I suppose it had to happen eventually. Blizzard‘s done a rather miraculous job of keeping hackers at bay for quite some time, but this year saw a few too many blemishes muddy its track record. So naturally, it’s lawsuit time. Specifically, the two plaintiffs target a May admission of an increase in account compromises on Blizzard’s part and August’s rather messy Battle.net breach. Then they take aim at what they believe to be the all-too-achey-breaky heart of the matter: authenticators.
In short, the suit alleges that Blizzard’s recent authenticator requirements – for instance, in order to use the real money auction house in Diablo – constitute deception. In essence, they claim, it’s another product you must purchase that’s not disclosed until money’s already traded hands. So said lawyer Hank Bates:
“Blizzard requires all of its customers to establish accounts with its online gaming service, Battle.net. But it fails to disclose to consumers, prior to purchase, that they’ll need additional products called authenticators to keep information stored in these accounts safe. Even though the company frequently receives complaints about accounts being hacked, it simply tells the customer to attach an authenticator to their account. Blizzard doesn’t inform people about this requirement when they purchase the game, and that amounts to a deceptive trade practice.”
Further, he notes that products should include all necessary tools to keep them locked down out of the box (or infinite virtual expanse that’s basically the polar opposite of a box, as it were).
As is, the suing duo believes Blizzard has made $26 million off authenticator sales – one of which goes for $6.50 on Blizzard’s website. Alternatively, there’s a free mobile option, but Blizzard admitted that those “could potentially” have been compromised earlier this year. To make up for it, the suit demands damages and that Blizzard be barred from “tacking on additional, undisclosed costs to ensure security in the form of a post-point-of-sale Authenticator.” Lastly, they also want to permanently prevent Blizzard from requiring Battle.net accounts for any game that’s not an MMO.
As of now, Blizzard still hasn’t responded to requests for comment concerning the lawsuit’s rather bold claims and infinitely bolder demands. And while I can’t help but agree that reliable security of personal info in online games should be a right – not a purchasable privilege – I don’t really see Blizzard eventually firing back with, “Oh shit, guys, you got us. Well damn. We kinda had this coming, though. Thanks for being good sports about it, anyway.”