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Booted From World of Warcraft

Sara Goo

Last night I got an automated e-mail from Blizzard Entertainment, the maker of World of Warcraft. My "WoW" account has been put on a 3-day suspension.

As I wrote about for Sunday's paper (and talked about in this video), I recently paid a "power leveling" service a few bucks to play the game for me for a while and build up my game character. This, of course, is against the game company's rules --and so, Blizzard sent notice that they're shutting the account down for 72 hours.

Here's the charge: "After a thorough investigation, we have found that the registered user of the account has shared account login information and allowed others to access the account."

I'll probably never know if Blizzard's tech people figured out that workers for the online "power level" company IGE I hired had been using the account--or if somebody over there just read the column.

The response to the story, over at my e-mail inbox, was much more friendly than what I was bracing myself for. I expected some cranky mail from serious WoW fans, but mostly I got advice about how to get more enjoyment out of the game or opinions about the practice of "power leveling." I was also half-expecting that I might get e-mail from other folks who, like me, found the game to be a bit too much of a grind to hold their interest. Didn't get any of those either, so maybe it's just me.

Anyway, I tried to log in to that WoW account this morning to confirm that the account for my character "Johnmullet" was on ice. But I couldn't--it turns out the entire realm of Azeroth is down this morning for scheduled maintenance.

By Mike Musgrove  |  April 3, 2007; 10:52 AM ET  | Category:  Mike Musgrove
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Comments

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Change of IP address did you in :). TRACERT FTW.

Posted by: Jim | April 3, 2007 12:39 PM

Im surprised that only a 72 hour shut-down was all that happened. I know somone that paid over 140 dollars for a leveling service ..it leveled him to 40 and then his account got banned forever...so lost that account with WoW and the money to the service

Posted by: Tim Marquess | April 3, 2007 12:58 PM

I hope not! I change IP addresses regularly as I play on the road. Maybe my hopelessly plodding path to 61 gets me off the hook.

Remember the heroics of the South Park crowd in power-leveling to 60 to save Azeroth for us all.

It must be a combination of powerleveling and IP, though IP spoofing should be trivial for a power-leveling company.

Posted by: morganja | April 3, 2007 2:04 PM

Chances are, IGE the company you paid for the levelling service, was using an automated "bot". This means, your character would move in a predicted pattern, stop to rest if need be, and continue.

Most likely, the bot was reported by another player, which in turn was then closed down by Blizzard.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 3, 2007 2:11 PM

I'm actually not sure how I feel about levelling services -- even with bots, but I _hate_ the farmers who skim the resources out of areas where I'm trying to level a profession!

Posted by: Dick Wexelblat | April 3, 2007 2:20 PM

I find gameplay similar at every level, the game is not much more fun at upper than lower levels. Therefore, I don't see the point of power leveling; unless one wants to quickly catch up w/ some online friends.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 3, 2007 3:01 PM

Like most MMORPGs, WoW experience varies a lot depending on who you play with. I can't imagine how boring the game would be without a social network.

I can definately see the appeal of a leveling service given the appeal of the expansion content, but if you don't have any friends to play with at the level you've gotten to, you've just paid out money to end up higher level with the same problem.

Also, agreed that Blizard probably caught you because IGN used some sort of bot to level you and you were reported by another player.

Posted by: David S | April 3, 2007 4:46 PM

Your lucky, i used IGE to power lvl a shamen a few months ago. Poor uttercup got to lvl 59 and they banned the account. Your lucky you only got a 3 day warning.

Posted by: cwl | April 3, 2007 6:24 PM

whoa. NOBODY told you that they find WoW and other such games BORING? I do! I do! My little brother and my cousin both find these games addictive. I find them both boring (what's the POINT?) and overwhelming--too much to do, too much space to explore, too many weapons to get. Sheesh.

Posted by: Abby Finkelman | April 3, 2007 9:58 PM

They noticed your account being logged into from IGEs IP ranges. Also, buying gold = perma ban, I believe. They keep a record of all in-game mail transactions.

Posted by: Loki | April 4, 2007 7:17 AM

WoW is dead, dude. Second Life is where it's at.

Blizzard has destroyed its fun by being too greedy.

Posted by: PW | April 4, 2007 9:26 AM

I've just talked to one of my WoW friends. He could have done the same job for less time and less money :) On the other hand that is really the question of...maybe personality. What to say I'm still playing Star Craft first Blizzard real time strategy. WoW is definitively more than boring in certain parts, but we have to admit that is a huge step forward in gaming industry. As it is for you don't worry I'm a lawyer and I'll stand on your side for free. It's your basic human right to use the power leveling services :) All the best hope to do some warfare in the virtual world.

Posted by: Teodor | April 4, 2007 9:27 AM

I have two problems with power leveling services. First, widespread use of bots destroys the social interaction. Imagine how fun it would be playing Second Life if most of the other avatars were moving on a robotic program. Second, (and even if bots aren't used) your avatar is suddenly 20 levels (or whatever) higher but YOU are still at the lower skill and knowledge level. Imagine being put in suspended animation at 10 years old while a proxy finishes out middle school, high school, and college for you. You are then awakened and handed a college degree and expected to know what to do. Yes, you missed all the drudgery of school but you also missed all the fun, life experiences, knowledge, and attainment of survival skills. For me, WoW has the social interaction of Second Life but instead of chatting at a coffee house (boring!) you're chatting while exploring a surreal landscape and fighting for your life.

Posted by: cfegpse | April 4, 2007 10:14 AM

Serves you right. I wouldn't want to raid with a level 70 nub that doesn't know how to play his character. Why do you pay for a game account and pay other people to play for you? If you are that bad at the game let me suggest that perhaps Connect Four might be more up your alley.

Posted by: Eulag | April 4, 2007 12:37 PM

"WoW is dead, dude. Second Life is where it's at." "Blizzard has destroyed its fun by being too greedy." Posted by PW

Did you skip your meds again? Second life just had a press release saying they would start to offer customizable *NAMES* for a flat fee of around $50-100 and a yearly fee on top of that!!! If you're looking for a online world governed by greed, you've found the right one, dude. What a f***ing joke, if you're spending your time playing "second life" chances are that you haven't got much of a "first life" AKA reality. PLZ go out there and meet some people who you can relate with in REALITY before you die a very very lonely old man. Theres still plenty of love left in this world, and plenty of adventures yet to be faced beyond.

:)

Posted by: devnull | April 5, 2007 5:07 AM

Now I don't play WoW, but I play FFXI. And there I have a 75 that I got up there myself, and its a beastmaster job(solo 1-75). But often I PLvl my friends or my linkshell a couple levels at lower jobs from like 10-15. i don't charge, but Square Enix is just as picky with the botters and as Blizzard, they ban the use of bots, gillsellars and gillbuyers. People are getting more creative with bots now, and now they have bots that only move to claim a monster, fishing bots, farming bots, etc. But Mike was just doing a survey on how long it would take I guess, so no slamming him. If i want my person plvled, i have a friend play a mage job and assist, never let someone do it for me, plvlin inside of game is allowed.

Posted by: Toneto2722 | April 5, 2007 10:52 AM

Thanks Toneto2722. Yeah, I was just curious to see if I liked WoW any more with a few more levels under my character's belt, because I never caught the addiction before.

On the one hand, I did like the game a *little* more having used a plevel service to skip some grind so that I could play with some friends and be closer to their level. Otoh, I still don't get why people love it so much. A WoW habit is probably the last thing I need anyway, but I'll probably try it again sometime... if Blizzard hasn't banned me for good!

Posted by: Musgrove | April 5, 2007 11:22 AM

-Game Reviewer, FAQ writer-

I am 18 and spent years in games, reviewing, meetings developers, talking and even public speaking and television speaking about Games, in particular MMORPGS.

I would not say people get addicted to MMORPG's or in this case 'WoW' however I think people get stuck there. If not for the game play itself but for status, importance, friends, escape, achievement. However many in the games find themselves without a true 'need' to be there.

I have been through many games in my short life already. Starting from DarkAge of Camelot, WoW, Second Life, Everquest, Guild Wars, Runescape. All of which there came a time when I felt I no longer had a place or a need to be there. Second Life being the last game I left after 3 years, after finding that many of my friends had moved on and there was just no real need to be there anymore.

People play MMO's for many reasons, but I would have to say the biggest attraction is socially.

One thing that tends to bug me is this idea that-

"those people that play games must have no life or must be geeks"

I do think the age of the typical, geek, nerdy gamer is very much long gone. People game for not just enjoyment but an escape as mentioned earlier.

However as I have gone way off topic I would love to point out that all games have a time when they have changed and evolved far to much that you start to miss the old days. Games such as Second Life, Runescape, Guild Wars all get things added, all get things changed. It is then that many of those WoW-addicts find themselves moving on. Just like in the offline world people get older sit down and talk about the good old days, video games before MMORPGS were the one place where time never truly effected them, if things got to bad you just reset, in an MMORPG time is a constant. If WoW is an addiction- it will always be a temporary one.

Happy Gaming Mike - Glad to see the developers cared enough to take action, if they did not after such a statement- what message would that be sending to the gamers!

-Sage

Posted by: Sage | April 7, 2007 8:10 AM

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