If you’ve found yourself suddenly unable to play Diablo 2 or Warcraft 3 on, you may may one of the 320,000 users Blizzard has smacked in the face with the banhammer.

One thing you have to say about Blizzard: When they do things, they do them big. MMOGs. Cinematic cut scenes. Publicity campaigns for new games. And bans. Hell, this isn’t even a “ban,” it’s a massacre, a sweeping, Stalinesque purge of the ranks of users caught violating the Terms of Use in one way or another. And, much like those Soviet-era liquidations, there’s little hope for anyone caught in the net: Those sent to the Gulag on their first offense will be reintegrated into society after 30 days, while repeat offenders are gone for good.

“We would like all players to remember that abuse of unintended mechanics and/or use of third party programs is a violation of the agreement made when signing on to, and can subject your account to disciplinary action up to and including a permanent ban of its access to the service,” Blizzard Community Manager Micah “Bashiok” Whipple wrote in the Diablo 2 forum. “These types of activities can severely impact the stability of our servers, and we’ll continue to aggressively monitor in order to protect the service and its players from the harmful effects of cheating.”

Many of the bans were made as the result of tip-offs from “legitimate” users and Bashiok encouraged everyone to continue informing on their neighbors. “If you come across a hack, find a site responsible for distributing hacks, or have a replay of a newly available hack, please report this to our hacks team at [email protected] or through our Hacks Report Form,” he added.

This isn’t the first time Blizzard has lowered the boom on its users: In November 2008 the studio laid the smack down on more than 350,000 Diablo 2 and Starcraft users who were caught using third-party hacks on Apparently, some people just don’t learn.

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