Tuesday, December 20

Blizzard sues Pocket Gnome World of Warcraft bot creators

Blizzard Entertainment does not like bots operating in World of Warcraft, and demonstrated that by taking the company behind WOWGlider to court a few years ago, winning damages, and shutting the bot down. Now a new bot has appeared, and Blizzard is attempting exactly the same thing with another lawsuit.

This new bot is called Pocket Gnome and is offered by Ceiling Fan Software (run by Brian Becker and Statnton Fraser). The number of players that can actually take advantage of Pocket Gnome is limited as it seems to only work on Intel Macs. Even so, due to the automated functionality it offers, Blizzard wants sales of the bot stopped and damages paid.

As you can see from the interface image below, Pocket Gnome allows the player to automate a whole load of repetitive tasks in the MMO. If used effectively, you could leave WoW running all day and return to find your character has leveled up significantly without any direct input from you.

Blizzard is arguing that such functionality is detrimental to the game as a whole, and “frustrating” for legitimate players. They even claim Pocket Gnome is “diverting revenue from Blizzard to defendants” in this case Ceiling Fan Software. The amount made off sales of Pocket Gnome (which includes both an up front fee and monthly charge) is speculated to be between tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Ceiling Fan know that Pocket Gnome is breaking the terms of service for WoW, and they even openly acknowledge it does on the bot’s website. It is followed by a warning that if you get caught you will be banned, but also that bans are avoidable if the bot is used in a smart way.

With WOWGlider losing out to Blizzard’s lawyers, I suspect Pocket Gnome will suffer a similar fate. How long it takes before the bot disappears depends on how much cash Becker and Fraser are willing to spend on their defense, and if they have anything to counter the lawsuit with.

We must point out that not all MMO bots are bad. In 2009 a WoW bot was shown off at the Defcon security conference that had been created to act like a human player. It was not developed further, but the API was made available for anyone interested in using it. I wonder if Pocket Gnome includes any of the tech released for that bot at Defcon?

via Courthouse News Service

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