Hour upon hour of performing repetitive actions for no tangible reward is really the sort of thing you’d expect a robot to do, but according to Blizzard, creator of World of Warcraft, it’s for humans and humans only.
The company is now suing one Michael Donnelly for designing and selling a tool that automatically performs many in-game actions, including grinding monsters for resources, while you go away and do something useful with your time. The program is called MMO Glider and Blizzard claims it infringes the company’s copyright and potentially damages the game.
From a player’s perspective, there’s really no two ways of looking at it – to allow the use of bots effectively nulls the point in having resources to harvest or any kind of levelling system. It’s unfair on those who are not using bots and who just want to have fun playing the game.
However, the fact that this has reached a legal battle that could end up in a courtroom, and that it’s a game as big as World of Warcraft, could have far reaching consequences for other future MMOs.
Mr Donnelly’s defence rests on the fact that he claims the tool does no infringe copyright, because it copies the game into RAM to avoid detection by anti-cheat software. Blizzard in turn argues that this infringes on the End User License Agreement.
Then of course there’s the fact that the bot maker is making money off the back of Blizzard’s game and is potentially spoiling it for other players. Unfortunately that will probably only earn a side note in the legal wranglings.
Blizzard isn’t exactly winning itself popular favour by stomping down with its large legal boot, but it may well be necessary. And if it gets to court, the outcome of the decision could set a precedent that will majorly affect the design of any future pretender to WoW’s throne.