Monday, January 27, 2014

A Blizzard Of Tears: Botters Banned In World Of Warcraft

"I got a 72hr on my main. But if it makes you feel any better i've lost about 30 accounts over the last 2 years."

I originally planned on trying to make a scholarly post using the words of botters to illustrate the differences between CCP's and Blizzard's methods of dealing with botters and hackers.  But after reading Blizzard's ban policy, I gave up on that thought.

The Penalty Volcano: Blizzard's Ban Policy

The reason that I bring up the ban policy is to prepare those reading this post for the confusion that ensued.  For example, in EVE Online, CCP will ban botters 30 days for a first offense and issue a permanent ban for a second offense.  Blizzard is a little more flexible, with no set penalties and with nothing between 3 days and permanent.  The confusion begins below the cut.

buzwork (72 hour suspension) - "Rather interesting... they banned two separate accounts (different accounts) including one that I haven't logged onto in about a month."
Arroin (account closed) - "Haven't Logged in since last night.. tried to log in ,, got a message account banned. checked email and had this waiting on me:"

Offense: Use of Bots or Third-Party Automation Software

Blizzard has terminated this World of Warcraft license after identifying the usage of bots or other cheat software.

These programs (commonly called cheats, bots, and hacks) automate certain aspects of gameplay, or provide unintended advantages and abilities to the player. This type of cheating undermines other players' experience and severely upsets the balance of the game environment.

Blizzard reserves the right to terminate access for conduct of this nature, with or without warning, as noted in the World of Warcraft Terms of Use:
Blizzard Entertainment:World of Warcraft Terms of Use

This page contains details on how suspensions are appealed and reviewed:

Blizzard Entertainment

healzzz (72 hour suspension) - "Haven't used PQR since early November - so logging must have been going on for at least 2 1/2 months."
The pattern of the bans is a little random.  I think that a consensus developed that people who used the bot in PvP (like Arenas) received permanent bans while those who restricted their use to PvE received a lighter punishment.  But that caused some heartache among some.
cahe (action unknown) - "All this ban is fu*c*ing bullshi*, ppl use bot 24/7 and get 72h suspend rest use it 2h per day and get perm is so random i think."

cahe (action unknown) - "I dont wanna say that bad they ban ppl but i dont understand how they ban... cuz ppl using it all the time get 72h and for example ppl use it ocasionaly get perm i think that not fair... ban all or dont even bother."

surfman (some accounts closed, others suspended for 72 hours) - "Blizz's system of detection and punishment is never 100% it failed when they "tried" to detect RBG win traders and perma banned some of the top PvP'rs and left some obvious win traders on the ladders. Some say its about 75% accurate but no one will ever know. So I am in the same boat as you as are many other people with Main accounts banned yet obvious botting accounts let off on 72hrs. Its why you just have to say bye and leave once and for all.
prettycooldude (account closed) - "I was perma-banned and I used PQR maybe three times a month at the most. I wasn't ever banned or warned before this.  Clearly your logic doesn't hold, as I used PQR VERY INFREQUENTLY, yet was still perma'd.  I wish there was a reason why so many are getting a light slap on the wrist, and then again many people like myself lose their accounts FOREVER, all the ****ing time spent GONE

"i really can't believe no one else is complaining about this.  If you're going to perma-ban us, fine. Don't let some people off the hook with 72 hr bans for some bullshit arbitrary reason, if any reason at all."

Unlike CCP, Blizzard apparently builds up for big ban waves and doesn't just try to conduct daily bans.  Either that or the PQR bot is a big deal and Blizzard wanted to make a big statement.  However, letting a bot operate for months like this is not a good idea.  Perhaps this next one explains why.
Xelper (PQR dev) - "My huge concern is that many profiles used PQI, and PQI used CHAT_MSG_ADDON as a version check...

"Which means addon messages were communicated to the server, and sent to any listening clients on that addon channel. This is a HUGELY BAD IDEA, as it is essentially advertising to the WoW servers "I AM RUNNING THIS ADDON!" Blizzard logs everything they receive, and it is just a matter of them searching the logs for people advertising their version number on the channel."
So once Blizzard decided to check the logs, someone realized that collecting the information was, if not quick, relatively easy.  Another botter shared an experience with a Blizzard customer service rep that contradicts this theory.
xcuranddisease (72 hour suspension) - "Logging into wow I got a ACCOUNT TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED message. Went over and had Blizz call me back. She said that they have temporarily banned me due to 3rd party programs. I asked her to give me more info on it and to prove it, she said 'we were monitoring people for quite some time, some weren't aware that their addon was not to be used so we initiated a 72 hour ban and not a permanent ban in most cases' and I said 'What do you mean monitored?' and she said 'we can verify that we checked over 6 times that said application was ran simultaneously with world of warcraft, there is no shadow of a doubt, you were using 3rd party software'"
Of course, someone always makes the following suggestion...
Modernn (account closed) - "I made a faulty game issue ticket to get a call back and had a CS Supervisor available within 30 minutes. I was not able to get them to reverse the ban. I have a friend that is a GM who's recommendation was to say that someone else (Like your brother) was using the account. I was unsuccessful and will be opening tickets on the daily to try to get my account ban reversed. I urge everyone who's account was banned to do the same. If nothing else, Clog up the que's and make them spend some money on OT."
... but that doesn't seem a wise suggestion to follow for those who only received a 72 hour suspension.
icystealer (72 hour suspension) -  "I got a response from my ticket of appealing my suspension. GM refused to overturn it and I didnt care as I was in the last hours of the suspension.  HOWEVER shortly after receiving the response from the GM, I find my account is perma banned... WTF."

icystealer (account closed) - "That just seems like the GM was a hateful bastard. I guess its time to stop WoW for good."

JoeThePlumber (status unknown) - "appeal a 72h ban, is a huge risk to get it turned in a perm ban when you say the wrong thing or lie they got data on you!"
Some of my favorite comments are those who basically said, "I didn't want that account anyway."
azuro (account closed) - "botted on it for 2 months with PQR, my 6 year old account, with most titles and alot of achivements, worth quite alot of money, gone! and i couldn't be more happy, i never couldve mustered the courage to sell it, and ive never been able to quit, so this is the perfect scenario for me, and im relieved! so long gamers, hello social life"

JhonnyQ (account closed) - "Wrote a ticket, waiting for response. The good thing is, if you get banned, you realise that wow is a complete waste of time and somehow your happy to have to opportunity to quit. On the other hand, i want my account back, because i invested much time and money. letz see if i can get it back"

Arroin (account closed) - "Agree with you 100%. Just waiting for Blizz to reply on my ban as I am sure many others are also, and if they decide to not to reinstate my account then I'm done with them. Given them way to much money since I started playing in BC.."

Croctail (account closed) - "Finally a good reason to quit wow"

zexa1 (account closed) - "Well, after my calculations, I've spent exactly $1,964.98 on WoW throughout my five years of playing, game time and expansion sets included, and about a week ago I calculated my entire time spent. I have spent 363 days (8,712 hours) playing WoW. I believe my perma-ban was a very overdue sign to quit and find a new hobby. I am grateful, yet a bit disappointed in myself for having spent so much time and money only for it all to dissipate into the great abyss of the Internet. Fare thee well, World of Warcraft. It was (sorta) fun while it lasted."
Continuing on, what collection of botter comments is complete without the learned opinions that banning botters is financially stupid?
Yianis (assumed account closed) - "The only thing I am really glad that Blizz is losing more and more money."

proxximo1823 (account closed) - "blizz is so stupid its just money out of their pockets.dont think many people that get perma ban will go out and start from scratch again.  **** this game ...its dying anyway time to move on..waiting for wildstar"

Voar (account closed) - "11 90 level characters, most healers, 70% PvE 30% PvP

"I will probably quit WoW until the time comes when something close to PQR comes along, it was a good run I have to admit, funny thing is that blizz is going to take a HUGE hit on subs I believe

"Also my mother is quitting, the 9years old account isnt something that can easily be replaced.(She knew of the risks though...)"

Drinksbeer (account closed) - "I was permabanned as well, didn't arena, didn't raid anymore. PQR was the only thing keeping me in the game. But I did go on my daily FM radio show and spent (roughly) 3 hours flaming the crap out of them, I used to be a huge supporter, spent tons of money with them. Above all, this smells like a buyout move or some way to sluff off wow so that they can stop development of it and focus on bigger projects. There is no way that any publicly traded company (ATVI in the US and VIVI - parent company - worldwide) would purposely cut off that many customers. Reports are 500k in the US and 1 mil worldwide? That's millions of dollars gone in 1 shot, their stock would go in the shitter if this weren't some working move."

Yes, that last person really thinks that Vivendi still owns Activision/Blizzard.

But these types of entries were matched by those who saw the financial benefit of issuing a ban wave.
prettycooldude (account closed) - "Kind of silly to perma ban for this program in my opinion. Blizzard is going way overboard. But, they're betting 95%+ of you will eventually play again and they're probably right...

"If I play again, I'm going to avoid this site. Programs from here always get me ****ed. This bullshit the admins have going with directing you to amazon etc. for random page clicks is shady as **** also."

Sephiroth (owns a ban appeal business) - "I will have to say, something like this is a pretty bold move on their behalf, but they do have such a massive backing still, that it isn't an issue. That being said, I am sure account sales will also be up this month :P"

SheepReaper (status unknown) - "Lol not really. All the changes they made since mop came out, especially making leveling easier, made wow be more casual. It helped dissipate the turbo nerd stigma that it gained from all those news stories of the addicts ruining their lives. For a long time you had to turn your wow time into a part time job to progress anywhere. Now you can actually pick it up, play for a little while and then stop playing without feeling guilty about it. It really opened itself up to a much broader audience. They've gained many subscriptions is what I mean. Now they may lose many because of the banwave, but with WoD right around the bend, they're just going to gain them right back, not to mention the box sales at launch. Jeez, they're really making a killing. The ban wave will not hurt them one bit, gotta love the size of their cojones. And they can totally justify it with the ol' 'improving the experience of the other players' bit. .. there's always one butthole that exploits the exploit and uses it for pvp even though they know they risk exposure…"

Jaylock (72 hour suspension) - "The funny thing is that they did this massive ban wave AFTER the end of the year so they can report all the permanently banned accounts as subscriptions in their quarterly report conference call. Padding the numbers Blizz, like the greedy / devious people you are!"

Oliron (status unknown) - "don't forget the insta lvl 90... i think that's the main reason why they banned us all now. they'll launch the pre sale some time soon and with it the paid lvl 90 feature to suck us dry"
Now, one of the things that makes CCP different from Blizzard is the loss when an account is banned.  Not only is everything lost to the account's owner, but CCP tried to track down every account owned by the player an seize those also.  CCP also employs automatic processes that utilize digital fingerprinting technology to try to keep players from creating new account.  Blizzard?  Not so much.
starl1te (status unknown) - "you realize you didnt lose the pets, mounts and achievements, right? unless you want to quit.  just buy another wow and stick into that battlenet account."

evilshade1234 (account closed) - "only been using pqr since a few days ago (this is my first offense, and perma banned, lol great)

"I submitted an appeal few hours ago, if that doesn't work then I quit WoW for good. Why? No ****ing way I'm working my ass off to get to get top pve-gear ALL OVER again, especially with the weekly limit it will take a good while to get back where I was at. Not to mention, incredibly repetitive and boring.. No thanks."
Between these entries and all the entries stating that caught botters would not start again, I get the impression that a permanent ban isn't really permanent.

Last, but certainly not least, are the comments that indicate that the user doesn't realize that pushing the keys to cast spells and abilities is a key component of, you know, playing the game.
Aestysu (account closed) - "Are you mad that hundreds of thousands of people use this bot to play? and they play better than you do and your [sic] so angry about it, that you just HAD to make an account here to rage about it?"

evilshade1234 (account closed) - "The question of the day is: do you really want to play a game where you can't use tools to make life easier?  Now I can't imagine actually pressing buttons to cast skills, worrying about cc, keeping up on my DoTs timer, and then woops your dead because you weren't paying enough attention to the boss or w.e.  lol **** that. I want to play a game for fun, not a damn headache"
These are just some of the gems that stood out to me as I've read over 60 pages of forum posts.  I have included a hyperlink to each of the quotes in case someone is interested in checking to see if these posts really occurred or if I just have a really good imagination.  All I can say is that I wish I had an imagination this good.


  1. That last comment is just... wow. Pun unintended.

    On a side note, I'd like to think some people actually needed this to get out of the game... I want to believe!

  2. Nosy, whenever I feel down, reading the posts about anti-botting just makes me smile. Thanks for bringing this awesome anti-bot content!

  3. Always hated the "banwave" approach. It's basically a mechanism to generate press and buzz but completely ineffective as an agent of prevention.

  4. Actually their ban policy looks more complicated than it actually is, as it tries to cover any offense (e.g. invalid character names, too), not only botting. AFAIK, for botting it's simply 3 days or permanent, depending on the severity.

    In this case, as Blizz said somewhere else, but also a GM was quoted above "some weren't aware that their addon was not to be used so we initiated a 72 hour ban and not a permanent ban in most cases". In other words, they let PQR spread to wide before they acted, so the offenders got benefit of doubt.

    So you may assume that those who got permanent bans regardless, had it coming (either previous offenses, no matter what they claim. Or they overdid it, like botting 24/7).

    Same thing with those who got perma-banned after appealing: In my experience from similar support a lot of people manage to incriminate themselves during such calls. Or as JoeThePlumber said: "appeal a 72h ban, is a huge risk to get it turned in a perm ban when you say the wrong thing or lie they got data on you!"

    So those lose the benefit of doubt they had beforehand. And banning those is not being "a hateful bastard", but just being consistent and also deterring of appeals to rightful bans.

    But you are right, there is no hard and fast rule which offense gets what suspension. The GMs have leeway to account for your knowledge and intent (I think about a step up or down on the pyramid). Being the first to discover an exploit gets a milder punishment, than abusing it repeatedly, than being the 10001st who saw it on youtube and has to try it too.

  5. Botter tears don't come in a wide variety of flavors, do they? All are delicious--particularly those of the rules lawyers who demand that Blizz security reveal exactly how they were caught.

  6. Still shocked ppl play this shit game of wow lol. I love how they are all like im gonna quit after a ban like the dev cares THEY BANNED YOU. playing reality most of these scrubs are gonna rebuy the game and all the expansions great move on blizzards.part. Wow players are not very bright peer influenced sheep. I'd be surprised if the ppl rebuying isn't part if blizzs plan. I can't believe there is enuf demand for wow gold that bots can be profitable in a game where getting gold is so easy. This is why im ashamed to be an American most days. Just sad

  7. I guess this would be a good time to post something like this on relevant forums.....

    WTS battlenet account.

    2 x WoW accounts both MoP. Both inactive.
    neither account has ever been botted on nor sanctioned by Blizzard in any way.

    account 1 - vanilla T2 raider. 90 mage, 90 paladin, 90 warrior, 90 rogue, 90 hunter. all with LFR Garosh kills. legendary cloak on hunter. gear score between 510 and 550. 1.2 million gold. 2 personal guild vaults. one lvl 9 guild.

    account 2 - active since WotLK - 90 mage, 90 druid, 80ish dwarf priest(all other toons on both accounts are horde) inactive since hitting 90. 300k gold. alliance guild vault.

    all professions @ 600 - inscription with 100% of pre-5.4 and 90% of 5.4 MOP techniques. several dedicated bank alts with trade specific bags. inscription seller has 144 bag / 252 bank slots for example. massive stockpile of raw materials and saleable goods. 1500+ glyphs 1000+ enchant scrolls etc.

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  9. " do you really want to play a game where you can't use tools to make life easier? Now I can't imagine actually pressing buttons to cast skills,..."

    That one made me laugh. If he don't want to push the buttons of the game he could just go watch a movie. there he don't have to do something to get a story.

    Obviously those people haven't realized that difficulty is a major part of gaming and not a problem of the game.

  10. just goes to show you that WOW players for the most part would last all of 5 minutes in EVE

  11. All good things in their time... 06 11 2007 MMO Glider (r.i.p MDY) Ban Hammer fell and took 1m people with it. We all knew the rules, and the risks, and we got upset when we got lazy and forget not to use it on our main accounts, or log into an account with it running in the background and good old warden sniffs the air and knows you are standing in the poo. Use it or not, your foot prints are found at the scene of the crime, your guilty. Sucks...

    Good thing you get a free lvl 90 toon with pre purchase of WoD... Play Safe, Play Smart. see you in Azeroth

    "Don't do the crime, if you can't do the time" - Detective Anthony Vincenzo "Tony" Baretta -

    "you cheat, you get caught, you get a new account" - Flackman -

    sorry for your losses, but welcome to the family.

  12. Botting, third party what ever huh? Hackers. What if your flying around in the game mining nodes and then selling the ore at the AH? That's not botting as your manually doing it and it's not hacking cuss you never hacked anything in the game and the add-ons from is allowed by wow. So as your farming ore or anything else in one area to long your are labled as a bot? Come on, then if you sell anything at the AH your a bot hacker 3rd party what? You go checking your add-ons and uninstall them and still it's wrong? Why is that? How much is to much to sell at the auction house and or where you farm at 15 minutes or 30 minutes and anything over an hour is pointing a finger at you as a bot when your not a bot, not a hacker and not a third party, never bought any gold coins off of WOW, just doing your daily quests and farm ore, cloth, leather, jems, etc... .so why are you being banned? Others are not getting the matts cuss we over farm? Cuss we are level 90's and can can beat the daylites out of level 80 Guards and lower level toons that bother us and want us dead cuss we get a little to carried away farming. There there's all the other things I'm reading about PVP stuff being banned and I don
    t like pvping and don't want to be forced to do it against my will. So we who do everything WOW says is o.k. is now something your going to get banned for cuss you manually farm to long in one area and sell more than 5 items at the AH. Just those things gets you banned and that covers meny loyal players and never saw that coming. You think Your doing everything right and not get a ban for life but they don't care. You lost everything, gold coins you got from the AH is a thing to get banned for and that's why meny people are gone off the game. Sure we want justice, but what's it going to take to get your toons and alts and mail and bags and everything else back? Zero. Crying and having rage over it as you know far to well WOW is making money you can't ever get back for a few more pre-paid time left cuss your banned. This means they robbed your toons meny times over and you can't fight it cuss the way they set their rules, TOU and Lula stuff and your a bot when your never are cuss they don't know that a bot is vs. you manually farming and all AH selling seems like your instantly banned cuss you sold more than 5 items, and since it's account bound you might as well just sell one thing in the ah if you have 10 to 11 alts on one realm. I think account bound stuff will now be something you have to watch out for as well. Vender trashing is going to get you banned cuss you vender trashed more than 5 items, get real.

  13. ^ massive wall of text vomit I will not be reading.