Blizzard, a company notable for going after online cheaters and pirates in its blockbuster PC titles Diablo II
and Warcraft 3
, is tackling another sore point for Internet-focused games developers: offline trading of items for real-world money. An email sent out to users of PC MMO World of Warcraft
Although not unprecedented (other MMOs, including EverQuest
, have cracked down on item/money reselling in the past), "any and all actions" involves some fairly strict penalties: both the characters and accounts of offending sellers will be deleted, and Blizzard may go so far as to take legal action against the vendors. Buyers get off with a lighter sentence but still not unscathed: the items they purchased will be deleted, and there's the possibility that their accounts will be suspended as well.
Offline retailers of MMO items and accounts have gone to surprising lengths before to make their profits, including hiring a team of unskilled Mexican laborers
in Tijuana to grind levels all day. In light of such unsavory practices offline, it's perhaps understandable why Blizzard is pursuing offline item retailers as vigorously as they are, although many users maintain that they should be able to resell items they gained through hard virtual work.