Blizzard dropped the ban hammer late last night as a wave of suspensions went out to World of Warcraft players. The purge apparently happened at around 11 pm EDT according to a post on the WoW subreddit. Suspensions ranged from six months all the way up to 18 months for repeat offenders.

It appears that Blizzard has discovered a way to detect players using the WoW bot software Honorbuddy as evidenced by a large number of ban reports posted to the Honorbuddy forum around the same time. It is unclear exactly how many people were suspended but there have been at least 60 reports to that thread in the last 15 hours.

"As most of you have already noticed, Blizzard rolled a big banwave this morning. As far as we know, every single bot/tool for WoW got fully hit," said Bossland in a statement regarding the round-up. "Honorbuddy was partially detected during the first tripwire event on October 10th which have been pushed to target us directly. After Tripwire reacted to the new detection vector and the event was analyzed, it was assumed that only a few accounts would get flagged by it. However, it is clear now that it affected a wider audience."

You might recall that Bossland GmbH, the producer of the cheatware, recently lost an $8.6 million lawsuit to Blizzard over copyright infringement. Blizzard claimed the company "reverse-engineered and otherwise altered its games without permission." The judge in the case agreed and ruled against Bossland although the software maker subsequently won against Blizzard in a German appellate court.

So it would appear that Blizzard has been working on improving its bot detection and has been trying it out for at least the last few days. Last night's suspensions likely marked the end of their countermeasures testing. If Blizzard has tuned its bot detection algorithms, it is very probable there will be more suspensions to come.

Of course, the forums are full of players who swear on their mothers that they did nothing wrong and were not using bots. One poster, using an alternate account, spun a long, far-fetched yarn about how his character kept randomly "teleporting" right before all of his toons were banned.

However, Blizzard admins are very careful when looking at the evidence. They would prefer to let a few cheaters slide than to suspend someone in error. If there is any doubt at all, they will give the player a pass which is precisely why the suspension e-mails read, "Our team issued this suspension only after a careful review of relevant evidence. Our support staff will not overturn this penalty and may not respond to appeals."

So if mistakes are made, they are usually in favor of the cheater and not the honest player.