World of Warcraft raiding is a long, grindy, somewhat-thankless process. You do it for the love, at least for now, but some folks do it for the money. Selling runs – boosting characters who haven’t had the playtime or don’t have the skill to do dungeons themselves, giving them loot and achievements – is fairly common. Most do it for in-game gold, giving particularly great guilds effectively infinite Battle.net balance. Some do it for real money, which is not only against TOS, but now something Blizzard are actively banning for.
Here’s what coming next in WoW patch 7.2.
In a post on the forums yesterday, community manager Bret ‘Ornyx’ Forbus announced Blizzard’s actions against various sellers of real-money runs. Of note is mention that “many [of those banned] were members of top raiding guilds.”
Real money sales of the game’s hardest content by those celebrated for doing it first is one of the game’s worst kept secrets. Individuals who claimed to be involved with the earliest runs have told me the prices were in the thousands of dollars, split evenly between members of the raid. It was part of how they legitimised the obscene time commitment to the game.
That won’t be happening any more, with this move accompanied by an announcement that “going forward, in order to ensure fair play and competitive integrity, we’ll be monitoring these activities much more closely in order to make sure that the rules are being followed. This includes selling services for real money, account-sharing, and other violations.” Account-sharing is another common practice that’s against TOS, having players log on to other guild members’ characters who are better geared or better balanced to combine player skill and numbers advantage as efficiently as possible.
The rest of the post lays out what is okay, and the dodgy signs that usually indicate something against TOS is happening. It was followed by a post from Josh ‘Lore’ Allen, now Blizzard’s global community engagement manager (gz) for WoW, stating that this was only “a warning” and punishment would be harsher in future:
“As some players have pointed out, we were indeed very conservative with this initial round of actions, and only issued penalties to a handful of the most egregious offenders who had blatantly and openly violated our terms of service. These are meant to serve as a warning to all players who participate in such activities, as we intend for future actions to be much more comprehensive, and the punishments more severe.”
The blind-eye no longer turned, hopefully this doesn’t push a few more over the edge into quitting. As pointed out by a few members of the community, with gold now easily available for real money via the WoW token, those who want to pay hard-earned cash for a run still can, it’s just Blizzard who takes the dollars and pounds instead of a guild. While that’s unlikely to even be a drop in the ocean of money the game generates daily, it’s more an issue of making sure their game isn’t an avenue for potentially fraudulent behaviours, as well as the mentioned need for competitive integrity.