World of Warcraft developer Blizzard Entertainment doesn’t talk about player bans publicly very often, but its latest suspension of 74,000 WoW accounts has been accompanied by an explanation from the company.
The account bans were triggered for World of Warcraft Classic players, all of whom were found to be in violation of the MMO’s end-user license agreement. In the majority of cases, the accounts had been detected using gameplay automation tools, which allow them to, “farm resources or kill enemies much more efficiently than legitimate players can.” In other words, it’s unfair as well as breaking the rules.
Blizzard points out that it’s not only frustrating for them that people choose to do this, but it’s infuriating for legitimate players, too. The company relies on players to report suspicious activity, but the development team also uses an ever-evolving detection system to try and identify bots automatically. However, Blizzard describes it as “challenging circumstances” because there’s a big incentive for making account automation work in WoW: money.
Blizzard explains, “Real money trading drives third parties to put an enormous amount of effort into circumventing our detection systems. As much as this is a very high priority for us, it is the only priority for profit-driven botting organizations. The bans we issue are simply a cost of doing business for them.”
It seems unlikely Blizzard will ever be able to stamp out automation completely, but the team has promised to implement “further improvements to every part of the game that might address cheating issues more swiftly and completely.” In the meantime, WoW players are encouraged to continue reporting any suspicious activity they witness.