Blizzard Announces Massive 74,000 Account Banwave

In a blue post today Blizzard announced an absolutely massive banwave. 74, 000 accounts in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe regions have been given some form of suspension in the past month. This latest wave of bans focuses on eliminating bots from the game.

We’ve recently completed a round of actions against players who were found to be cheating in World of Warcraft.

We rarely communicate publicly about this, because we’ve found that describing our sources and methods can make it easier for malicious actors to work around them, but we feel that it’s worthwhile to expand on the subject today, as many players have recently asked us for more details.

Including today’s actions, over the last month in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe regions, we’ve closed or suspended over 74,000 WoW accounts that were found to be in violation of our End-User License Agreement. The majority of these were found to be using gameplay automation tools, typically to farm resources or kill enemies much more efficiently than legitimate players can.

While today’s suspensions were applied in a batch (often referred to as a “banwave”), it is a top priority for us to identify accounts that are botting and remove them. Our team works around the clock, every day of the week, and many of the suspensions and account closures over the last few months have gone out in the middle of the night, or on weekends.

Like you, we play World of Warcraft. We understand what it’s like to spot a player in-game who appears to be botting. We always want to eliminate the botting player, if it can be proved that they are indeed cheating. And that raises a big difficulty in addressing this issue – we have to prove to ourselves that the accused player is not a person who’s actually controlling a character with their hands on a keyboard.

We use powerful systems to determine if the suspected player is using an identifiable cheat, and our heuristics (which we do not outline publicly) are constantly improving and evolving. But when we examine a suspect and these measurements aren’t out of line, we have to manually gather evidence against the accused player, which can be very time consuming and complex. It’s worthwhile though, because we never want to take action against a legitimate player.

Yes, there have been cases where a legitimate player appeared (to another player) to be botting. In those cases, where a legitimate player is reported and then cleared of wrongdoing, it can be very frustrating to the reporting player to again see what they think is a bot. We’ve also seen examples where the reported player was caught exploiting the game, and was removed from the game, and then quickly returned to doing the same thing on a new account with the same character name. That’s an infuriating sight for the players who initially reported it. We greatly appreciate your reports, and we understand how you feel about this.

We’re ultimately working to unravel a challenging circumstance. Real money trading drives third parties to put an enormous amount of effort into circumventing our detection systems. As much as this is a very high priority for us, it is the only priority for profit-driven botting organizations. The bans we issue are simply a cost of doing business for them.

We’re working on further improvements to every part of the game that might address cheating issues more swiftly and completely, and we’ll continue to let you know as those next steps are taken.

Thank you very much for your feedback on these issues, and thank you for your reports!

https://us.forums.blizzard.com/en/wow/t/actions-taken-to-address-exploitative-gameplay/558339

Botters have always been a huge issue for the economy of the game. The massive quantities of auctions that they post at low prices tank the market values of everything from herbs to cloth. This results in lower market values for every item that uses these materials as a result. While reducing the cost of items might seem like a win to some players, the long term damage this can cause to the economy will affect the whole server if the bots continue to run rampant.

The post also addressed the fact that Blizzard will never be able to complete eliminate the bots. The gold sellers that operate them will simply buy new accounts to keep their business running

This news comes a day after changes were implemented to throttle auction house activities, resulting in outrage from the legitimate goldmaking community that follows the Terms of Service. Blizzard subsequently loosened the throttling, but many are still wary of future auction house changes.

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