I was reading that Blizzard Entertainment picked up an additional $89 million or so in a court case where they were suing Scapegaming. The award came last week and while it is obvious that Scapegaming was violating copyright the award is freaking crazy. So much so it is obvious Blizzard is sending a message to the rest of the game market. That message is stay out of our sandbox or we will destroy you. So what was Scapegaming doing to bring down the wrath of Stormwind? They ran a private World of Warcraft Server. So what the hell is that you ask? I did too.
A private server creates the World of Warcraft game environment without using any of the Blizzard servers. This mean you can play without paying a monthly fee, although at a slightly more limited capacity. The Battle.Net services would obviously be unavailable, as would server transfers and a few other perks. This is a clear violation of the End User Licensing Agreement (EULA) that any users agrees to when they purchase the software from Blizzard. It’s also theft, possibly misrepresentation and fraud depending how the server was marketed. Whatever it’s clearly wrong and illegal on some level.
You see the EULA you agreed to by clicking ok when you installed WoW clearly stated you would receiving service from Blizzard and that was the ONLY USE OF THE SOFTWARE. This isn’t a suggestion or rule, it’s a binding contact and everyone should have read it but no one did. This means you can build your toon with the best frost mage pvp guide (here is one at PVP Gamer) but you better play it on Bizzard's servers or they might be looking for you!
So Scapegaming is wrong on all levels, but are they $89 million wrong? To be fair that number includes the judgment as well as all legal fees, but are those damages reasonable? Blizzard says, “yes”. Scapegaming included within its server environment microtransactions that accounted for a lot of revenue. How much is open to debate but if it got on Blizzard’s enormous RADAR it was clearly significant. You see Blizzard intends of including micro-transactions in the near future and they don’t want anyone messing with their model. More about this model is available at "Internet service providers by zip code".
To be fair Blizzard was infringed upon and the private server needed to be shut down, but did it need to be bombed into the stone age? I keep coming back the $89 million. I can’t get past it. There is no way Scapegaming made, or Blizzard lost, anywhere near that amount. No way!
This will however serve as a message to other private servers. You better stop or your wages will be going to Blizzard for the rest of your life and beyond.