Blizzard due $8.5 million in legal battle with botmakers

A company who make and sell cheats for Blizzard games including Overwatch, Hearthstone, and World of Warcraft must pay Blizzard over $8.5 million, a US court has ruled. This is the latest development in Blizzard’s battle with cheaty botters Bossland, which has so far spanned five years, the courts of several countries, and even more cases. This latest ruling says that, along with paying up, Bossland are ordered to stop selling their software in the US as it “circumvents technological measures that control access to Blizzard’s games”. Other cases are still ongoing, mind.

The German company owe Blizzard $8,563,600 in damages for Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations, the ruling says (as picked up by TorrentFreak). That’s 42,818 violations at $200 apiece, one for each user in the US. $176,635 in attorney fees and court costs go on top of that.

Blizzard first went after Bossland in the German courts in July 2011. Undeterred, Bossland kept on making and selling new cheats for Blizzard’s new games as they were released and keeping pace with anti-cheat measures. Blizzard have followed up with more many cases in the US, Germany, and the UK too.

Try to visit Bossland’s site in the UK and you’ll be greeted with a page blank but for a message explaining that they admitted in the UK courts that “the sale of its software [. . .] to any person resident in the United Kingdom, constitutes an infringement of Blizzard’s intellectual property rights and an inducement to players of Blizzard’s games to breach their agreements with Blizzard.”

They’re accordingly no longer allowed to sell or advertise it to UK residents, it says. Hence the exciting page we see.

Bossland have given a running commentary of legal cases on their blog, though not this latest wrinkle. Their latest, on March 18th, related to two of their multiple cases going on in the German courts. “One we lost and one we partially won,” they said.

The cheaty cheaters have fought this for years with all sorts of appeals. This is surely not the end but the courts do seem to be closing in and Bossland do seem to be tiring. Earlier this year, Bossland decided that licenses to their WoW, Diablo 3, and Hearthstone bots once sold as “lifetime” are now only two-year licenses.

“We regret, if you think that this might be unfair to you, the users,” Bossland said in January. “But a business only can carry on as long as the business can afford paying its daily costs, and a big amount of that daily costs are actually the infrastructure, the development and the legal expenses.”

Even if Blizzard aren’t declared the winners by all the courts in all their cases, their deeper pockets might let them simply bleed Bossland out.

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45 Comments

  1. aliksy says:

    People who sell cheats for multiplayer games are scum, and there’s no punishment too cruel for them.

    • svge says:

      Jesus, chill out. Keep that sort of rhetoric to the Daily mail’s comment section please.

    • CartonofMilk says:

      so you’d be ok with death penalty?

    • SanguineAngel says:

      unsure is this is a sarcastic post but I’m genuinely not sure about if it’s even that dubious. Sure, using the word cheat immediately makes me think negative thoughts but really they’re cheating in a computer game. They’re not getting a shortcut on life and the negative impact on others extends only as far the games they are playing together.

      This honestly doesn’t feel like a justified response. I’m not certain what the real financial impact to blizzard has been because of these – anyone know how we can get to a 8.5m figure?

      • CAMN says:

        The amount is explained in the article. It’s the number of bot software sales Bossland reported themselves on their website, multiplied by the current cost of one of those licenses. Plus a few court expenses.

        Blizzard didn’t even go crazy asking for money, they just used the same figures Bossland was boasting about on their website. It’s an interesting case of karma being a bitch.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          Right, no what I’m really getting at is I’m not convinced I really see how Blizzard has been damaged to the tune of that figure. I do understand that the presence of cheaters may have a negative effect on their reputation but I’m not certain that actually has any measurable financial impact based on the article

      • Kerbolosh says:

        For Hearthstone it is clear, that Blizzard lost money: Bots are able to farm for card packs so that the cheater does not need to buy them. And the fact that the cheater is willing to pay for a cheat implies that he would pay for the cards if he could not cheat.
        For other games without ingame stores it is more a reputation loss and not a direct money loss.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      Word, bro! Good guys give away cheats for free!

  2. Voqar says:

    Good for Bliz. It’s good to see someone actually do something about this kind of thing. Hopefully all the players that used the garbage got perma banned too since the reason this kind of thing exists is due to demand – no lack of losers willing to cheat at games.

    • Seafoam says:

      I’ve always wondered what the psychology behind cheating in competitive games without any monetary gain behind it.

      Are these people really so immature that they need to “win” even if they don’t deserve it? Do they honestly believe that they are the better player? Do they just enjoy taking away others fun?
      Like sheesh. Read a book about self-help or Buddhism or something because you’re not a virtuous person you cheating bastard. And youre a dick to REAL people behind your monitor screen.

      As you can see from my languange I just can’t understand the the sheer nerve of these people, I really can’t.

      But yeah, they definitely should get permabanned, you just wasted your 39 euros asshole happy now?

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        Nauallis says:

        Because they can, is basically the reason why. Same thing as with pirating software, driving way over speed limits, or generally just being an asshole to other people.

        What I wonder is why people persist in trying to cheat after having done it for awhile. Wouldn’t constantly having better abilities than everyone else you play with or against gradually become stale and less thrilling/rewarding? I suppose people get stuck thinking/feeling like that’s normal.

        • SanguineAngel says:

          there are legitimate logical reasons for some of those things too:

          cheating because it’s more fun to win or because you’re so bad that cheating makes for a more even playing field – again more fun.

          driving over speed limits because you need to get somewhere quickly

          pirating software because you require it and don’t have the money to spare or wish to trial it or, as a logical short term consumer reason – it’s cheaper than buying it

          EDIT: I was going to answer your comment on cheating being increasingly dull for cheats but have just realised that I have literally never used a cheat or hack in mp game. so I cannot really opine

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            Nauallis says:

            True, I don’t disagree with the motivations behind people doing those things. And oftentimes I think people don’t really see any difference between “This is what I’m going to do because I can get away with it,” and “This is the way things are supposed to be (for me).”

          • Seafoam says:

            Fun to cheat? If it’s so fun to just kill virtual people just shoot some bots. The real fun in Overwatch is the sport, if one just goes to a running competition and trips other runners, is that fun knowing that you cant beat them legit?

        • Sian says:

          Driving way over the speedlimit can be fun. Not for me, mind – high speeds terrify me. But my dad used to drive (legal) races and other people I know drive way too fast on streets for fun. I guess adrenaline’s involved somewhere.

  3. CartonofMilk says:

    as long as they leave my cheats for SP games alone!!!

    • Moraven says:

      AAA started selling cheats and in game chests for SP games. I miss the old days of like in single player Blizzard games having all the various cheat codes.

  4. JPRacer77Qc says:

    “We regret, if you think that this might be unfair to you, the users,” Bossland said in January.

    FU! You have clearly no concept what fairness is, cheat-making scum! Just STFU!

  5. Haxton Fale says:

    And no one seems to notice (or be troubled by that fact) that Blizzard won this case as a copyright one? It doesn’t matter how they won, what matters is that cheaters are screwed?

    • CAMN says:

      Isn’t it “technically” a copyright issue?

      I mean, Bossland is selling software that helps players break the EULA/ToS in Blizzard’s games. They are changing how the game itself works by injecting commands into it, probably even changing game files.

      • Haxton Fale says:

        >They are changing how the game itself works by injecting commands into it, probably even changing game files.

        Sounds like modding. Or are you telling me I don’t have the final say in what my PC runs? This is not a future I (or hopefully anyone) wants.

        Apparently Blizzard claims that the cheats “circumvent access control,” and if Bossland could get proper defence they could probably contest that claim – unless, of course, allowing pirates to play Overwatch online was a side-effect of their cheats. Why they offered no defence here, I do not know. What I do know is that, although cheating is despicable, so are the tactics to get at them.

        • CAMN says:

          That’s the thing, not all EULAs allow you to mod the game files. Do notice that not all games you buy are “yours”, when it comes to online games, you are buying (or agreeing to use in case of F2P) a license from the developer.

          That license has a set of rules you need to follow or you could lose that license, without being able to receive any sort of compensation for losing it.

          I can’t say much about Blizzard games, because I don’t play any of them, but I’ve read Wargaming’s EULA for World of Tanks and that is the gist of it. They allow you to play their game under their rules, and it forbids you from changing ANYTHING in the game files, unless specified otherwise. Even if they do allow for mods, although there is a list of mods they consider illegal, and your account can be banned permanently if you use them. You agree to that when you sign in into the game.

          Part of that EULA I mentioned:

          Wargaming grants you:

          (a) a limited, non-exclusive, non-transferable, non-sublicensable, revocable license to use one copy of the Software as downloaded directly from Wargaming or made available by an authorized Wargaming distributor, solely in object code format and solely for your personal, non-commercial use for lawful purposes; and

          (b) non-exclusive permission to access and use the Service for your personal, non-commercial use for lawful purposes, solely through the use of a licensed copy of the Software.

          • Haxton Fale says:

            Sure, a company can put whatever they want in an EULA, and that only entitles them to terminate the license with a particular user, i.e. issue a ban. Your reasoning above, however, makes it illegal; a software maker could then take someone to court for modifying their software.

        • Hyena Grin says:

          In a very low-level, non-specific way, you have the right to modify the game for your own personal experience. The moment you begin modifying other people’s game experiences via servers you do not own, without the permission of either, your ‘right to modify’ starts standing on very sketchy ground.

          Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins, as they say. You can’t justify affecting me directly, by saying you have a right to modify your game.

          The legal stuff is a lot more complicated than that, but this ‘I have a right to modify my game’ argument is extremely simplified, and so here is a simplified rebuttal.

      • Premium User Badge

        MajorLag says:

        EULAs and ToS are bullshit and we all know it.

        Put this in a different context: What if the people who made that Original-version WoW server had decided to fight instead of comply with the takedown? And then Blizzard won in court because they technically violated some misguided anti-consumer copyright laws?

    • ohminus says:

      What makes basing the case on copyright particularly strange is that it creates additional questions as to the applicable jurisdiction – since copyright law varies from nation to nation. It will be interesting to see if German courts will allow enforcement of this decision or not…

      • N1kolas says:

        German courts have no say in this particular case. The decision is over sales to US residents, and it bans more sales only to US residents, according to US copyright law. No other nation’s copyright law is relevant. Bossland may be able to appeal this in a US court, but not in a German one.

  6. Core says:

    The only way to get rid of cheating for good in online games is to force users to use their real life IDs to be able to play.

    • Sian says:

      Well, that would certainly keep me away from those games, and I don’t use cheats. I’m probably not alone in this.

    • Seafoam says:

      Oh boy, I would love to get letters that just say “kys” in the mail.

    • int says:

      That would instigate the whole world to only give their female offspring unisex names like Alex, and Leslie and… Hamish.

    • pistachio says:

      I am all for a digital passport. Actually I already have one to log in on government websites so I am guessing most countries already have something like it in place. The only trouble is to have different countries to do it all at once for it to work internationally.

      My bank is already selling data of my purchases to third parties. Compared to that, a government controlled digital ID is only a minor extra risk to my privacy.

      • Cederic says:

        Then someone claims you’ve cheated in their online game and you lose access to all online games – whether you did in fact cheat or not.

        Not a pleasant way to do things.

  7. Hyena Grin says:

    Thank god.

    Cheaters in online PvP games have made many games all but intolerable. I hope this permanently cripples Bossland, if not outright destroys their model. PC gaming would be infinitely improved by their absence.

  8. aircool says:

    I wish others would take note of Blizzard’s hard line. Cheating in online games is pretty low, but people making money out of it are scummy.

    There’s countless games that I’ve dropped due to cheating. I really loved PvP in Wildstar but the cheating, botting and AFK’ers killed it within a fortnight.

    When the game rebooted, I rejoined, then left again after the cheating, botting and AFK’ers killed in within a fortnight.

  9. tabyrd32 says:

    Lol, awesome, sue them to the ground. I used to think Blizzard didn’t do anything about all the bot madness, but then they created their own “pay cash for gold”, which helped reduce the ad chat spam. Now this, I really respect Blizzard now.

  10. racccoon says:

    Its pretty obvious blizzard do not have the skills of computer language/top coders to deter this.
    They have MONEY, that’s all.
    I find this a bit piss weak of blizzard to go for this. This business that operates in this area does it too basically say…make a block, or we keep going.
    In blizzard case it points too lack of computer coding skills to evade such things. , just get good coders block loopholes and stop being a bully blizzard.

    • Slazia says:

      Yes. It’s obvious all their programmers are idiots who deserve to lose their jobs… Really?

      Spending unlimited funds to protect a game from hacking makes no business sense. They are right to take the legal route in this case. They are targeting a company that makes money from selling hacks that ruin other people’s gaming experience and lose revenue from the company. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. They are protecting their business.

      I play GTA V Online. Many of my games have been completely ruined by hackers removing my weapons, stopping me finishing my missions, locking me in a box so I have to kill myself. They ruin the game for 30 other players so they can have fun. How is that good for anyone?

    • tabyrd32 says:

      you are dumb

  11. Azmoham says:

    It’s not ‘bullying’ to protect people from scummy businesses that make money off of people being crap to eachother. And besides, the hackers have way more time on their hands to create cheats and can be way more inventive with how cheats are implemented than blizzard can be with stopping said cheats.

  12. RO-nIn says:

    to be honest i sometimes cheat in games but only single player… cheating in multiplayer is just wrong and messing up the experience of other players. punishment is ok

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    MajorLag says:

    Ugh. Ok, great. I’m generally against cheating in multiplayer games so that’s nice and all, but Blizzard won this in the worst possible way: copyright law.