Cheating has always been a major issue in multiplayer gaming. Whether it's aimbots in Counter-Strike 1.6 or wallhacks in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, every gamer has experienced a situation where cheaters and hackers ruin a game for everyone playing online.
But Blizzard is about to make a major pushback against cheats. Blizzard is suing for $8,563,600 in damages against the German cheats company Bossland.
Back in 2016, Blizzard filed a complaint with a California federal court, alleging that Bossland was engaging in copyright infringement, unfair competition, and creating software that enabled anti-circumvention: which violates the DMCA's rules on the matter. Blizzard alleges that Bossland's cheat services have effectively robbed Blizzard of millions in sales.
After Bossland failed to reply to the court, Blizzard filed a motion for default judgment. With 42,818 infringements piling up for Bossland, and a minimum amount of $200 required for each infringement, Bossland would owe Blizzard a lot of money.
"Bossland is an archetypal bad actor," the brief claims in its introduction. "The products at issue in this case have only one purpose -- to allow Bossland’s customers to cheat in Blizzard’s games -- to the detriment of Blizzard and its player base, and to the massive financial benefit of Bossland and its employees."
Blizzard alleges that Bossland "has made millions of dollars from this business, knowing that its products harm Blizzard," going so far as to say that Bossland's principal "bragged online that Blizzard could not sue it in the United States because... courts in the United States lack personal jurisdiction over Bossland." The case file suggests that Bossland has chosen to default because a default judgment may be "difficult to enforce in Germany."
Either way, Blizzard seems driven to receive their $8.5 million from Bossland. And they're hoping the court can ultimately get the German hacking company to cough the money up.
What This Means For Gaming
Even though cheats are considered a staple nuisance in the gaming world, Blizzard might be able to use the courts to push down on the cheating industry. For companies like Bossland, who sell their cheat software to users, Blizzard's brief could create a legal precedent where entities that are commercially creating hacks, cheats, and circumvention software are brought to the courts and fined. The game development company may be able to setup a precedent that brings foreign defendants under US jurisdiction for the crimes, too.
Blizzard is also putting forward a legal precedent that brings stronger protections forward in support of developers' and publishers' copyright infringement claims, too. By bringing DMCA violations to the court and enforcing the anti-circumvention provision, Blizzard is sending a warning to other hackers and cheaters: don't develop hacking software for our video game, and you won't be brought to court. Bossland may be in Germany, but the message is pretty clear for cheaters living in the US.
Of course, Bossland and Blizzard have been fighting this issue out for a long time now. And it's hard to say whether Bossland will be forced to pay copyright infringement fines, or if they will find a way to avoid a court ruling in support of Blizzard altogether. But creating cheats for a video game certainly does make Bossland into an "archetypal bad actor" in most gamers' books. Let's hope the court agrees.
Do you think Bossland should pay $8.5 million in damages to Blizzard? Share your thoughts in the comments below.