Players have been making bank off of World of Warcraft since the early days of gold farmers, but the process has been refined significantly as the game has matured. One of the latest schemes for those looking to turn their World of Warcraft prowess into some cash has been dungeon boosting, a process that sees a high-level player guide a lower-level one through some of the game's toughest dungeons for cash. While Blizzard has, up until this point, allowed the process to continue without penalty, the developer announced yesterday that it would be banning a number of players who had ties to the practice.
Blizzard's new bans will chiefly affect a number of players in top raiding guilds, with the intent to deliver a message to those engaging in dungeon boosting by targeting some of the most well-known practitioners on each server. Community manager Bret "Ornyx" Forbus wrote a forum post to explain further:
"We've recently taken action against a number of accounts that were actively participating in and/or advertising the sale of in-game raid or dungeon clears in exchange for real world currency...of the players affected, many were members of top raiding guilds."
Blizzard has garnered a reputation for being heavy-handed when it comes to punishing players that go against the developer's Terms of Service, and this move is no different. Now that World of Warcraft is experiencing something of a renaissance, the value of a high-level raiding account is immense. The top-level players affected by this ban will likely lose thousands of hours worth of playtime with the banning of their characters.
Blizzard expanded on its comments about the bannings with another statement from global community engagement manager Josh "Lore" Allen, who said:
"These [bannings] are meant to serve as a warning to all players who participate in such activities, as we intend for future actions to be much more comprehensive, and the punishments more severe."
It's hard to imagine a punishment that much more severe than losing a top-level raid character in World of Warcraft - Blizzard could likely ban an offending players' entire Blizzard service at that point, given how much time goes in to maintaining a character like that. Still, now that Blizzard is letting players exchange World of Warcraft tokens for Battle.net currency, it's possible the company wants to crack down on some of World of Warcraft's Terms of Service violations now to ensure the community knows there is zero tolerance for any such actions.
The World of Warcraft community will likely see this as a win, but it is possible there could be some long-term repercussions from this action. Targeting high-level guilds and their members is always a dangerous course of action, and those raiders might not think the punishment is fair since the practice has existed for quite some time now.
World of Warcraft is available now for PC and Mac.