Blizzard is no stranger to seeing people use their games for monetary gain. Even back when Diablo 2 was first released, you could peruse eBay listings for level 99 Hardcore characters being sold for thousands of dollars, and people did buy them. World of Warcraft has seen its share of people who do nothing but farm gold for hours at a time, in hopes of selling the virtual currency for a real world profit. Blizzard has finally put its money-encrusted foot down, and hit them where it hurts – their PayPal accounts.
Any player even remotely familiar with WoW has likely heard of ‘gold-farming,’ and while it may only warrant a scoff from most players before being dismissed as lunacy, people really do spend money on digital coins. Apparently, it’s become a large enough problem that Blizzard has gone straight to one of the largest leading online pay services, PayPal, and is attempting to prevent the gold farmers from using the service.
Not every single guilty party has been hit just yet, as Blizzard is starting at the top of the chain and working their way down. Blizzard defending the integrity of their property is nothing new, so those effected had to have seen this coming.
What happens when a gold farmer tries to peddle his wares through PayPal? They are accused of committing a Blizzard-filed intellectual property violation. The official notice reads:
“You were reported to PayPal as an Intellectual Properties violation by Blizzard Entertainment Inc. for the sale of World of Warcraft Merchandise.
“If you feel your sales do not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of the Reporting Party, please complete the attached Objection to Infringement Report by January 21, 2011.
“The completed form should be faxed to the attention of the Acceptable Use Policy Department at [number removed] or emailed to [email removed].
“Should you choose not to object to the report, you will be required to remove all World of Warcraft Merchandise from the website [url removed] in order to comply with the Acceptable Use Policy.”
For those who make a nice income through people choosing to buy their fake money with real money, this is certainly not good news. It is, however good news for everyone else who does not condone that activity in their gaming community. What would be interesting (read: funny) is if gold farmers actually take issue with the claims of Blizzard, and try to get out from under the charges to continue their illicit practices.
The farmers are undoubtedly in the minority, and with a community of over 12 million gamers, it’s hard to imagine even a million would take advantage of their own game community. Stranger things have happened though.
For the time being, at least, World of Warcraft players will need to earn money the hard way.