World of Warcraft Bot Leads to $6M Fine

Back in the day I dabbled with video game automation. In fact, it was the subject of my senior design project. I started macroing (playing unattended) in the first MMORPG I ever played, Ultima Online. There have been bots for every game since. Some bots are specific while others are more generalized. I’ve played around with system automation software and specific programs.

By far the most sophisticated I’ve seen was designed for World of Warcraft (WoW). WoWGlider, or just Glider, as it was called provided functionality for virtually everything in the game. The really savvy guys combined their own homegrown programs, addons, and Glider to gain lots of money and levels. These virtual goods are worth a ton. And game makers pretend to hate it. Botters get can get disconnected, killed, have their items stripped, and worst, banned (i.e. the account is deleted).

But the most aggressive actions were taken by Blizzard, maker of some of the most popular games ever (Diablo I & II, Starcraft, Warcraft 1-3). I suppose the sophistication of Glider warranted special care, so Blizzard filed suit against MDY, the maker of Glider. Based on a claim of copyright infringement, WoWGlider became MMOGlider, but that was not enough. Recently, MMOGlider lost the lawsuit filed by Blizzard. If you don’t think there’s big money involved, MDY has agreed to pay $6 million in damages!

From my observations, MMOGlider is still running strong. Tens of people are posting a day and still making money. I’m interested to see how this plays out because of the implications to copyright infringement and what we’re allowed to do in virtual worlds.