Blizzard Shuts Down Bot Company
World of Warcraft

After a two-year court battle, Blizzard Entertainment has won an injunction against Ceiling Fan Software, a company that sold botting programs such as Pocket Gnome and Shadow Bot for World of Warcraft. Blizzard was able to demonstrate to the court that Ceiling Fan's Software damaged its business and that the nature of the damage was such that a permanent injunction against said software was an appropriate legal ruling.

World of Warcraft (WoW) players are well-familiar with botters, people who use automated programs to play the game unattended. Ceiling Fan's entire business was built around selling bot programs for WoW, which are against Blizzard's Terms of Service agreement and are wildly unpopular with the portion of Blizzard's customer base that plays the game as intended. As a result of this court case, Ceiling Fan has been forced to suspend operations and pay millions of dollars in damages to Blizzard.

This case is both good and bad for gamers as a whole. On one hand, it sets out some clear guidelines that can help other game companies go after people who sell cheating software, and that's good for online games of all kinds. On the other hand, part of the judgment cites Blizzard's Terms of Use agreement and EULA as legally-binding contracts between Blizzard and its players. Considering some of the wildly anti-consumer language that is often found in these documents, that's a legal precedent that might have negative consequences for gamers in the future.

Ceiling Fan has shut down operations as a result of the court's injunction, and hasn't indicated whether it intends to appeal or contest the ruling. This case certainly won't end botting in WoW, but it pushes the practice back underground (Ceiling Fan was quite open about the fact that its software was against Blizzard's rules and that players could be banned for obvious botting behavior). Of course, this single case does little to stem the activities of overseas “gold farming” companies which perform the lion's share of WoW botting. That problem is a much stickier wicket for companies like Blizzard.

Becky Cunningham
Becky Cunningham
@BeckyCFreelance

Senior Contributing Writer
Date: 10/21/2013

10/21/2013 12:15PM

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