Thursday, April 12, 2007

Blizzard vs. WoWGlider

The Forge has a series of articles on the Blizzard vs. WoWGlider lawsuit (link goes to the latest article, follow the links from there). WoWGlider is a bot program for World of Warcraft, and Blizzard not only wants the company that makes it to stop selling it, they also want all of the money the company earned.

Now I never used a bot in my life, as I think that wasting time is what games are made for, so using a program to do it for you is counterproductive. And I certainly don't condone the use of bots. But *somebody* should tell Blizzard that an EULA / TOS is not a piece of legislation. You can ban people using bots, but writing rules to outlaw bots yourself, and then trying to sue somebody based on these self-made rules seems rather spurious to me.

The main reason I don't like macros and bots is that they are living proof that my favorite hobby consists of a series of repetitive actions needing no intelligence. If you and me both started a new level 1 character, and I were to play my character as I play all of my characters about 30 hours a week, and you were to play your character with WoWGlider 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it is obvious that your character would reach level 70 faster than mine, and have more faction and more gold than my character. Me (hopefully) playing better than a bot is easily outweighed by the bots longer playing hours. The bot is superior to me as a WoW player, measured by the same standards as the leet players think they are superior to me. The bot makes a laughing stock out of any claims that skill is needed to play WoW, because obviously the bot doesn't have skill, but still ends up being more successful in the game than any human player.

So the obvious way for a game company to get rid of bots would be to make a game that really takes skill and intelligence to advance in, and thus couldn't be played by a bot. Blizzard sueing the makers of WoWGlider would be like Ford sueing the makers of screwdrivers, because screwdrivers can be used to hotwire a car and steal it, instead of designing a better lock. Somebody using WoWGlider is breaking his contract with Blizzard, and Blizzard has all the right to ban him for that. But no such contract exists between Blizzard and the makers of WoWGlider. And "providing a tool for customers to break their contracts" is not a criminal offence. I don't see Blizzard sueing the makers of programmable keyboards or mouses.

You can't just sue somebody because you don't like what he does, even if you are multi-million dollar company. Blizzard obviously hopes that a small bot-making company can't pay all the legal fees to effectively defend themselves, and can thus be sued out of existence with a frivolous lawsuit. Whatever you think about bots, that is just wrong. The only people Blizzard has any right to attack are the users of bots, not the makers.

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