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Blizzard Awarded $6M Damages From MMOGlider 460

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the couldn't-see-that-coming dept.
dw604 writes "The makers of MMOGlider have been found in breach of the World of Warcraft terms of service and are forced to pay Blizzard $6M in damages." There's a lot of sticky issues on this one. Mostly I'm amazed that MMOGlider had that kind of cash.
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Blizzard Awarded $6M Damages From MMOGlider

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  • Desperation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by suso (153703) * on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:08AM (#25218071) Homepage Journal

    Actually, from playing WoW for 2 months now (through Wine no less), I'm not too surprised that MMOGlider made a good deal of money. Seeing the desperation of a
    lot of players, I wouldn't be surprised people would pay $25 for this thing. I probably would too if it was allowed by Blizzard.

  • Re:Desperation (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot@ ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:12AM (#25218123) Homepage Journal

    World of Warcraft - A game so fun that people pay for programs to play it for them.

  • by GaryPatterson (852699) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:18AM (#25218193)

    Surely the damages are more about stopping future Glider-type automators. Along the way, they'll bankrupt the company behind Glider, but that's less important than stopping game-automators.

  • Re:Desperation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:21AM (#25218241)

    It isn't so much desperation, but rather the annoyance that the longer this game goes on, the more you are pigeon-holed into your first character choice.

    Lets say you want to try a new character now, you better hope that you have the support of your guildmates/friends because it will take a good player 5-6 days to level that character to 70. And that is if you do nothing but grind the character up. So you don't build any of the relationships that you normally would when leveling a character normally and at a reasonable pace. You are banking on using that character with your already established guild relations.

    I can't imagine what it will be like when the level cap is raised to 80. The old content is barren enough as it is, now we will have a fairly empty outlands as well. That is unfortunate because a good many of the later quests are group quests which even now are hard as hell to gather a group for. So the game will soon be a 70 level pure grindfest for anyone interested in trying something new or joining the game. Then, add on the rep/gear grinds once you catch up to your friends again.

    To paraphrase Chris Rock, I'm not saying I agree with people who use MMOGlider, but I understand.

  • by mollymoo (202721) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:21AM (#25218263) Journal

    In the end, he could claim he was just selling software that users happened to use to violate Blizzard's TOS and EULA with. I've heard the same arguments about BitTorrent and would probably side with the software makers in this case ...

    It's not the same as BitTorrent at all. BitTorrent has legitimate, legal uses. Glider can only be used, and can only have been developed, in violation of The WoW licence. People don't just happen to use it to violate the licence, the very thing Glider is designed to do is in violation of the WoW license.

  • by Hoi Polloi (522990) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:22AM (#25218275) Journal

    I'd support glider if it meant automated farmers were pushing more high need items like primals onto the market and pushing down their price and increasing availability in the process.

  • Re:Desperation (Score:4, Insightful)

    by arth1 (260657) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:32AM (#25218443) Homepage Journal

    World of Warcraft - A game so fun that people pay for programs to play it for them.

    Indeed. It's not like the game becomes more fun after leveling up -- the satisfaction you get each time you level up and each time you find new loot that's better than what you have is the fun. Each time you are being conditioned with a reward, and move into unknown territory. Many gamers even start a new character once they get to a high level because such a large part of the fun is in advancement.

    I think a large part of the griefers are people who have power-levelled, and are really bored when they find out that the game isn't fundamentally different at a higher level -- you are stronger, but so is the enemy. Only other players who haven't advanced yet are weaker.

    That said, I don't think a tool like this should be illegal. Not any more than a car that can drive at 180 mph should be illegal. But using it on a road with a speed limit is another issue. It's easier for Blizzard to go after one guy than a hundred thousand, but it's still the hundred thousand who willingly broke the "speed limit" and should get the fine. If this program is unavailable, they'll find another. Perhaps one made by someone anonymous and outside Blizzard's jurisdiction. Will that be any better?

    My suggestion to Blizzard: Set up a server where bots and similar are allowed, and police better against them on the main servers. Even work with the developers of such programs so you can identify them if used on the main servers. Lend them insight into the code if they sign an NDA and contract stating that Blizzard will be given means to identify the software when (and only when) used on the main servers against the TOS.

    But going after the guy with a lawsuit like this isn't going to stop the phenomenon. It's going to ruin one person's life completely, and create a fair bit of animosity.
    Plus, it's a misuse of the court system, which has too much to do already.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:34AM (#25218467) Journal
    I still don't really see the motivation. That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game. That people actually want a computer to play for them is a sign of a really badly designed game.
  • by Uniquitous (1037394) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:40AM (#25218571)
    Why the flaming fugg would I pay for software to play a game for me, while also paying a subscription fee for access to the game itself? Man, I'm not saying all MMO'ers are retards, but sometimes it seems that way.
  • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:41AM (#25218575)

    That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game.

    Computers can (and have) beat the best chess players in the world. Chess is not a bad game, even though I can never beat the computer on the hardest levels. I'm not defending WOW, since I've never played it - but I disagree with your premise.

  • by Wooky_linuxer (685371) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:44AM (#25218615)

    I don't see the conflict. In fact, I think this case is ridiculous. A game should be fair? Ok, I am all for that. But simply building a tool that allows people to play unfairly does not constitute a crime or a civil offense. It might be immoral, but then my moral may be different of yours. Perhaps if you were in a tournament and someone uses a cheat, you could sue the cheater (and not the developer of the cheat, unless he happens to be the same person) for damages. But Blizzard? What damages did they had?

    Besides, I don't see how he could have infringed their copyright since he doesn't distribute the game. If people cannot meddle with their own RAM because what's in there is protected by IP laws, we live in a very fucked world already.

  • by autocracy (192714) <slashdot2007 AT storyinmemo DOT com> on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:52AM (#25218773) Homepage

    Mostly, I think, "So what?" Glider has no reason to be bound to the agreement, and I still can't see a basis for the damages. Violate the agreement, get kicked off their server.

    This comment [slashdot.org] does a good job of quantifying Blizzard's argument... but this is still much more a user problem. Don't I wish I could sue anybody who ever pissed me off in a game and made me not want to play.

    Maybe open a restaurant, and sue anybody who revs their engine on a motorcycle for causing a loss of profit and damaging the reputation of my restaurant (ooh, bunch of Harley guys hang there). Profit. :)

    (For whatever it's worth, I ride a motorcycle)

  • by Moryath (553296) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @09:56AM (#25218837)

    is that WoW killed this for the wrong reasons.

    The ability to set this to run completely unattended? BAD. I totally agree that botting is no good, it's killed a lot of MMO's.

    However, the ability to set this up to do ordinary tasks for users who have disabilities would be GOOD. It would enlarge the potential WoW audience. I'm not saying make it fine as-is, I'm saying that a "semi-unattended" setup where people playing the game just set up and monitor their macros isn't any worse than the normal mode of play (hell, wasn't that the entire control system of Final Fantasy 12?).

    A lot of potential WoW players (potential gamers in general, actually) have problems. Someone who has partial paralysis or has had a hand/arm amputated has trouble using the standard game controllers. Now think about the game systems that get around this. If you've got two good legs, you can do DDR or Wii Fit without arms. If you only have one good arm, you can use the Wiimote and at least 50% of the Wii's games (though you still can't play Zelda). On the other hand, if you go near the Xbox360 or PS3, you're pretty much fucked.

    Older titles didn't have this problem. If you have one hand, or even one of those face-stick setups with a single button, you can play Space Quest, King's Quest, and probably map the joystick to play single-button arcade games. If you have a working thumb and two fingers, you can get a two-button joystick and play NES titles.

    Do I really care if someone who has disability problems, or even carpal tunnel, is able to set off macros to do the same thing I would do in multiple steps? Not really. I can still group with them, or play the game without them.

    For some reason, however, the WoW designers don't want disabled gamers playing their game. They have ignored REPEATED entreaties from the disabled community to program in ways to make it feasible for disabled gamers to play. For quite a few, programs like WoW Glider were the fix. This is just one more symptom of the gaming industry not getting it when it comes to making their titles and systems accessible.

  • by StoatBringer (552938) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:05AM (#25218979)

    The problem is that if you can't afford to buy primals, you have to farm them up yourself. Which takes a lot longer than it should if a couple of bots are farming them 24/7.

    It's also very annoying when you realise that you have to spend several boring hours grinding mobs but the bot-user just fires it up, goes out for the day, and comes back to several bags full of precious primals (and no doubt the odd blue or purple item as well).

  • by Jim_Maryland (718224) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:09AM (#25219053)
    Actually, bots usually play much much worse then real players.

    While leveling my priest alt, I ran several instances with players (amazingly mostly hunters...guess the "huntard" term is more appropriate than I had expected) that I would argue are worse than bots.

    I think the damage to the game is that by allowing the economies to be influenced by bots and players to gain a high level character without actually learning to play it, real players become disappointed with the game. While playing a character doesn't necessarily make you a good player when you hit level 70, it certainly helps. I could sell my mage (wearing a lot of T6 gear) to a new player to the game and I'm sure people could easily tell that they have no clue how to play. If the server were heavily populated by "bad" players, I'd either transfer to another realm or quit playing the game. This is one of the forms of damage that Blizzard can claim (not sure if they can back it up, but at least they can claim it).
  • Re:Desperation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phrogman (80473) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:13AM (#25219101) Homepage

    Setting up a separate server would do nothing. The people who use this sort of software seem to be using it:

    * To save time, they are too busy to level up a character and just want to get to top level so they can "play the game". These people miss the point that the game *IS* the leveling up and any end game is a bonus.
    * They want to get to top level and get whatever advantage they can so they can be dominant over other people - suggesting they all play on a server where they all do that is counterproductive. Its not the griefer mentality.
    * Cheating at a game is a sign of poor sportsmanship (a lost concept these days it seems). If someone is willing to cheat at a game, can you trust them to agree to play on a particular server where is not cheating?

    I am glad they sued the living shit out of this guy and hopefully they bankrupt him. Next up they should go after his customer lists and sue the crap out of them as well. Cheating should not be tolerated, period. That leaves the rest of us who play MMOs legally to enjoy our balanced and fair gameplay if we can find it.

    No I don't actually play WOW, I thought it sucked very badly, but I am tired of seeing people cheat/exploit in games and not get punished for it when they are caught.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:13AM (#25219111)
    I've used the program, and it worked quite well. The main reason i used it is that sometimes the higher level content needs more of one class than you currently have online. You can use the bot to level up a character class you wouldn't normally be concerned with or actually like playing so in the event that the guild needs more priests for something you can use that character instead of your favorite class.
  • by MBGMorden (803437) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:29AM (#25219429)

    The computer doesn't play the game "better". If you've ever encountered one out in the wild you'd notice that they're truly idiotic little critters that play terribly. It's just that they AUTOMATE the process. This allows to things: easy powerleveling or easy gold farming.

    Regarding powerleveling, the real crux of the issue is that WoW, like many RPG's, really begins at max level. Sure some people enjoy the lower level stuff, but most people, particularly after they've been through all that stuff once already, just want another alt at high levels so they can raid/do dailies with etc.

    In effect, the grind from 1 to 70 (soon 80) just becomes a very, very long tutorial portion of the game that you can't skip. Blizzard has somewhat acknowedged this themselves - Death Knights will start at level 55 instead of level 1. They've made leveling under 60 (and to be under 70 post-WoTLK) faster and faster. They've made harder areas of the old world easy to solo.

    Personally, I'd like to just see a system that says that for any new character you create, you can either choose to start at level 1 if you like, OR, you have the option of starting them at 85% of the level of your highest level character. So if I have a level 80 mage, I can start a priest at level 68. That would give people enough time to learn the class, but wouldn't put them through so much repetitive content to try a new class or role.

    The second issue mentioned was gold farming, and that is obvious. Gold is the money of the game, and even grossly inefficient bots can beat a human when comparing raw time input. For example, when I farm I can get around 100 to 150G per hour. However, given my schedule restrictions, I might get to farm in game for 1 hour, maybe 2, per week. So my farming income is 300G per week tops. Lets say the computer can do 20G per hour. This is often run on a second account with the gold later mailed to the main, so it's running pretty much 24x7. At 20G per hour on average this person has a weekly income of 3360G - over 10x as much as me.

    Not sure about a solution there (other than ban the bots when they find them), but just saying that the computer is not "better at the time", it just has no time constraints and on games with heavy-time investment, it's tempting to let the computer grind out the boring parts.

    Mike

  • by Kineel (315046) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @10:33AM (#25219517)

    You think anyone here was asked their opinion? Seriously?

    "You're an idiot, here's your sign." - Jeff Foxworthy, but it applies.

    A good game isn't determined by whether or not a computer can play it. Nor whether or not a specific person likes to play it.

    A good game is determined by the value people find in playing it when they do. Do people keep coming back to it because they enjoy the experience? By that standard WoW is clearly a very good game.

    Tic-tac-toe is a bad game, whether or not a computer can play it.

  • by ksd1337 (1029386) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:09AM (#25220171)
    There's a difference. People don't actively use computers to beat other players in chess. Rather, it was a test in the ability of computers.
  • by 10101001 10101001 (732688) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:14AM (#25220289) Journal

    Read up on tortious interference.

    Willfully helping someone to violate a contract is often illegal. And that is where the fact that the functionality sold that people use to violate the contract doesn't have any secondary legal functionality, making the intention clear.

    So, I'll sign a contract with a friend where he's required to, through purely legal efforts, try to acquire majority shares in Microsoft. And when Microsoft repeatedly--again, through legal means--prevents this, I'll sue Microsoft for tortious interference. I don't know if it actually is tortious interference or not, but it sounds like it.

    Btw, it's funny in a way. There is a secondary legal functionality. It's called running MMOGlider on a personal WoW server. Oh, that's right: Blizzard has used a contract (EULA) and threats of lawsuits to prevent the creation of a competing WoW server. I guess MDY should sue them over that for tortious interference.

  • by MightyYar (622222) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @11:24AM (#25220493)

    People don't actively use computers to beat other players in chess.

    Okay, use poker then. Poker is fun - yet any online casino is full of bots.

    I'd also argue that if chess were played online and statistics kept to rank players, people would absolutely use bots to raise their rank. I'd be surprised if it weren't going on right now, actually.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @01:39PM (#25222583)

    They draw the line at how much you can spend on lawyers.

  • by Fross (83754) on Wednesday October 01, 2008 @02:08PM (#25223061) Homepage

    I hope you don't take it as offensive that I consider this the inverse of Godwin's Law - mentioning that something (MMOGlider in this case) helps disabled people in such a way that any attack on the program is seen as an attack on disabled people. Actually, I'm not overly bothered if you are offended by it, as it's a rather underhanded argument you're making there.

    Your research is also poor, as MMOGlider does not make playing for disabled people easier - the point is that IT PLAYS THE GAME FOR YOU. Anyone can sit there and watch the bot play the game. Running MMOGlider, you're not playing the game, whether you're disabled or not.

    The primary audience for MMOGlider is people levelling alts in WoW. When you've seen the content 2, 3 times or more, but you want a 70 of another class, it's a grind. I have 5 70s, I know what I'm talking about ;) (And no, I didn't use any bots). To just grind the levels with a bot makes it less painful than trying to do the now boring 30-58 level span.

    That is the badly designed part of the game, that you have to play the low level content of the game again whether you want to or not, if you want an alt. They have tacitly agreed with this, given the next expansion gives you a new class... that you can start at level 55. Arguments above the parent post of "That a computer can play the game better than a human is a good sign of a bad game" and the like are particularly ill-informed.

    Back to the matter of disabled users and WoW. There are many, many ways to set up the game so those who can only (or even, only want to) mash one button and play the game can do so. It is not the default setting, of course, because most able-bodied people want more of a challenge of coordination. Balancing the requirements of those who want their abilities challenged, versus the requirements of those with challenged abilities, is essentially impossible for most computer games where the interface is so central.

    Phrases like "For some reason, however, the WoW designers don't want disabled gamers playing their game" are distasteful, you know fully well the implied discrimination is indefensible. Factually it is inaccurate (hell, I was able to set up one of my characters to be playable only with a 3-button mouse, for instance, including macros to cast spells in sequence using the scroll wheel), both on the customisability of WoW and MMOGlider's suitability to replace the interface. The tone implying that it is an insult to disabled people because it doesn't do what you or someone else wants it to do, is a distortion of political correctness for your own ends, and is foul.

    Ultimately, Blizzard is under no legal or other requirement to make the interface to their game function in any particular way. Disabled people should vote with their dollars to buy games that they are able to play. Trying to insist that every single game cater exclusively to their needs is on a par with idiot parents trying to censor the world so their children don't have to deal with any of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 03, 2008 @03:38AM (#25243323)

    So?

    Is it YOUR PC?

    is it YOUR money buying glider?

    is it YOUR money buying wow every month?

    is it YOUR risk in getting caught using glider on wow servers?

    Then how can it be their fault? they're offering a service to people to use or abuse, I'm suspecting that most who used it were people who couldn't be bothered to grind another alt again to 70.

    I'm very annoyed that the law was bent as much as it was for blizzard to win, they should never have won it. The wow code is running on MY computer, I ALLOW IT to run on my computer, and if I bought Glider, I allow glider to run on my computer. Blizzard can deny and ban people to enter the servers because they don't like people who use glider, but how the hell can they sue the program creator and win?? that's just stupid.

    This should be a free society, and guess what, blizzard should not have won this because of the basic premise that they can't control and shouldn't have control over what I use on my computer. They control their own servers, not the users pc, and they should respect that.

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