Private World of Warcraft server owners may want to stop their illegal operations. Yesterday.
Don't mess with Blizzard, ever. Don't even entertain the idea. If you do, you could end up like private server company Scapegaming, which was running at least one private World of Warcraft server and has ended up being charged $88 million for it.
Private servers are unofficial portals through which to play MMOGs. Sometimes they're free, sometimes they're not, but they're just about always illegal when running a retail product. Scapegaming's World of Warcraft private server was reportedly using a microtransaction model that would allow players to purchase items.
Blizzard didn't like this very much, so it sued Scapegaming, aka Alyson Reeves. A judge laid down final judgment in the lawsuit last week, awarding Blizzard $88,594,539. Wow is right.
That's $3,052,339 in "disgorged profits", $85,478,600 in statutory damages, and a mere $63,600 in attorney's fees. The attorney's fees seem paltry next to the $85 million in statutory damages, anyway. To make matters worse, she also has to pay interest "at the rate provided by law until paid in full." Reeves may appeal the amount, but she's not going to get off easy no matter what she does.
It's hard enough to pay off a $10,000 car loan, so I can't imagine what it'd be like to have an $88 million dollar debt on your head. If Blizzard wanted to make an example out of Reeves for other private server owners, it's done that quite well. When it comes to copyright infringement and Blizzard, you don't want to be on the giant's radar. It will shut you down, crush your soul, crush your soul shards, and then sprinkle them on Bobby Kotick's ice cream cone.