Iranian players of World of Warcraft and Diablo 3 have found their connection to the games blocked for the past week. A Blizzard spokesperson has said that they have discontinued service to Iran due to US trade sanctions that prevent them from making money in certain countries. Due to these laws they also claim they are unable to offer "any refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries."
The problem first began six days ago, within 24 hours there were hundreds of posts on the forums. Some were claiming that the Iranian government was responsible for the service denial, claiming they had forced Blizzard into ceasing their service. Others pointed to the US trade embargo.
It took three days for a Blizzard representative to respond:
"Our team has been watching this thread closely, and we understand the desire for more information about this situation. Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.
This also prevents us from providing any refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows."
The software utilized by World of Warcraft and/or the Service may not be downloaded or otherwise exported or re-exported into (or to a national or resident of) Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Syria or any other country to which the U.S. has embargoed goods." The Terms of Service for Battle.Net, Diablo 3, and Starcraft 2 all make similar claims. But they have always said this.
This raises one particular question, the trade sanctions in effect are not new - some of them date back to 1987 - and there are a lot of them. Why has Blizzard only now decided to end the service to Iran?
The Verge have been in contact with an Iranian journalist who relates recent activity from the Iranian government against Western games. He provides an image of a government pamphlet listing
"examples of the means [in] which western propaganda is used to poison the mind of [the] youth population in Iran,":
- Promotion of superstition and mythology.
- Promotion of violence due to too much violence.
- Abolishing the deformation in sin.
- Demonstration of inappropriate clothing and slutty outfits for female avatars.
We've contacted Blizzard and we'll let you know if there's any response.