a friend and just played all day."

Blizzard: "too tough"
"My account for WoW has been closed down," wrote a player who goes by the screen name Shoot201 on the gamers' community site, Gamers Reunion. "Not with a warning. Not even temporarily banned. It's ! I think Blizzard is being too tough on their issues with exploitation and like many others, I have fallen (victim) to their harsh system of banning people like me. And when I say 'like me,' I mean people who play lots and level up very fast."

Others are posting to the various forums reporting an ongoing trend, and asking anyone targeted by Blizzard to report the company's actions. A series of forum posts "have been showing that a great number of innocent players are being banned in a whirlwind purge of Blizzard's," wrote tylerthedruid on WorldOfWar.net earlier this month. "For any players caught in this wave of bans by accident, please file a report with" the Better Business Bureau.

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.

CONTINUED: Blizzard responds…
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141 comments

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WoW bans for Gold Farming & CNET advertises it
Funny how things work.
When I read this article on March 22, the ads below it were all advertising the services that the article implied would get you in trouble!
(Power Leveling, Gold Farming, etc.)

Hey, it must be OK, CNET is advertising it, right?

And don't give me that "random google ads" excuse. You can filter.

Herb
Posted by HerbHoover (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Ditto... Here's a copy/paste
Nice one CNET!

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That's absolutely beautiful... And I don't even play World of Warcrack!
Posted by lamarguy91 (9 comments )
Link Flag
So what?
CNET is just reporting gaming news and advertisers are running ads that are relevant. If they ran an automobile story, you might see ads for Toyota or Honda.

Why would CNET want to filter out perfectly good ads? They aren't owned by Blizzard. It's Blizzard that doesn't like gold farming. CNET couldn't care less. They just reporte the news.
Posted by chazzsubscribe (55 comments )
Link Flag
Stop blaming everyone else.
So if CNET advertised that you should jump off a bridge and you would be able to fly, you would do it? Show a little common sense! CNET is likely not the one advertising these things...prolly a company not even connected to them. And filters are on your side, not theirs.

Stop blaming CNET for accounts being banned. Stop blaming Blizzard. Start blaming the ones actually responsible...the people who own these accounts who are breaking the rules.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Link Flag
Missing the point here.
You are missing the point.
Advertisements are encouragements to purchase.
(IANAL, but I think that is from a legal definition somewhere.)

And my point is CNETs responsibility.
I don't see advertisements for porn sites after articles mentioning pornography. I don't see advertisements for... well, you get the idea.

IMO, it is not a good thing to have adverts for the subject in debate. For one thing it implies support.

And finally I was chiding them on not really paying much attention to what they were doing. It's kinda funny here, but it could really be embarrassing for something serious.

And like I just said, it was funny!
Get it, humorous!
Geez, some people are just too thin skinned.

HH
Posted by HerbHoover (4 comments )
Link Flag
Mixing up games and real life
Maybe it is against the games rules to buy gold or items with real money, but it is not against the law.
Posted by JunkSiu (72 comments )
Link Flag
If you put it on a computer... They will hack it.
Of course people cheat on MMO's. It's a computer game! If people really wanted to roleplay, they'd get a group of friends together and play Pen and Paper. I've tried EQ2 and DDO and ended up cancelling my account on both because it was just a hack & slash video game. The stories are like softcore porn plots (i.e. It really doesn't matter as long as we get to have some combat!). More over, there is no separation of older players from the younger ones. There were some days, when I played DDO, that I, and several other people I knew, wouldn't even think about logging on because there were so many children in the server that you couldn't hardly walk. And lest you think I'm kid bashing, most of those kids don't need to be having any kind of conversation with a large number of the adults on these games.
The long and short of it is, it's a game. If you start bringing in concepts like exploiting the economy and such, then you should limit the age of the players to those mature enough to understand that a EULA is not just something you have to click through to play your new game.
So, on Saturday night instead of being huddled behind my computer screen trying not to violate some game's EULA I'll be drinking beer, eating pizza with my buddies as we explore the depths of Farshore. Then on Sunday I'll boot up NWN2 and cheat my butt off and no one will say anything about it.

Have a nice day.
Posted by guardiandrag0n03 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Well...really
Ok so some little lameers get tossed for cheating and they think they deserve a warning or some such crap, well before Cnet news starts letting all the cheaters spam their lame responses, maybe cnet should realize they are directly supporting cheating by putting related links below the article for wow gold and such, sorry cnet its all just a whining by people who should have known better in the first place
Posted by SpookyCNET (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
EQ bans....
I remember when I was playing EQ they had around 600 people get banned for hacking. It turned out that EQ was checking CRC sums on every DLL the game used and keeping track of the values. If they saw any values that couldn't be explained (i.e. they weren't on the list of known valid values) they would assume the worst and ban the account. On this particular occasion it turned out to be virus and about 3 weeks after the ban they reinstated the accounts.

Don't assume Blizzard can't make a mistake. The people they hired to do this particular job are just as fallable as you and me.
Posted by drfrost (467 comments )
Link Flag
HUH?
HOW EXACTLY DO YOU "CHEAT" ON A GAME NO ONE CAN EVER WIN?
Posted by redmaxblower (7 comments )
Link Flag
Definition of power levling
Wow, when did power leveling only come to mean "I PAY TO HAVE MY TOON PLAYED". I dunno about you but when I start another toon at a low level and get my higher level buddies to run me though things and help with quests, I call this power leveling. Cause I'm getting help and turning in "red" quests that reward big HP. Which btw, there is nothing wrong with. It's 2 people playing the game and thats what we are supposed to do. IMHO, if there is a person playing the toon while the toon is online, there is no violation. BOTS and other 3rd party progs on the other had, yes BAN away.

The issue here is that this kid didn't PAY to get power level'ed. He was power leveling himself by spendin MASS AMOUNTS of time on Blizzards game. Instead of sending a warning they just ban and don't ask questsions. Which is crap in the customer service realm.

I know many people that have seen blizzards CS just drive bomb as they grow. This includes ban issues to in game issues. Also, as most players will note, the game currently is currently in a funk. Game play, class balance, gear itemization, Instances that are way to hard for what your reward is...etc.

its basicaly a shame cause the game is a gorgeous game but I know many people that are hoping Warhammer will be what WoW was/is supposed to be.

as a friend of mine stated, WoW to him means "Waiting on Warhammer"
Posted by Atari05 (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I am so far behind.
Power leveling itself is not the very act of using hacks and exploits but I am so far behind that I should one weekend stay online and never log off and level up so I'm lvl 70 within 3 days.
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag
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Posted by logantscott (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
powerleveling and banning...
I recieved a ban from Blizzard for powerleveling one of my
characters. I repeatedly called and harassed customer service
until I finally got someone to tell me which character I was
supposedly paying to have powerleveled... His reply was that it
was my brand new level 3 character. Yeah.. level 3. I played her
for an hour, and then went to bed.

After 5 days of trading emails and phone calls with several
people from Blizzard, they reactivated my account. The only
thing I could get out of them was that it was a mistake because
of the character name.

When I actually logged into my account, it was stripped. I had no
armor on any of my toons (including my level 70 main) on any of
the servers I play on. Blizzards response to this? "You shouldn't
share your password." Explaining to them that my account was
reactivated by them only 20 minutes before, and that no one
outside of my household knows my password (it's just me and
my boyfriend, who also has his account) and they just kept
saying that it is their policy to not replace gear and gold that
had been stolen because of password sharing. When I finally
asked them to see who it was that my items got mailed to, the
tech said no gear or gold was mailed, it was only deleted. Really
now... how does a player delete gold? And if my account was
compromised by someone wanting to steal the items and gold,
they would have sent the gold to another player... not just delete
it.

Bottom line, Blizzard stopped giving a rats ass about their
players when they figured out that they can do whatever they
want and still have people pay. It's not going to change... They're
just the next SOE with Star Wars Galaxies... Wonder when the
new game enhancements are going to hit.
Posted by thatxbxtchxnicoll (46 comments )
Reply Link Flag
disappointing....
This is one of the reasons why general policies are a very bad idea when they are enforced as if law. The problem is that most of the people calling in are going to lie. Trust me... many many years ago I was very much involved in text MUDs and you wouldn't believe the stories you would hear. Of course, this isn't very comforting to someone who's been unfairly punished. I would just keep asking to talk to the person's supervisor if I were you, until I reached someone who both understood the issue and was able to fix it (if that's possible).

Overall WoW is a great game but if they're letting their customer service slide... or handcuffing them with rules... well, it's not a good sign.

The best customer service I've ever had in relation to these games was with Mythic.
Posted by drfrost (467 comments )
Link Flag
I know a company that can help.
I know a company in China that can help you get your stuff back fast. :)
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
It's called Business
I can understand the frustration of this situation, but let's be reasonable. These companies are in business to make money and CNET is no exception. They make their money off of advertisement and as long as it's not illegal, it's just business.

The problem is with Blizzard creating a blanket solution to a problem with many exceptions. (i.e. a character going from level 1 to 3 in a short amount of time being put on the same playing field as someone going from lv. 10 to 35)

Blizzard should come up with a better solution, or you can take your business elsewhere. They will only learn when people take their business somewhere else. That?s how Capitalism works.
Posted by nosphetu (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Poorly implemented criteria for ban
Which comes down to poor customer service period.
'bots' are a bane of real players as they cause inflation of in-game economies, as well as competing for in-game resources. But if I get a snow day and want to play all day long, that shouldn't have any adverse impact like a ban.

In my not so humble opinion, this shows that WoW apparently is employing morons for account activity analysts. Occasional day or week spikes of activity are no grounds for banning; and can be expected based on weather conditions, holidays, and vacation times around the country/world. If you have episodic questionable activity, you send in a flesh and blood administrator to invisibly observe the behavor to confirm or deny your suspicions. Otherwise, what you primarily need to look at are accounts being operated on a continual basis.
Posted by Dr_Zinj (727 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Solution with no problem
Fortunately I'm not one of those whose accounts have been banned for paying Blizzard some money to play their game.

But it seems somewhat crazy that they have a policy in place that punishes those that apparently like their game.

Let me see, if you play WoW and do very well, Blizzard ban you and possibly anyone that associated with you online.

I know I'm not the only one puzzled by this RIAA style customer service.

And to ban people permanently with no warning - where's the logic in that?

Surely they recognise that certain people will make mistakes, won't have fully read or understood their EULA, and could dish out warnings or temporary suspensions prior to cutting off their own source of income.

Sure if they have problems with blatent attempts to ruin the game for paying customers, or people that continually violate terms and conditions, you ban those people from your game space.

But it appears that they have implemented a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

No one I know of has a problem with other players that do well or play the game to the exclusion of all other activity.

So that person leads a sad life of killing the same creatures over and over, selling loot and gathering gold and successively smaller amounts of experience. The only person being punished here is the idiot that wastes their life doing this.

But to punish loyal customers, those that maybe did violate some terms when they, say bought a small amount of gold online, or with the help of online buddies power leveled an alternate character, this is madness.
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Recheck the problem
Blizzard is NOT banning people for being loyal and enjoying the game. They are banning people for using banned automated bot programs...and for using real currency to buy gold, ingame items, and ingame services from a 3rd party not connected to Blizzard. I know people that power leveled themselves in a very short time from 60 to 70 without using any 3rd party services or breaking any rules. I know people who bought mounts in a relatively short amount of time without buying gold online. So no one can say it can't be done without breaking the rules. Blizzard does its part by providing every player with access to the terms of use and the license agreement. It's up to each player to do their part and actually read them. Ignorance is not bliss, regardless of what people would have you believe. If you are banned for being ignorant of the rules, then you only have yourself to blame.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Link Flag
Great post
Great post.

Read my blog at tylerthedruid.1up.com.

Also head out to the MMORPG.com forums where you'll fidn some good debate material about the problems with grinding.

Check out Gamasutra's recent feature on reinventing the MMORPGS. I think the ideology will appeal you to very much.
Posted by Tylerthedruid (11 comments )
Link Flag
Money Maker for Blizzard
First of all, is anyone surprised that kids don't read the agreement? Seems like a game that has a large population of young people should be a little more friendly in their approach. How about a warning first? My son committed a violation out of ignorance. He tried to use a bot. The irony is that he never got it to work. He was banned and lost 5 of the 6 months that he prepaid (no refunds!). I wonder how many are like my son and went out and bought a new copy of the game and started playing again. Has Blizzard figured out that most players are addicted and will re-buy the game? I'll bet they make a lot of money off this policy of invalidating your CD key and keeping any paid subscription money.
Posted by fschwing (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bot use
should be ethically suspect to anyone... dont be a tool.
Posted by volterwd (466 comments )
Link Flag
Responsible for your kids
You, as a parent, should have read the rules and made sure your son followed them. I am a parent myself, and I can tell you I know everything about anything my kids are involved in. Perhaps you should do the same.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Link Flag
you cant be serius
first off yes wow has ALOT of young player ive seen kids who are as young as 7 play there game(my little sis is one fo them) they dont really know what there doing but hay if it keep them out my hair for a while ill do it . now if you let you kid make an account say this kid is ...oh say 12 year old now he doesnt have his own credit/bank card so hell need to use your now that we hav3e set this scenerion up you
a)give the kid teh card so he can start teh account on a computer obviusly hooked to teh internet thus eliciting that you dont care what your kid does with YOUR money or your rich as hell and anything he could buy is abviusly not expensive enough to warrant your attention.
or you B)go over and see what your kid is spending your money on thus when the TOS pops up you teh adult who put your money on teh line for this account should check what it says if you let your kid just do whatever he wants with your money your an ignorant sap of a parent.
so ignorance that your kid did it and didnt know it was wrong wont get your account back. futher more if the bot DIDNT work how is that blizz even new you had one.they dont check every computer with a account that plays for illegal programs cause that violates our privacy and doing such a thing is taxxing on bandwith for the game resulting in high lag/ latency for teh players.
Posted by nokozon (3 comments )
Link Flag
of course they do
That's the whole point...they know lil jimmy will keep on payin...and payin ....and payin
Posted by redmaxblower (7 comments )
Link Flag
False information..
It's worth noting that this reporter is an idiot. He came to a forum which I'm a member of seeking info on the bannings, and from what I've read both in that post and in this article, he likes to use selective wording an such to FAR exaggerate points.

Most of the people banned (which in reality isn't much) were banned for things they didn't know they could be banned for. Nearly every WoW player skips the ToU and EULA and then gets mad when they're banned after account-sharing or gold-buying, or even glitching into areas which they aren't allowed to explore.

The only real wave of innocently banned players was when Linux users were banned, which as since been undone. Anyone claiming to be banned for no reason here has fell victim to ignorance of Blizzard's terms, ignorance of what they really did, or complete chance -- if Blizzard's in-built Warden program detects anything suspicious, and they they're falsely reported for hacking, Blizz will ban.
Posted by JaedxRapture (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Not sure what I exaggerated
I understand that some WoW players don't agree with the thrust of
this story, but I can't see what "selective wording" I used that got
JaedxRapture upset. I represented both sides of this argument, got
Blizzard's response and tied it into how this is affecting guilds. I
think it's a fair representation of what I am hearing is going on.
Posted by Daniel Terdiman (78 comments )
Link Flag
not true
as i said previously my account was banned without so much as an email saying i was banned or for what reason. i've also waited a week now and still no word from account admin about this, yet they say that AA works 24/7/365!!
Posted by Sgiathatch (3 comments )
Link Flag
Source of this information?
I would like you to reconsider that, once again. Firstly, many MMORPGs have admitted to false bans in the past.

Why is Blizzard reinstating these accounts if the players are obviously in the position where they need to be banned? I think you are defending a point that Blizzard itself has conceded.
Posted by Tylerthedruid (11 comments )
Link Flag
2 accounts banned
1st ban, Nov 14th 2006. "Third Party Software" so they say. I was running Gentoo Linux and WoW under WineX. I reported to better Business Bureau, nothing was done.
2nd Ban(suspension, dunno)March 9th,2007, last level i was at was 58, grinding another character to where I was so i could catch back up with my guild during burning crusades. I have sent an email a day and NO RESPONSE from Blizzard other than "We've received your message". I have emailed Vivendi and supposedly they are taking the Email higher. Screw Blizzard. Both times I have been brushed off and my money literally stolen from me. Warhammer Online will be the death of WoW, so it doesn't matter.. Bye Bye Blizzard and Vivendi... you will get no more money from me.
Posted by drarkanex (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
2 accounts banned
1st ban, Nov 14th 2006. "Third Party Software" so they say. I was running Gentoo Linux and WoW under WineX. I reported to better Business Bureau, nothing was done.
2nd Ban(suspension, dunno)March 9th,2007, last level i was at was 58, grinding another character to where I was so i could catch back up with my guild during burning crusades. I have sent an email a day and NO RESPONSE from Blizzard other than "We've received your message". I have emailed Vivendi and supposedly they are taking the Email higher. Bye Bye Blizzard. Both times I have been brushed off and my money literally stolen from me. Warhammer Online will be the death of WoW, so it doesn't matter.. Bye Bye Blizzard and Vivendi... you will get no more money from me.
Posted by drarkanex (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So long...have fun
You know something? The same thing was said about WoW being the death of Final Fantasy XI. Has that game even slowed down? No, it hasn't. If I hadn't deleted the toon I was playing because I wasn't planning on going back, I might consider pulling her out again. I enjoy both games, and have no intention of stopping WoW to play a glorified version of the green army men game I played 25 years ago. And yes, I know what Warhammer is. My husband was into the tabletop version and really enjoyed it, and now plays the computer game single player. Even considering that, neither of us will be leaving WoW to pay to play something he can play free.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Link Flag
Blizzards Customer Service is Non-Existant
I had an account banned with no warning or even a notice from Blizzard. Also after numerous emails AND attempts to contact them I finally just gave up. Started new characters and if I get banned again I think a class action suit is in order. Power leveling is a gray area... For example if I pay my son to level me when I cant be on line and level very quickly without using bots...then what is the difference in paying a company to do it for me? The way I see it as long as the quests are done manually it should be no business of Blizzards as to who does it...I mean how fast is too fast.
Posted by ricjohn (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Missing the point
The point isn't how fast you are leveling. The point is paying a company for an ingame service is against the rules. If you choose to pay your son, I doubt Blizzard would care. I have a friend who leveled from 60 to 70 within about a month of gameplay. He even has a job outside of WoW. He did it without breaking any rules. He's just that efficient.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Link Flag
paying your son is a violation too
According to a GM I spoke with years ago, when my son and I shared an account. Even use by direct family, living in the same household is considered "Account Sharing" and is a bannable offense. Nevermind what you propose.

I asked if I should buy 4 accounts for myself and my boys to all try out the game, and he agreed.

GG Blizzard, jackasses.
Posted by khuss66 (11 comments )
Link Flag
He didn't say he powerlevels
This person never in this post said that they used powerlevelling or actually 'paid' their son to play. Actually, you can share your account with your child, so it really wouldn't be considered paying. I don't think the pay would be necessary anyways.

As far as powerlevelling goes. I've met people who claimed to use an automated program to level - and they were never banned. It's incredible, how incompetent Blizzard can be on this subject.
Posted by Tylerthedruid (11 comments )
Link Flag
Blizzard is right!
People who are complaining that Blizzard is being too harsh are not giving you the full story. Every player has access to the terms of use and the license agreement, both at any time and EVERY time a new patch is installed. In both of those, every player who clicks the Agree button is saying they acknowledge that everything in the game World of Warcraft is the exclusive property of Blizzard Entertainment. This includes ingame currency, mail, herbs, armor...everything right down to the skin or fur on the characters themselves.

Since this is true, anyone who uses real currency to buy gold or to pay for a power leveling service, or to pay for an honor farming service are breaking these two well-documented sets of rules. The same holds true for people who sell these services. Not only that...but since the game is copyrighted to Blizzard, and they claim the right to own everything in said game, these people are breaking Federal copyright laws, by buying and selling these goods and services without express permission from Blizzard. They're lucky they're only being banned!

Blizzard has also said many times, where anyone who has half a brain can see on the forums, that automatic bot programs are considered exploits...and that anyone using said programs and caught in the act will be severely dealt with. No matter what these people say, they are NOT being unfairly dealt with. If you break the rules, you get punished. I, for one, am very glad Blizzard is finally doing something about these people. They make it very hard for those of us who don't see a need to break the rules to enjoy the game for what it is, and I cheer Blizzard for its attempts to make the game unbiased to any one group of people and enjoyable for all.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Banning the players because they MIGHT be breaking the rules
Many of the people banned are not breaking the rules. Blizzard is banning them because they think the player MIGHT be breaking the rules.

Player 1 goes to a gold farmer. player 1 gives gold to player 2 who is just getting started. player 2 gets banned. This is not fair.

Now if Blizzard started banning players for not having a life, that would be public service.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Cold and Heartless
I've read the TOS and EULA, many times. No where in there does it state that you will get banned if you use Linux. Or suspended with no response from account admins at all. Yea.. you keep on with your Pius glory about how good a player character you are. Again, I hope the Much unneeded ban stick hits yourself. Then you will feel what it's like to be scrutinized
Posted by drarkanex (24 comments )
Link Flag
Shoot First - Ask Questions Later
It's ironic that, both within the customer service forums - and when formally responding to articles such as this one, Blizzard representatives consistently state that the number one priority of their account suspension and banning process is to avoid 'friendly fire'. The truth is that the real process involved shooting first (banning/suspending) and THEN performing an investigation to determine legitimacy.

I was temporarily banned (without warning, or communication prior to the ban) for 'Speed Hacking'. The GM described the offense (after-the-fact, via e-mail) as 'Visually confirmed - through one minute of observation - player moving at an increased speed while stealthed in cat form with no speed enhancement buffs present'. Long story short, the GM was not knowledgable about my class (Druid) and the fact that my talent selection did in fact give me this ability.

The great thing about these bans is that it is like being tossed in solitary confinement where no one can hear your proclamations of innocence. The customer service line is a joke (they actually hung up on me - which has never happened to me in dealing with 'customer service' anywhere else). All I got was 'Sorry sir, we can't help you - moving on to the next call - wait for an e-mail response'. The e-mail support is this kind of black-hole where cries for help goes in, and automated messages come out. If you're lucky, many days later, you might get a canned response. These e-mails are responded to in the order received, and given the current state of things, I can't even begin to imagine how many hundreds of thousands of cries for help are flying into that inbox each day.

Ultimately, I received an e-mail response that - in typical blizzard legalese - stated that the issue had been investigated, and the ban had been removed. No offer to credit back the time lost, no admission of guilt or mistakes made.

I love this game - but this has gotten out of hand. Blizzard's customer service function has not sufficiently grown to support the growth and success of World of Warcraft. There are - apparently - no checks and balances or peer review OR significant investigations required PRIOR to banning a player. One GM made a (in my opinion) simply mistake, and that was it - I was out, in my solitary confinement cell feeling unjustly imprisoned by my judge jury and executioner. I guess I should take comfort in the fact that he DID at least spend 1 minute observing my actions to sentence me.
Posted by ISPTraderChris (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Good for the game; Good for YOU
This practice is both good for the game and good for you, the player. 1) It discourages and fights gold farming, power leveling and other forms of cheating, 2) It encourages players to NOT play all day, NOT level super fast, to basically do something else... ANYTHING else, which might hopefully include going out, meeting people, perhaps getting a gf/bf, developing relationships and one day having a life outside of WoW... Maybe even having kids and getting them to play WoW... I'm sure Blizz would love that. I wonder if pregnant women can pass WoW addiction to the babies they are carrying?
Posted by SUMB44 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amen
ROFL! That's funny...maybe not so much if it were true that unborn children could receive an addiction to WoW from their mothers, but still. Finally an intelligent response to all this, without unnecessary drama.

This IS good for the game. I don't agree with people being banned unnecessarily. But if you cheat by buying items/ingame services/gold with real currency from a 3rd party outside of WoW, then you deserve to be banned. If you cheat by installing a bot program that does the work for you, so you can go do something else, then you deserve to be banned. If you spam me with gold selling/PL-honor farming services, then expect to be reported.
Posted by kittybearkat (14 comments )
Link Flag
Bad Idea.
"...going out, meeting people, perhaps getting a gf/bf, developing relationships and one day having a life outside of WoW"

This can lead to such problems as STD, Divorce court, and in a worst case scenario, paying for kids STD treatment, Divorce court and 4 or more years of collage.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Life's not fair
Here's the thing ... this is on of those subjects you expect to see on a message forum somewhere. It's a topic that has no right/wrong answer because there's not enough evidence to support either side of the argument.

The only statistic that really matters is the people banned vs. the people banned and reinstated ratio.

Forum topics like this love to use 1 or 2 examples of people that were banned and reinstated. However, how many players were banned legitimately and never reinstated?

We're not talking about executing people to save the rest. We're talking about MMO bannings. So a few people are banned. It's not the end of the world. I've never been warned or banned, but if I was ... meh, I'd find another game to play and move on. I enjoy WoW, but not being able to play would not be the end of the real world for me.
Posted by Tinman52 (93 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Blizzard assumes guilt before innocence
Having known firsthand exactly what this articles discusses, I will confirm completely they will ban your account for what they determined to be against their EULA, before completing any type of investigation. Now before any of you Blizzard Fanatics think they can do no wrong, I have documented proof regarding my account's ban and it was in no way shape or form due to my flippant disregard to their EULA.
Posted by Stryker2 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Blizzard does ban innocent players
Everybody hates cheaters, and I agree that Blizzard should aggressively punish them, but there is absolutely no doubt that Blizzard is casting too wide a net and banning innocent players. I know this for a fact because I am one of them.

After a year and a half of playing WoW without any problems, my account was suddenly banned without any warning. Blizzard sent me an extremely vague canned email informing me of the ban. When I replied to the email, I received (after waiting a week for a response) a second canned email message. I have asked for further clarification regarding the ban, but Blizzard has so far chosen to ignore me.

Neither message I received gave me sufficient details about my supposed violation that I could identify exactly what the allegation is, let alone adequately defend myself against it. All I know is that Blizzard alleges my account was somehow ?involved in the sale of virtual property.?

I have never bought or sold gold, or anything else. I did recently mail a large quantity of gold to a friend?s character to help him buy a flying mount, and I can only assume that this action caused one of Blizzard?s automated watchdog programs to flag my account.

I understand that this is ?just a game.? I also understand that the contract Blizzard makes us sign before we play the game pretty much gives it the right to do whatever it wants, including banning our accounts without telling us why. But I still feel like I?ve been robbed, and not just because of the prepaid monthly fees I?ve lost. I have invested hundreds--maybe thousands--of hours building up my characters. That time and effort had value to me, and that value has been stolen from me because of an unjustified act on the part of Blizzard.
Posted by blizzardsucks (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I did some research on your account.
You were banned for cheating on you spelling test in your third grade class with Ms. Wilson.

To regain access to your account, please contact Cleavland Elementary.

Please ask for Mrs. Johnson as Ms. Wilson retired 12 years ago.
Posted by ralfthedog (1589 comments )
Link Flag
Guilt by association
I have two roommates. I'll call them George and John for clarity, and because I don't have their permission to use their real names.

George, John, and I all play WoW. We each have our own accounts, and we do not share accounts with each other. We do share the same cable Internet connection, however, so we all have the same IP address.

George got his account banned by using a powerleveling service. This ban was totally justified. George knowingly broke the rules and Blizzard was totally in the right to ban him.

Neither I nor John knew about George's violation of the rules. George didn't even tell us about the ban because he was embarrassed. We thought he just got bored with the game and quit.

Two weeks later, however, John and I both got our accounts banned for "being associated to accounts which have been closed for intended exploitation." Neither John nor I have done anything wrong, but because we share the same IP address as George, Blizzard banned our accounts as well.

John and I have repeatedly tried to explain the situation to Blizzard, but they won't listen to us. We are, in their eyes, as guilty as George, even though we didn't do anything wrong , nor did we even know about George's actions until after we were banned. (George finally told us about the ban after John and I got banned.)

As I've said, I have no problem with Blizzard banning people who violate the rules, but I have a MAJOR problem with the whole "guilt by association" thing.
Posted by sdbob (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
i got banned for sending gold to my husband
we've been playing WOW for 2 years now. i'm an elementary teacher and hubby's an engineer, we work full time and only enjoy WOW at night after work as a shared common hobby. we've enjoyed questing together through almost all the game contents. we've never ever cheated, powerleveled, bought gold or anything like it... although i was the main gold maker for both of us. meaning when we quest, hubby never rolls against me unless he needs, he always passes on everything so i can sell or disenchant and sell materials in the auction house, he never liked dealing with the auction house and he knew that i really enjoy it, so it worked fine for both of us.

until...

my husband reached level 70 before me when i was still 66, and so we decided to start with buying him his flying mount first and then work together on making more gold for mine, so i went ahead and sent him 900 gold from my account to his (and obviously for that i got banned). we really didn't know that sending gold between players was illegal! well i owe him half of my gold anyway! he gives me all his items! we have the same credit card info on file! we're family! we're husband and wife for God's sake!
apparently Blizzard didn't like it, and 2 weeks ago we both were shocked with an e-mail in my inbox that said "Access to this account has been permanently disabled for exploitation of the World of Warcraft economy or for being associated to accounts which have been closed for intended exploitation." note: they didn't ban my hubby's account though, but he never received the gold, they blocked the mail in game or something.
several attends have been made to contact Bliz and reactivate my account, all failed. they keep resending the same e-mail over and over again.

too bad, they just lost 2 good loyal players, hubby's stopped playing since they banned me. because he's mad about it, and he says it's not the same without me anymore :)
Posted by Leya80 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Seems to me the rules go beyon common sense
I didn't play online game for awhile and never play WOW. It seems those user agreements become so against common sense. Giving away gold/money and equiptment are so common in online games, and it look like WOW is banning it. Banning BOTs/Farmers is one thing, but going against common sense is another thing.
Posted by JunkSiu (72 comments )
Link Flag
banned accts, transferred gold, lawsuits
You have the right to be furious.

I haven't played in a year, but I know that when I left I took my account and sent off all of the things I had accumulated over the year of playing and mailed them off to friends and guild members, including about 700 gold. I can't begin to tell you how pissed off I would be to find that my gold and items never arrived, let alone having someone get their account banned because of it.

The online gold DOES have a real-world value, that much has been proven. If Blizzard is literally "stealing" this from players and banning access to players without due cause they'll probably get sued.

Ultimately they control the system, but people playing the games do have rights no matter how totalitarian the EULA is for the game. I have to imagine that people following the rules and getting stripped of something without warning or justification have legal rights. Someone along the line is going to sue them and if they win there will be a landslide of lawsuits. It sounds to me as though many will be justified, too.

Too bad that THIS is the only way Blizzard will ever care.
Posted by Fireweaver (105 comments )
Link Flag
Just-World Phenomenon
well, for people who actually read comments, i thought it was very interesting that there was some of this going around in the comments and the article itself. basically people naturally assume the the world is 'just' and people get what they deserve. read more if your bored enough <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_phenomenon" target="_newWindow">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Just-world_phenomenon</a>

*main point* i want to say that no, people dont have to do something bad to get banned, it just gets me fired up whenever someone say ah, he must have hacked or something because blizzard (or any other group with power) must have incriminating evidence to ban or punish them.
Posted by nkoi (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
rpgSE.com (not a sell site)
You can really track the ban waves of gold farmers at sites like rpgSE.com (not a sell site) It seems that Blizzard has slowed down their ban waves the past week or so to get caught up on all the extra fish they caught in the net and reactivate their accounts.

It just sucks to have to be out over a weeks worth of play time for no good reason at all.
Posted by TexasMo (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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