Blizzard has a years-long history of going after the developers of tools that allow cheating or exploits in their games. And according to a filing in the US state of California, the developer behind the “Buddy” system of botting tools is their next target. James Enright and a group of unnamed defendants develop and sell a variety of automation tools for various MMORPG and other multiplayer titles.
Blizzard is suing the alleged parties for millions of dollars in damages on the grounds of copyright infringement, breach of contract and interference with contractual relations. They argue that the bot makers are increasing the loss of player interest in their games through their software and costing Blizzard millions of dollars in revenue.
Of those tools, three are targeted at users of Blizzard games. Honorbuddy, Demonbuddy and Stormbuddy target WoW, Diablo 3 and Heroes of the Storm respectively. The tools in question allow users to carry out various tasks in the game on auto-pilot and grant the user the ability to play the game with little to no user input. In addition to the obvious ability to multiply the user’s effectiveness in a given game, these tools are also often used to farm in-game currency or items and level characters; all to be eventually sold on the RMT market. A claim that has seen verification via academic research. It’s easy to see why the unfair advantage that “botting” allows is prohibited by the EULA (End User License Agreement) of games like World of Warcraft.
“The Bots created by Enright and his team have caused, and are continuing to cause, massive harm to Blizzard. Blizzard’s business depends upon its games being enjoyable and balanced for players of all skill levels,” the complaint (pdf) reads.
“The Bots that Enright has programmed and helps distribute destroy the integrity of the Blizzard Games, alienating and frustrating legitimate players, and diverting revenue from Blizzard to Defendants,”
This might seem like a forgone conclusion to a passive observer. But the reality is that Blizzard is fighting an uphill battle. This isn’t the first time they have gone after bot makers with copyright or other legal claims and had issues achieving their desired outcome. In 2010, Blizzard went after the makers of another popular botting tool “WoW Glider”. That case saw Blizzard spending years in and out of court trying to argue that breaching the EULA constituted a violation of copyright. A court decision ruled that while the botting software was a breach of the binding contract represented by the EULA, it did not violate copyright as the bot was an original work.
But that isn’t all. Communication between Torrentfreak and Zwetan Letschew – CEO of Bossland GmbH – a German company, adds another twist. Said communication alleges that Enright is in no way connected to the creation or sale of the botting software being targeted. The Buddy bots are actually owned and distributed by Bossland GmbH.
“Apoc is neither the owner nor the creator of Honorbuddy, Demonbuddy and Stormbuddy. The trademarks belong to Bossland GmbH, the software belongs to Bossland GmbH, a German company created by two shareholders in 2009.”
“Apoc is not a shareholder or a decision giver at Bossland GmbH, Apoc is not even an employee of Bossland GmbH.”
“I find it funny, no not even funny, but ridiculous for a company of this size, to go after and mention publicly people, that are at best random freelancers, keeping in mind that they sued the creator of the software in question in Germany.”