World Of Warcraft Purges Thousands Of Cheaters

Online fantasy game has been plagued with players selling in-game objects, including characters and gold, for real-world money.

April 14, 2006

2 Min Read
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Blizzard Entertainment Inc., maker of the massive online game "World of Warcraft," purged thousands of players' accounts this week for cheating.

The online fantasy game, which boasts more than five million subscription-paying customers, has been plagued with players, and even massive marketplaces, selling in-game objects, including characters and gold, for real-world money. Unlike other online, multi-player games, World of Warcraft bans the practice of trading virtual items for real dollars.

Some games in fact, such as Sony Online Entertainment's Everquest II, have established officially sanctioned marketplaces where players can buy and sell game goods.

The company banned more than 5,400 players and suspended 10,700 more for breaking those rules.

According to Blizzard, many of the banned players were using third-party software to "farm" the game's gold and other items. "Such actions can severely impact the economy of a realm and the overall game enjoyment for all players," Blizzard said in a statement issued Wednesday."Farming" refers to the practice of playing the game with the sole purpose of accumulating virtual gold or other in-game items, such as weapons, so that they can be sold for real money. Some farming is done by players literally warehoused in countries such as China; the workers "play" the game in shifts. Other forms of farming rely on automated bot programs to harvest the virtual money and objects.

"We will continue to aggressively monitor all World of Warcraft realms in order to protect the service and its players from the harmful effects of cheating," Blizzard added.

The company also said that many of the accounts closed were brought to its attention by other players, who can report suspicious activity via e-mail or to managers while playing the game.

Comments left by World of Warcraft players on the company's Web site were uniformly positive about the crack-down.

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