Blizzard were sued a few days ago. I know! What’s happened is this: in the wake of August’s battle.net server hack, two complainants have taken Blizz to task over what they deem to be a necessary piece of equipment in keeping battle.net accounts safe - the authenticator. Their lawyers allege the account-verifying widget should be provided upon purchase of a Blizzard game, not sold as an extra nicety. But Blizzard have dismissed the case as “frivolous”. Consequently, the PC giant is preparing to “vigorously defend itself”.
First of all, Blizzard say that the suit’s claim that the developers didn’t properly notify players about the August security breach is stuff and nonsense: “Not only did Blizzard act quickly to provide information to the public about the situation, we explained the actions we were taking and let players know how the incident affected them, including the fact that no names, credit card numbers, or other sensitive financial information was disclosed.”
The developers are also quick to refuse the suit’s further claim that Battle.net’s authenticator is needed to maintain “a minimal level of security on the player’s Battle.net account information”.
“This claim is also completely untrue and apparently based on a misunderstanding of the Authenticator’s purpose… Considering that players are ultimately responsible for securing their own computers, and that the extra step required by the Authenticator is an added inconvenience during the log in process, we ultimately leave it up to the players to decide whether they want to add an Authenticator to their account. However, we always strongly encourage it, and we try to make it as easy as possible to do.”
Okay. Perhaps the case isn’t quite as slice, dice, cut and dry as Blizzard would like it to be. The authenticator has recently become a requirement in using some of battle.net’s key features - for instance, Diablo 3’s auction house. And it does still sell for $6.50 on Blizzard’s store, with profits estimated by the complainants to be around $26 million.
Nonetheless, this particular lawsuit does have the scent of the class action suit settlement “shakedowns” Gabe Newell warns against. It seeks to not only stop Blizzard from “tacking on additional, undisclosed costs to ensure security in the form of a post-point-of-sale Authenticator”, but also have battle.net stripped from every non-MMO on Blizzard’s roster.
So that’d be Diablo and StarCraft 2 decoupled from battle.net - a state of affairs the complainants couldn’t possibly hope to come to pass. But is their cause a just one? Let us know what you think.