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Blizzard Responds: Security lawsuit without merit

Blizzard responds Security Lawsuit without merit


Law firm Carney Williams Bates Pulliam & Bowman, PLLC have filed a class action lawsuit against Blizzard Entertainment, and its parent company, Activision Blizzard, on behalf of "millions of American customers who have been harmed by Blizzard's negligent and deceptive practices related to its customers' account security".

Representing Carney Williams, Hank Bates, in the law firm's press release, summarising the complaint, states that:


"Blizzard requires all of its customers to establish accounts with its online gaming service, Battle.net, but it fails to disclose to consumers, prior to purchase, that they'll need additional products called authenticators to keep information stored in these accounts safe. Even though the company frequently receives complaints about accounts being hacked, it simply tells the customer to attach an authenticator to their account. Blizzard doesn't inform people about this requirement when they purchase the game, and that amounts to a deceptive trade
practice. Worse still, Blizzard has failed to maintain adequate levels of security for its
customers, time and again, which led to a significant loss of private data in Blizzard's
safekeeping."

Blizzard has responded to the allegations raised by Carney Williams &co., stating that "This suit is without merit and filled with patently false information, and we will vigorously defend ourselves through the appropriate legal channels."

See Blizzard's full response after the break.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

The Lawbringer: My final thoughts on Blizzard

The Lawbringer My final thoughts on Blizzard
Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

There is a lot to be said about Blizzard, the scrappy little company founded more than 20 years ago because hey, why not? A bunch of guys liked video games, graduated from UCLA, and borrowed money from their grandmas. Eventually, Blizzard became the game company we know today, a powerhouse in the industry with no signs of slowing down. World of Warcraft is resting comfortably at around 10 million players, StarCraft is still a national sport in Korea, and Diablo III has pierced the hearts of gamers who would have never picked up a click-and-slash.

Today is my last day at WoW Insider, and you've probably already read the sappy goodbye [Editor's Note: Actually, it'll be up at 8pm EDT]. Whatever. We've still got columns to write, people. For my last Lawbringer, I want to share with you a little bit about what made this column special to me and why your support turned this column from an idea into something widely read, as well as my hopes for Blizzard in the future. I cannot thank you all enough for letting me have my soapbox and a place to rant.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Big Pineapple problems

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Diablo III is a popular video game for the PC and Mac that sold a lot of copies and made a lot of people happy. Also, there was a lot of money. With great success comes great responsibility and cost, since the amount of success becomes proportional to the amount of crap to deal with to make the operation run smoothly. Being successful in the video game industry is not always what it's cracked up to be.

This past week has shed some light on two very interesting Diablo-related news pieces, putting Blizzard and its blockbuster dungeon crawler at the heart of scandals, government raids, clever vendors, banned games, and more international intrigue. You'd think that this was all a James Bond plot, but for the presence of guys with fanny packs and an overabundance of Utilikilts.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Diablo sells lots, Blizzard dodges another bullet

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Blizzard has been off to a pretty good start with Diablo III, selling who-cares-at-this-point millions of copies of the game people have been waiting over a decade to get their hands on. The craziest part about the whole thing is that it lived up to the hype -- a new Diablo game that felt like a Diablo game. Good for you, Blizzard! That's not what today's Lawbringer is about, no sir or ma'am. I've got a few topics I'd like to ramble on about today.

You know those days in high school when the teacher was inbetween lesson plans and they just sort of rambled to you for that one day that they had set aside in case Federico didn't understand the "green light" symbolism in The Great Gatsby? That story happened, but I changed the names to make it more funny to the people who get the joke. Great way to start off this edition, right? Make the most inside-baseball column on WoW Insider get a little more in-jokey. Mat, you sure know how to hook 'em.

No, wait, stay. I've got lots to say about Diablo III, the potential issues with the real money auction house, and my own thoughts on the cross-realm compromise and dodging the dreaded "merge." I think you'll have plenty to say in the comments after today's topics -- they are some of my favorites.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Blizzard and Valve settle on DOTA

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

One of the highest-profile disputes in the gaming industry has come to a settlement agreement. Blizzard has agreed that it will back off from Valve's use of the DOTA trademark for commercial use, while Blizzard retains noncommercial use of the term for modders, map creators, and the community revolving around the game. In addition to the commercial/non-commercial separation, Blizzard has officially changed the name of its upcoming Blizzard DOTA to Blizzard All-Stars, so expect a new branding push soon. At the end of the day, I am still bewildered as to why we're fighting over DOTA, an acronym and phrase that comes packed with baggage and various connotations.

Back in 2010, Rob Pardo told Eurogamer essentially that trademarking DOTA was a slap in the face to the community that created the genre, and for a company that built a great deal of its success on mods, it seemed genuinely out of place for Valve. While everything is always about money, sometimes things are about money just a little less. With its own products announced using the DOTA name and former-DOTA developers having joined S2 Games and Riot Games to create Heroes of Newerth and League of Legends respectively, the MOBA genre is healthy.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: 7 tips on holding the security line

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Data breaches cost a lot of money, consumer satisfaction, and trust. In the MMO world, the trust that exists between the game's developer and the player is a tricky relationship to navigate and extremely fickle. Any number of wrong moves or postures can turn your profitable subscription MMO into a public relations nightmare forced to turn the wagon around mid-trip. Security compromises a large part of that MMO trust.

Blizzard has had its fair share of security issues and trust problems between the players and itself. As the first MMO to have to battle hackers and not just gold farmers to the scale present in WoW, Blizzard had to invent its own way to do business in the world as it was -- an insecure place dominated by gray-market gold sellers and account hackers looking to sell to an eager, ready-to-spend playerbase. While WoW isn't the astronomically large service that some others affected by recent and notorious hacks are, it serves as an example of one of the big guys in the industry doing their best to navigate a minefield.

Greg Boyd and Gary Kibel wrote an article for Gamasutra discussing seven steps to improved security in the online and gaming space. After reading over the article, I felt that many of the points discussed had Blizzard and WoW-specific analogs and real-world examples that might shed some light on the security concerns still out there, what WoW has accomplished in the MMO security space.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

One dollar and fifteen percent

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Before we begin today's Lawbringer, I wanted to give you all your homework for next week's topic. Greg Boyd wrote an excellent article over at Gamasutra about improving the game industry's security and data privacy issues. Blizzard is one of the companies out there with huge online security concerns but seems to get by fairly well. I will examine Blizzard through Boyd's seven steps and show how Blizzard is leading the charge and how other game companies could benefit from Blizzard's trials and tribulations.

Fifteen percent is going to be the new number that people will be talking about for a good, long time. Why? Blizzard has set a standard in the American markets for real-money auction house cuts and fees. With Diablo III literally bursting from its hellish mother's writhing, pestilence-ridden birthing sack, players will soon be entering the world of Sanctuary and wearing out mice so fast that the stress on the peripheral market's demand crushes a generation of hopeful clickers. Diablo III will consume a lot of people's souls for a while, so it's best to get them all prepared now, not later.

Blizzard has begun the arduous process of educating the playerbase about these new and radical systems coming with Diablo III. The real-money auction house is the big ticket item here, proving a safe and secure place for players to interact and auction items, much like they currently do in the seedy, potentially dangerous gray markets for virtual item trades and sales. Going to these sites is the equivalent of going to gold sites, to compare it to a WoW phenom, with the same risks and hazards coupled with the same instant gratification. Why have a company with which you have no recourse have your credit card information, when you could give it to Blizzard instead? At least you know where they live.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Autonomous systems deal with customer service problems

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

At the beginning of March, Blizzard laid off 600 positions from the company in many departments, many of which came from the customer service and community side of the company. The official response and reasoning for the layoffs is internal restructuring of much of the way World of Warcraft's customer support is handled. Restructuring could mean a lot of things, after all, so the vagueness of what was happening threw people off.

I surmised that one of the reasons for the sudden downsizing of customer support had to do with the development of new, better, and more automated tools that perform many of the mundane repair or restore jobs customer service was previously responsible for. Staffed for a new subscription number and armed with a more stable infrastructure, account recovery tools, and now the automatic item restore feature, the Blizzard customer service team was able to shed personnel and keep expected services active.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Tying up Etsy, Annual Pass loose ends

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Resolution is something we rarely get in life. People are cagey, issues are weird, and tying up loose ends is a business of winding down all its own. There are two fairly loose ends still waving in the wind out there that I had some more opinions on and thought you would be interested in the share. If you guys have any topics from The Lawbringer that you'd like to see reexamined, updated, or even be told the other side of, let me know. We can work something out, you and me.

The first issue that comes up in my email all the time is from people selling items on Etsy that are based on or inspired by artwork, characters, or designs from World of Warcraft. It's its own cottage industry, as the secondary and tertiary markets open up around the stadium that is Warcraft. People making WoW goods often want to sell them and have many questions in that vein. What is right? What is wrong? Maybe I can shed a little light on the subject.
Good afternoon:

Love your column; not sure if you've answered anything regarding this type of thing before, but here it goes.

I always wanted to open a restaurant/diner, regardless of the intense amount of work this endeavour would take, what if any would the legal ramifications of naming the restaurant after an inn from the World of Warcraft Universe or the items on the menu? Of course they wouldn't have the actual ingredients but it'd would be fun to have Raptor Eggs as a breakfast item for example.

Was there not a column about people selling WoW inspired items via sites like Etsy and the like? Would it be similar?

Would the laws vary if one were in a different country? Canada for example?

If it has been answered before a link to the previous article would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!!!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Mail bag 11

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

I'll beat this dead horse until it rains horse pieces -- thank you all so much for coming out to the WoW Insider Show live podcast at PAX East. There was a lot of love in that room, especially for Lawbringer, which was a pleasant surprise. More people asked me about specific Lawbringer topics than anything else I write about, so you all must be enjoying something going on here.

Speaking of you, I've got a couple of emails that you sent in that I'd like to answer. Reading your reactions and opinions about the subjects of these articles is great in the comments, since there is instant gratification, but there is something about the delayed reaction and thoughtfulness of an email. I may not agree with you -- I usually don't agree with anyone, much less myself -- but I'll read what you've got to say.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

How Blizzard's over-caution saved it from a PR nightmare

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Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

The Titanic was the largest cruise ship ever built. It was proclaimed to be unsinkable, defying natural laws to those who did not understand how the behemoth could float. In the end, the Titanic sunk not because she was a weak ship but because the ship tried to turn from an iceberg, causing catastrophic hull damage. If the ship had plowed through the iceberg and not changed course, there is a greater chance it could have avoided catastrophe.

While comparing Blizzard to the Titanic doesn't exactly evoke a positive connotation, it should. The Titanic sunk because of mistakes made. Blizzard's conservative game design attitude and philosophy have served it well -- being open to change and modification while holding on to the core concepts of WoW and trying not to deviate in profound, risky ways. The risk sometimes works -- transmogrification, void storage, Raid Finder, Real ID (and soon Battletags), etc. Sometimes, the risk doesn't exactly lead to the best reward -- the Real ID debacle, the vocal hardcore minority and Cataclysm heroics, and the Dance Studio. Blizzard understands that the juggernaut cannot turn too quickly, or it risks the type of deep, jagged incision that sinks the unsinkable.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: The warlock green fire class action lawsuit

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

As I am gearing up for PAX East and getting my things in order for the trip, I did not have a chance to write the Lawbringer I wanted to for today. Instead, I was "busy" with other work for a new client that I think you guys and girls might be able to resonate with. Are you going to PAX East? You should come meet me and the WoW Insider crew and see the live podcast! Follow @wowinsider or myself (@gomatgo) on Twitter for more announcements about where and when myself and the WoW Insider crew will be hanging out at the convention.

CLASS ACTION COMPLAINT

PRESENTED IN THE COURT OF THE HIGH KING
FOR THE DISTRICT OF STORMWIND:

----------------------------------------------------------x Index No.: 5318008

Warlocks, denizens of the Twisting Nether, and other fel beings
on behalf of all other persons and demons similarly situated,

Plaintiffs,

vs.

Blizzard Entertainment, dream shatterers,

Defendants.
----------------------------------------------------------x

On behalf of all warlocks, fel beings, demons, succubi, fel hunters, demon hunters, fel beasts, fel handlers, felsteeds, infernals, female infernals, imps, fel imps, fel bears, satyrs, gnomes, and any and all other universal or otherwise beings that do not possess the ability to create green (or "fel") fire, Plaintiffs state the following complaint:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Humor, The Lawbringer

Does the Annual Pass guarantee instant beta access?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

A number of WoW Annual Pass subscribers are upset over a change to the Annual Pass terms, which now grant access to the Mists of Pandaria beta test over successive invite batches as opposed to the originally advertised "when it goes live." When the Annual Pass was announced at BlizzCon, I had never dreamed that Blizzard would let in press, fan sites, players, Annual Pass holders, opt-in players, and more at the exact same time. It has not been the norm for Blizzard to run things in such a way, but these days, it's hard to expect the norm from Irvine.

My honest reaction to this whole controversy is that in the course of four weeks, it won't be a huge deal because a majority of people looking to get beta access immediately will probably have it. The people who have or had beta access will do what a majority of players do -- play for a little bit, check out the pandas, show their friends, and then they're gone until release day. That's fine and dandy, no doubt about it, but a lot of the rhetoric coming from the community is that beta was a chance for them to try the game and see for themselves. That's not what a beta is about, in principle.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Mailbag 10

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

With Mists of Pandaria information on the horizon, players are clamoring for release dates, beta information, and everything in between. People just want something, anything, to tide them over. How about The Lawbringer? We're talking some Mists beta and the Diablo real money auction house. Won't you join us?

Mailbags are fun because the discussion topics come to me. Readers always have some great questions, and I'm more than happy to delve into an answer or two. This week's questions are ones that I get frequently and, with the recent couple of weeks' being newsworthy and fun, emails sometimes get left in the mud. Well, let's answer some emails.

Our first Lawbringer email comes from Toro, who wants to know what's up with Mists of Pandaria beta access that is guaranteed through subscription to the WoW Annual pass:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Why a week-long NDA for the MoP press event?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

From what we can gather, the first half of March is going to be a fun time for Diablo III fans with a teased announcement, and the second half of March will be devoted to the Mists of Pandaria press tour's kick-off and information dump. We're all waiting patiently like good little boys and girls, mere hours from a large, gift-giving morning event, stirring and shaking with happy excitement. Well, too bad -- because once information is gathered by fan sites and news outlets, you've got to wait a week before the goods get gotten. Blizzard has stated that there will be a week-long NDA after the beginning of the Mists of Pandaria press event.

NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) are a staple of the video game industry. To understand the NDA is to understand the very unique relationship the video game industry has with its fan community. Many will enter this conversation brazenly, proclaim the absurdity of a system based on hype and advertisements of the same product being reported on, and exit stage right. There are problems with the system. The system is also young, naive, and growing into its own -- we have a long time to shape it.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

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