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CNET talks to Blizzard about banned players

I've tended to stay away from reporting about players angry at being banned, for reasons I'll get into in a second. But we periodically receive notices from players who think they've been unfairly banned, and there's lots of forum complaining on the same subject. The complaints have been loud enough, it seems, for CNET to take a look at the allegations, and get a nice quote from Blizzard about it.

Most of the angry players (if you are one, feel free to leave a comment below with your own story) say they try to log into their account one day and are simply banned for no reason at all. Some of them say they've even had their accounts hacked, and are then finding them banned afterwards. Most of them, in my experience, sound just like Zak, a 14-year-old interviewed in the article. He says he was banned because "I was leveling excessively and very fast, which is what power levelers do." One day he had an email in his inbox that said he was kicked out of WoW.

CNET then does what all of these players haven't seemingly been able to do, which is get a response from Blizzard about the whole thing. "We conduct a very thorough investigation before the actual ban takes place," says the Blizz spokesman. He says all bans are carried out only once Blizzard has decidedly determined that there has been action that goes against the Terms of Service and/or the End User License Agreement (that's the long text which pops up after you install every patch).

And the reason I don't have a lot of pity for the people who say they're unfairly banned is that I, for one, tend to believe him.

I tend, actually, to echo the same thoughts expressed by a few WoW players in the CNET article. (I'm not Mike, in case you were wondering, but I do agree with him).

"It's quite possible that the people who have complained about 'heavy-handedness' have not taken the time to read the terms of use," a WoW player named Mike wrote in an e-mail to CNET News.com. He also asked that his last name not be used. "Ignorance is not an excuse. It's just ignorance."

Stephen Kittel, another WoW player, echoed Mike's sentiments in his own e-mail. "When someone gets banned, there is a reason for it," Kittel wrote. "Blizzard does not wantonly expunge loyal customers. Most of the time, the complainer is not being forthcoming about what he has done."

Frankly, that's pretty much how I feel. Blizzard has taken a lot of care to make this game, and they've served well as a company for years. I don't believe that they are randomly banning players for no reason at all-- generally, I think that if these players have been banned, they're either "not being forthcoming about what they've done" (they only downloaded a bot "that one time," or they've shared their Login info with someone else, which is against the ToS-- owning more than one account is as well*), or they simply haven't understood that what they're doing is breaking the rules.

I'm not saying that Blizzard doesn't make mistakes. I'm sure they do (everyone does), and if you believe you've been banned unfairly, you should do exactly as they've said all along, and take it up with them through the appropriate channels (they ask that you email wowaccountadmin@blizzard.com with your information). I have also heard many tales of Blizzard releasing banned accounts once the situation was clarified, so it's not that Blizzard isn't answering concerns-- it's that they're not answering concerns of players who they seriously believe have broken the ToS.

I've never been banned, but I do understand that getting banned unfairly is a very frustrating thing to go through. If you've been banned by Blizzard and have sincerely never broken the ToS, I agree that's what happened is unfair. However, I also think that Blizzard is doing the best they can on both ends-- not only are they making sure that those of us legitimately playing the game aren't bothered by rampant cheating (although those ingame gold ads are getting a little annoying), but they're also doing what they can to listen to banned players' concerns and, if nothing has happened, try to get them back into the game.

*Update: I was wrong about this (thanks, ijovanovic!). The ToS says you may have one account per key, not only one account. It is not against the ToS to own multiple keys.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Economy

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