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When I wrote this article for Technology Review, I sent a request for comment to Blizzard Entertainment, but the company was unable to get me the answers until earlier today. Since the game maker’s responses are interesting, I have included them here.

Will Blizzard comment on their policy about in-game helpers/bots?

Any “bot” or in-game helper designed to play World of Warcraft automatically with little or no player input is strictly forbidden. We take violations of this policy very seriously and have consistently worked to identify the use of bots in game and suspend or close the associated accounts.

Does Blizzard consider this sort of research/activity to be against the EULA? If so, what parts?

We consider such automated play to be cheating because it goes against the spirit of the game and provides unfair advantages over other players. We have expressly forbidden the use of bots in the World of Warcraft Terms of Use (ToU), which all players are required to agree to before playing, because of this.

The programmers have called for Blizzard to offer third-party developers a separate set of servers to allow them to program their bots. From a technology perspective, WoW could give such researchers a good environment in which to advance AI programming. Is Blizzard considering such a move?

No, we definitely don’t intend to offer separate realms for the development of bots, automated software, in-game helpers, or any other tools that violate our Terms of Use. World of Warcraft is intended to offer a high-quality entertainment environment for players, not a lab for AI researchers, and as such, we will continue to make decisions to protect the player experience over other concerns. We remain vigilant in defending our games against cheaters and unauthorized third-party hack programs, and to that end, we will continue to take any measure necessary to protect our games and our intellectual property rights.

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Tagged: Computing, hackers, World of Warcraft, multiplayer online games

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