Blizzard wins multimillion dollar lawsuit against cheaters

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,574   +591
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Ubisoft banned 1500 For Honor players last month for cheating. Back in February, Blizzard clamped down on Korean cheaters for circumventing bans in the game Overwatch. Last year, Ubisoft considered punishing players of Tom Clancy’s The Division for exploiting a game glitch that allowed them to win top tier loot without actually playing the level.

To say developers are cracking down on cheating would be an understatement. Adding punctuation to that understatement, Blizzard was just handed a $8.6 million award in a lawsuit against Bossland, a company that specialized in creating software or 'bots' used for cheating.

“Founded 2009, Bossland GmbH is a leading company in creating automation software, so called Bots, for MMORPG’s,” says the company website adding, “Botting is not against any law.”

However, Blizzard vehemently disagrees. According to PC Gamer, the MMO giant claims that Bossland “reverse-engineered and otherwise altered its games without permission.”

The California court presiding over the case sided with Blizzard, ruling that the cheat company was guilty of “42,818 counts of copyright infringement.”

Bossland was ordered to pay $8.5 million to Blizzard in restitution plus another $177,000 in legal fees. It is unreported whether this outcome will break the bot maker, but considering that it only lists five software programs on its company website, bankruptcy is a very real possibility.

But are bots so bad? Cheats in video games have been around almost as long as video games have existed. Cheat codes were regularly published in gaming magazines. There were even cartridge peripherals in the 1990's such as the Game Genie and Game Shark, that facilitated cheating in just about any game. However, most cheats were put in by developers to help test and debug a game. The debugging codes were so popular that developers would leave them in for gamers to find.

However, with the proliferation of multiplayer games and the advent of the microtransaction, cheating is viewed differently by developers now. Cheating in single player games harms no one. However, cheating in multiplayer games is another matter.

From a player’s perspective, it is not much different than if one was to cheat in a game of Monopoly or other board game. Cheating in an MMO gives a player an advantage over the rest of the players, which is unfair. Trying to play a game with others who are cheating is not fun for the non-cheater, so most makers of MMOs are strict when it comes to the matter.

However, from a developer’s perspective, protecting the game’s community from cheaters is not solely to keep the game fun for everyone. The new multiplayer gaming business model revolves around microtransactions. In fact, for some games such as Star Trek Online, DC Universe Online, Warframe, and others, microtransactions are the developers only source of income. These games are free to download and play without a subscription. However, each has an in-game store for purchasing gear and other items. Some also offer monthly subscriptions that give the player extra perks as well. So anyone cheating in games like these are stealing revenue from the developers in a very literal sense.

The topic of whether using bots is cheating or not will likely continue to be hotly debated, but Blizzard’s win in court sets a legal precedent that pretty much settles the argument. Botting is against the law.

Konami Code image by Gamerz Unite

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Trillionsin

Posts: 1,878   +462
Trying to play a game with others who are cheating is not fun for the non-cheater, so most makers of MMOs are strict when it comes to the matter.
I don't know... have you ever played a round of COD with a cheater? aimbotting? I think it's fun to actually kill the cheater. Like, "You suck so bad that you have to cheat, and you STILL arent the best player." THAT I LOVE.

But, I encountered a cheater the other day that made himself invisible and invulnerable. That wasn't as much fun. The next problem I have with people, not the cheaters, is that they b*tch and moan and cry. Just report, and move on. Nobody is forcing you to play with a cheater. Find a new server, or log off for a bit. Just make sure you report him. That's all you need to do. Move on with life. You don't have to stoop lower than he is by showing how immature you are and how many dirty names or insults you can think of. It just makes you look bad.

I get called a hacker all the time while playing COD games. It's really unsightly of people when they call a regular player a hacker. However, I also take it as a compliment. It's just annoying when they want to try to harass you, like they really have nothing better to do. I mean, you logged on to play a game, so just play it. IDK
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,281
If it was left up to me, I would have made sure I put that company out of business and made microtransactions illegal at the same time. Both are despicable practices.
 
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Kenrick

Posts: 631   +401
Using Bots to automate gaming and looting is unacceptable.

A glitch in a game should be treated like a legit cheat in games. This is a developer's fault and not the gamers who accidentally find this cheat unless they use this for monetary gains. If developers give credit to those who can find glitch before it goes public, they should be rewarded and these problems associated with glitch would go away.
 

lipe123

Posts: 935   +508
If it was left up to me, I would have made sure I put that company out of business and made microtransactions illegal at the same time. Both are despicable practices.
Micro transactions are fine and very much a good thing if done correctly, I play warframe and no micro transaction will ever give any any real advantage over regular free players. Plus there always has to be a way for players to trade time/effort for ingame money so everyone can benefit.
If you give me the choice of a onetime $60-80 fee to play a game vs paying $5 here and there when I feel like it, its obvious which one is the easier pill to swallow.
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,574   +591
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The article could be called 'Why Barbie Dolls can't be real friends" but if you post a picture of Illidan or Arthas I will be forced to click.
HAHA! That's funny. I'll keep that in mind. :)
 

Cal Jeffrey

Posts: 2,574   +591
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If it was left up to me, I would have made sure I put that company out of business and made microtransactions illegal at the same time. Both are despicable practices.
Micro transactions are fine and very much a good thing if done correctly, I play warframe and no micro transaction will ever give any any real advantage over regular free players. Plus there always has to be a way for players to trade time/effort for in-game money so everyone can benefit.
If you give me the choice of a onetime $60-80 fee to play a game vs paying $5 here and there when I feel like it, its obvious which one is the easier pill to swallow.
@ Skidmarksdeluxe: Describing microtransactions as a despicable practice is a bit much I think. I mean I can agree somewhat if we were strictly talking about a game that has a base cost of $60. I don't think holding back content is fair for the paying player. However, for free-to-play, whining about microtransactions is just that ... Whining. It's free. It did not cost you a dime to download and fire it up. So how are the devs supposed to make money to keep the lights on? Microtransactions and subscriptions are the only answer, and frankly, games like Neverwinter are fun even if you never make a single in-game purchase. I played Neverwinter for a year and never spent a cent on the game.

@ lipe123: I agree. For some games, $5 here or there is a really good plan, but it doesn't work for every game. Multiplayer games are ideal for the microtransaction model because there are so many people playing that everybody wants to look different from the next player. Most in-game purchase tend to be cosmetic rather than advantage giving (not all though; ever play Stormfall?). So even for $60 games, cosmetic purchases are an optional perk if you are willing to pay for them. "Optional" being the key word.
 

TheBigT42

Posts: 455   +355
Using Bots to automate gaming and looting is unacceptable.

A glitch in a game should be treated like a legit cheat in games. This is a developer's fault and not the gamers who accidentally find this cheat unless they use this for monetary gains. If developers give credit to those who can find glitch before it goes public, they should be rewarded and these problems associated with glitch would go away.
I feel like a glitch is bad code in the game. Exploit it until gets fixed. It is a part of the game.
Adding code or external code to cause cheats is lower than low.
 
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TomSEA

Posts: 3,274   +1,923
"But are bots so bad?"

I can tell you that they completely ruined a MMORPG I really enjoyed - Asheron's Call. Crazy enough, the developers actually encouraged bot use and the next thing you knew, the worlds were populated with bots. It actually became rare to run into a live player.

Haven't played a MMORPG since because of rampant bot usage.
 
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Ascaris

Posts: 132   +94
Micro transactions are fine and very much a good thing if done correctly,
...
If you give me the choice of a onetime $60-80 fee to play a game vs paying $5 here and there when I feel like it, its obvious which one is the easier pill to swallow.
That's the thing... if done correctly. There's always going to be the impetus to squeeze the players a little more, to make the game just a little worse unless the person pays up... over time, any objections devs may have to harming gameplay for the sake of money eases, and they begin to justify more stuff that never would have been allowed previously. With a pay up front type game, the motivating factor for the devs is to make the best game possible and get more players paying that way. It does not always work, of course, and bad games are everywhere, but the basic pattern of "great game = profit" is still the goal.

With freemium games, the goal can never be to make the game as good as possible, because if it is, people won't have enough motivation to purchase the premium currency or perform the other microtransactions. The goal, then, will be to try to create a game that has an unfulfilled promise of being really great, with fulfillment available for only (whatever the price is). Making a game that seems like it's gonna be good but isn't (unless you pay) is not a recipe that lends itself to making a good game. It's possible to make a good game in spite of this, but the dev will have to work against what seems like his self-interest by NOT monetizing and cheapening the game for all it's worth like it's Windows 10 or something like that.

The pay-up-front model encourages making the best possible game, and even though the gaming world is filled with examples where that did not work, at least the desire to make money goes in a direction that is most beneficial to players. If a freemium game achieves greatness, it's in spite of its pay model, not a result of it.

As to the statement about $5 here and there being easier to swallow than $60-80... perhaps, but at least when you pay for the game up front, you know you've got the whole game. With freemium games, often you'd have to pay many times what a typical purchased up front game would cost, and you have to keep paying if you want to keep getting the benefit.

I tried some freemium games on my tablet, but never for PC. I always felt like I was a sucker for paying for what the game's selling, like I'd fallen for a trick that I knew was a trick at the time, and that bad taste in my mouth over that led me to abandon each of them shortly thereafter. Surely a good business model doesn't make your customers feel like they've been had when they pay for your product!

If the makers of such games would keep a running total of how much has beens spent on the game and transform it to a paid game once that threshold is reached, I think that would get rid of the sensation that I've been suckered, and the development motive would be to get people to the fully paid point, after which the standard motive to just make a good game would apply. I know I'd be a lot more likely to do microtransactions if they were building toward an eventual purchase of the game.
 
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texasrattler

Posts: 988   +433
Just google GmbH, that'll give you a understanding of how shady things are done in Germany. While it is a German company, it's name translates to, "company with limited liability". Wtf, an they wonder why they are being sued.

Bots are and should be illegal when they are being used for cheating or exploting a game. I'd say go after them all. It's time Ubisoft stop being soft and go hard after these companies that give players access to cheats. Ubi's games like Tom Clancy's R6 and The Division all fail at stopping cheating.
 

Cal Jeffrey

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That's the thing... if done correctly.
@Ascaris: you make some good points and free-to-play, or "freemium" as you say, does ride a fine line between being fair and being a ripoff. There are many examples that come to mind when thinking about how F2P was done wrong (Wartune), or started out good but appeared to dive into the greediness of the developers (Stormfall). However, the ultimate goal as a developer is to make as much money as possible off of a game. They do not twist any arms to make purchases and everything they offer has a value, otherwise, they wouldn't offer it. As long as players are willing to pay developers will put out content and charge for it. Whether it is DLC, in-game cosmetics, microtransactions, or anything else, developers are going to employ these models to their best advantage. Again, they ride a fine line and they are beginning to perfect the process. As time goes on the game ages and they find other ways to refresh the game. This cannot be done for free, so some means has to exist to generate revenue. As they try new things, some players will drop out, but as long as they are making enough to keep the lights on they will continue to find ways to make money off their IP. At some point, they will retire the game (Planetfall, City of Heroes), and go to work on something else, but that usually doesn't come until playership has fallen to the point that it's not worth keeping the servers on anymore.
 

Darth Shiv

Posts: 2,063   +654
If it was left up to me, I would have made sure I put that company out of business and made microtransactions illegal at the same time. Both are despicable practices.
Sadly microtransactions are becoming more prevalent. Blizzard allows you to play a few of their games without needing to participate in microtransactions to get very decent value from the games.

Botting spoils the ecosystem. It ruins the game experience and wastes people's time. Botters have no right to do that on a platform they don't own, if the platform owner stipulates you don't bot. Blizzard set the rules to make it fair to everyone. It's not an unreasonable request. It's not like they are saying you need to let them kick you in the nuts every time you want to play.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,281
Sadly microtransactions are becoming more prevalent. Blizzard allows you to play a few of their games without needing to participate in microtransactions to get very decent value from the games.

Botting spoils the ecosystem. It ruins the game experience and wastes people's time. Botters have no right to do that on a platform they don't own, if the platform owner stipulates you don't bot. Blizzard set the rules to make it fair to everyone. It's not an unreasonable request. It's not like they are saying you need to let them kick you in the nuts every time you want to play.
I wasn't picking on Blizzard, they did the right thing by nailing the botters. I was slamming the botters themselves and the legal microtransaction rackets that are so prevalent these days.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,281
@ Skidmarksdeluxe: Describing microtransactions as a despicable practice is a bit much I think. I mean I can agree somewhat if we were strictly talking about a game that has a base cost of $60. I don't think holding back content is fair for the paying player. However, for free-to-play, whining about microtransactions is just that ... Whining. It's free. It did not cost you a dime to download and fire it up. So how are the devs supposed to make money to keep the lights on? Microtransactions and subscriptions are the only answer, and frankly, games like Neverwinter are fun even if you never make a single in-game purchase. I played Neverwinter for a year and never spent a cent on the game.

@ lipe123: I agree. For some games, $5 here or there is a really good plan, but it doesn't work for every game. Multiplayer games are ideal for the microtransaction model because there are so many people playing that everybody wants to look different from the next player. Most in-game purchase tend to be cosmetic rather than advantage giving (not all though; ever play Stormfall?). So even for $60 games, cosmetic purchases are an optional perk if you are willing to pay for them. "Optional" being the key word.
I do think microtransactions are a despicable practice. It's not as though big game publishers are struggling for a few bob but I also see your point. Not being much of a gamer myself but I do play them on occasion, I wouldn't spend a penny more on a game than I have to and certainly would never entertain the thought of making in any game purchases or buying additional DLC but that's just me. If people are willing to do that then so be it, it's their money after all and it's their choice, they're not being coerced into doing it. I recently downloaded and played the demo of Mafia III and quite enjoyed it. When it drops down to a reasonable price I'll think about buying the full game then. It seems to have a decent single player experience and that's all that matters to me in any game. I don't do multiplayer.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,281
Micro transactions are fine and very much a good thing if done correctly, I play warframe and no micro transaction will ever give any any real advantage over regular free players. Plus there always has to be a way for players to trade time/effort for ingame money so everyone can benefit.
If you give me the choice of a onetime $60-80 fee to play a game vs paying $5 here and there when I feel like it, its obvious which one is the easier pill to swallow.
A-Ha! That's the real trick. Sure, paying 5 bucks as opposed to 60 is far more palatable but once you've finished making all your purchases to customise your playing experience exactly to your liking, how much have you really spent? Admittedly it can be less than 60 bucks but invariably it's a lot more. Marketing (& prostitution) is the oldest trade in the world and is so well refined by now that you'd think there wasn't anything more to be learned but that's far from the truth. Every single person on this planet is gullible in some way and can fall for scams not realising it in the slightest. Even the best, most experienced scammers in the world can be caught out by a scam. In a nutshell, after all that waffling on it all boils down to the individual themselves. What you perceive as good value for money I may see as a ripoff and visa versa.
 

Trillionsin

Posts: 1,878   +462
@ Skidmarksdeluxe: Describing microtransactions as a despicable practice is a bit much I think. I mean I can agree somewhat if we were strictly talking about a game that has a base cost of $60. I don't think holding back content is fair for the paying player. However, for free-to-play, whining about microtransactions is just that ... Whining. It's free. It did not cost you a dime to download and fire it up. So how are the devs supposed to make money to keep the lights on? Microtransactions and subscriptions are the only answer, and frankly, games like Neverwinter are fun even if you never make a single in-game purchase. I played Neverwinter for a year and never spent a cent on the game.

@ lipe123: I agree. For some games, $5 here or there is a really good plan, but it doesn't work for every game. Multiplayer games are ideal for the microtransaction model because there are so many people playing that everybody wants to look different from the next player. Most in-game purchase tend to be cosmetic rather than advantage giving (not all though; ever play Stormfall?). So even for $60 games, cosmetic purchases are an optional perk if you are willing to pay for them. "Optional" being the key word.
I also deeply hate microtransactions, but if the game is free to play, can't complain. I can choose not to play. If the game costs anything, and then includes microtransactions to get better than others in the game (not just cosmetics).... lets say on Android or Steam, I usually uninstall it immediately and ask for my money back, maybe the only exception to this was Diablo 3, which I really didnt even play for that long, but long enough to not be able to ask for a refund. . Maybe this is more popular with older generations, as I would have to admit that I am somewhat a part of now. lol
 

lipe123

Posts: 935   +508
A-Ha! That's the real trick. Sure, paying 5 bucks as opposed to 60 is far more palatable but once you've finished making all your purchases to customise your playing experience exactly to your liking, how much have you really spent? Admittedly it can be less than 60 bucks but invariably it's a lot more. Marketing (& prostitution) is the oldest trade in the world and is so well refined by now that you'd think there wasn't anything more to be learned but that's far from the truth. Every single person on this planet is gullible in some way and can fall for scams not realising it in the slightest. Even the best, most experienced scammers in the world can be caught out by a scam. In a nutshell, after all that waffling on it all boils down to the individual themselves. What you perceive as good value for money I may see as a ripoff and visa versa.
Choice is better than no choice.

I've been playing warframe for 5+ years on and off and spent maybe $20 on it. If someone is a gambling addict and they cant stop spending money on things you cant blame companies for taking advantage of that.
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

Posts: 8,645   +3,281
Choice is better than no choice.

I've been playing warframe for 5+ years on and off and spent maybe $20 on it. If someone is a gambling addict and they cant stop spending money on things you cant blame companies for taking advantage of that.
That's what I was saying albeit in a roundabout fashion. Personally I think microtransactions is a distasteful practice but it is legal and if some people are fine with it, then fine, milk them then.
 

JudasSheep

Posts: 96   +76
I applaud Blizz for sticking it to these companies and banning players who get caught. I have always been against cheating in multiplayer. I just wish more companies would be this tough. I have always felt it the responsibility of the community to be the first line of defense against cheating/bots, but it hasn't worked, so the developers need to step in. Punkbuster is a joke, VAC doesn't work on all Steam games, so what else is there? If I had any software talent, I would of made a anti-cheat client long ago.

If you read the terms of service for Battle.net and then the terms of service for the game itself, it says you cannot bot or cheat or alter their files in anyway when connecting to their service. Blizzards ban hammer is big and heavy, I like it!
 

BadThad

Posts: 303   +225
YES! In FPS gaming cheats RUIN the game for the other players. I've been dealing with them for over 20 years online and it sucks. Developers need to actively go after the places on the web that openly advertise cheats. It is RAMPANT online in every game I've ever played (all FPS). Bots and wallhacks take the fun out of the game for everyone.
 

Urgelt

Posts: 66   +37
Bots certainly are annoying to legitimate players. So is cheating.

But it's not always so clear-cut.

Game publishers present to the public their games, coded as they are pleased to code them, and ask for players to pay them - either with microtransactions, or a one-time fee, or a recurring fee, or in some cases a combination. Should we blame players if the game publisher, which has total control over its code, says 'wait, I didn't mean for players to do that, even though the game code permits it?'

And then they can sue their customers over it, and win big bucks from them?

It doesn't exactly add up.

The annoyance players feel towards cheaters is really annoyance at the game publisher, for putting code out there for players to use which doesn't prevent the behaviors that annoy players. There is only one truly culpable party: the game publisher, the entity with total control over a game's code.