By John Walker on February 23rd, 2008 at 4:59 pm.
“We would like to make a clear statement here about the negative impact of buying gold and using power-leveling services,” they begin, presumably in response to increasing activity in these pursuits. “Every day, we encounter players who have been negatively affected and targeted by companies offering these services.” The aim of the piece is to highlight how these negative effects come about, and why.
It’s an odd piece. Rather than using what you might think of as more direct language, and saying, “Stop buying gold, you cheating bastards,” they instead take the route of suggesting those who take advantage of off-world gold sellers are “victims”. It’s an interesting approach. And then they turn to our better natures.
“We regularly track the source of the gold these companies sell, and find that an alarmingly high amount comes from hacked accounts. These are the friends, relatives, and guildmates you may know who have gone through the experience of having characters, gold, and items stripped from them after visiting a website or opening a file containing a trojan virus. Our teams work to educate players and assist them in avoiding account compromise, but the fact remains that the players themselves are often these companies’ largest target as a source for gold, which the companies then turn around and sell to other players.”
There’s another interesting suggestion. Apparently people who give their account details to power levelling services (sites that will get your plucky young character up to your desired level in super-quick time) are then finding their accounts hacked months later. In fact, they claim, it’s a whole lot more serious than you might think.
“In addition to consequences such as possible account suspension or closure, in many cases the companies they paid then use their personal information to perpetrate identity theft and credit card fraud. These are long-lasting effects on players’ personal lives that can take years to recover from.”
As well as mentioning that it’s diverting Blizzard’s time away from development, which obviously players would rather their efforts were focused on, Blizzard’s approach here is very much an appeal to think beyond each individual’s immediate gain, and ask that players think as a community. Perhaps next time they’ll be a bit more direct, and start calling out the cheaters themselves.