Recently it was discovered that by editing the name shown in the Battle.net shipping address you could actually change the name on that Battle.net account. (This was quickly patched) As Blizzard has always taken a hard stance in regards to account ownership and changing any part of that information you would have to wonder if this is intentional. Their terms of service are quite clear on account transferring:
B. Account. NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING TO THE CONTRARY HEREIN, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOU SHALL HAVE NO OWNERSHIP OR OTHER PROPERTY INTEREST IN THE ACCOUNT, AND YOU FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT ALL RIGHTS IN AND TO THE ACCOUNT ARE AND SHALL FOREVER BE OWNED BY AND INURE TO THE BENEFIT OF BLIZZARD. Blizzard does not recognize the transfer of Accounts. You may not purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, or offer to purchase, sell, gift, or trade any Account, and any such attempt shall be null and void and may result in the forfeiture of your Account.
Knowing the sometimes significant played time in a number of titles one can see why players would want to have the ability to transfer ownership of their account.
Players spend hundreds of hours if not days in some cases developing these characters over the course of years.
Not exactly the life span of an Xbox title which you are able to sell right back and buy another one when you are done playing it.
Instead of allowing the sale of accounts Blizzard has kept the stance that accounts are not able to be transferred to other players. Not having an official site for players to go to has led to a great deal of confusion however and increased the risk of account compromise.
Players have paid upwards of almost $10,000.00 USD for an account and websites such as the Game Supply have been in business for years finding characters new keyboard operators. Top raiding guilds routinely sell raid spots for outside members to pick up certain titles or achievements and a great many raiders in end game guilds have sold their characters. Recent studies have estimated that 1 in 4 MMO players will utilize a 3rd party service each year of play.
It would really be nice if at this point Blizzard would stop ignoring these issues. Not having an official place to trade currency or accounts has led to a plethora of fraudulent activities.
“Phishing” emails are commonplace and offer players items in game, beta invitations, free game time and other incentives to enter their account information-sometimes on very official looking sites. These emails are sent in such a manner as they look as if they are coming from Blizzard entertainment and many players have fallen victim to an innocent looking email. Of course there’s a new one in my inbox I can use as an example:
Subject: Return to Azeroth With Free 7 Days of Game Times
Received: from WWW-9763E06E580 ([220.127.116.11]) by BLU0-SMTP77.phx.gbl over TLS secured channel with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.4675);
Fri, 11 May 2012 02:51:54 -0700Warning: Suspected phishing site!The website at us.battle.net.bbattlle.net has been reported as a “phishing” site
Pricing information for change Battle.net name:
Price: $500 USD
Service Time: 3-4 weeks.
How to Order: Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use our Live Chat function.
In most cases these aren’t hardened criminals doing these things but simply players frustrated with the limitations placed by Blizzard on the ability to safely and securely transfer account ownership taking matters into their own hands.
Being young and inexperienced, and with no guidance from the Administrators of these sites who allow such activity to occur, they obviously make some bad decisions.
If that isn’t enough then there are also hundreds of websites set up to farm account information from players wishing to sell their MMO accounts such as: http://www.gamepal.com/content.php . These sites have to be one of the longest running scams on the internet.
We did a lot of digging and came to the conclusion that Gamepal and a lot of websites are owned by the same scammer. As a consequence, we are not encouraging you to buy from Gamepal at the present time. Moreover we are urging you to avoid them and related websites.
Here is the list of Gamepal malevolent websites:
looted(dot)com WarcraftLoot(dot)com gamewar(dot)com gametag(dot)com Toongo(dot)com
Mmotoons(dot)com Accountgear(dot)com Newbville(dot)com Characters(dot)net
Ffxiaccount(dot)com Belrionaccounts.com WoWtrades(dot)com Oloot(dot)com
Wowbuyaccount(dot)com Lotroaccounts(dot)com Accountmine(dot)com cityofheroesaccount(dot)com
everquest-account(dot)com warcraftloot(dot)net mmoan(dot)com accountsgear(dot)com
gamepal(dot)com accountup.com world-of-warcraft-account.com Character.net
- Take a photo of the account holder’s form of identification held near the account holder’s face (portrait from shoulders/neck up with ID in clear view, not being obstructed).
- Take a photo of the account holder’s form of identification held near a recently published daily-dated publication, such as a newspaper or magazine. The document needs to have been published within the last 7 days. (In this photo all ID details must be clearly visible.)
Maybe, instead of proof of life, a platform where players can list their Battle.net accounts for sale and other Battle.net users can bid/purchase them would work out to be a better solution-one that can be copied by other publishers to the benefit of all involved.
This is designed to be the first in a series of articles outlining some of the problems that have arisen due to the lack of regulation in this virtual economy and a look at how this can be avoided moving forward.