April 17, 2017
Do Cheaters Ever Win? Blizzard Faces Off Against Cheat-Boss Bossland
As long as there have been games, there have been cheaters, and video games are no exception. However, when online anonymity was introduced to competitive gaming, cheating exploded. Although EULA’s and ToS’s prohibit player cheating, competitive online gaming is plagued with hacks (which make the game easier to win) and bots (which play the game for you). Third parties profit from commandeering the developer’s IP to create and then sell these cheating tools and drive honest players away from purchasing or subscribing to the developer’s game. To combat cheating, developers must dual-wield cheat-detection software and, when necessary, the law.
Video game giant Blizzard, behind titles like World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Diablo, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch, has been waging legal war with cheat-boss Bossland for years. As outlined by Blizzard’s most recent suit, Bossland’s cheats allow players “to accumulate in-game experience and resources at a faster-than-normal rate, manipulate the in-game economy to the player’s advantage, and unfairly defeat opponents.” The Overwatch cheat, “Watchover Tyrant,” reads game data to generate a visual representation of gameplay revealing the position, distance, health, and name of all competitors. This is much more than peeking playing split-screen on your favorite first-person-shooter.
Blizzard accuses Bossland of (1) trafficking technologies that circumvent anti-cheating technology, (2) unlawfully accessing, copying, and reverse engineering Blizzard’s code, and (3) intentionally interfering with Blizzard’s EULA, all with the effect of causing and continuing to cause massive and irreparable harm to Blizzard. Bossland’s website proudly proclaims in it’s legal information section that Botting is not against any law.
After trying and failing to have the California case dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction over Germany-based Bossland, Bossland “skipped its turn,” and defaulted instead of defend their conduct. Thus, on March 13th, Blizzard entered a motion for default judgement.
With its strategic default, Bossland attempts to avoid discovery, hide the scope of its conduct and revenues, and render any default judgement unenforceable in Germany. Without the benefit of discovery, Blizzard is unable to calculate actual damages and is thus seeking the minimum awardable statutory damages of $200 per infringement, for 42,818 downloads. Bossland counts 118,939 downloads of its product in the United States since July of 2013, and Blizzard argues that 36%, or 42,818, is a modest estimate of sales of products for use with Blizzard Games. This calculation amounts to $8,563,600.
Bossland plans to appeal the motion to dismiss once the default judgment is served, maintaining that the US courts have no jurisdiction. For now, Blizzard will continue in its quest to “provide an equal and fair playing field for everyone,” and cheating players will be banned.