Banned 'Diablo 3' Linux users speak out against being called cheaters

A number of Linux users banned from Diablo 3 have spoken out on Blizzard's forum and to Polygon about how they were wrongly accused of cheating in the game.

A number of Linux users banned from Diablo 3 have spoken out on Blizzard's forum and to Polygon about how they were wrongly accused of cheating in the game.

The issue came to light last week on Blizzard's official forum when certain Linux users received permanent bans from Diablo 3 supposedly because they were using an operating system that is not supported by the game. Many players expressed their frustration about suddenly receiving bans when they believed they had done nothing wrong.

Blizzard's official response, which came from community manager Bashiok, clarified that players were not banned for using Linux; they were banned for using third party software that gave them an unfair advantage.

Bashiok wrote: "We've extensively tested for false positive situations, including replicating system setups for those who have posted claiming they were banned unfairly. We've not found any situations that could produce a false positive, have found that the circumstances for which they were banned were clear and accurate, and we are extremely confident in our findings. Playing the game on Linux, although not officially supported, will not get you banned – cheating will."

"Playing the game on Linux ... will not get you banned – cheating will."

The response angered some players who felt they were unfairly being accused of cheating. Among those players was Marcus Meng, a Linux user who said he was able to run a copy of Diablo 3 that he had purchased on his computer flawlessly for almost three weeks before receiving an email informing him his account had been permanently banned by Blizzard.

"The first sign that something was strange was receiving the banned email," Meng told Polygon. "I thought it was just one of the usual scams at first, so I didn't think much of it. I went home, tried to log in, and it said that my account was locked; checking on my battle.net account page showed the banned message."

The email was a generic notice of account closure that explained Meng was being banned for using third party unapproved software such as a cheat program (hacks) or an automated program (bots). The email said:

"A user of this account has recently been involved in actions deemed inappropriate for Diablo III by the In-Game Support staff of Blizzard Entertainment. This decision was made after a thorough investigation of the situation as a whole. Though we are unable to discuss the outcomes of our investigations due to privacy concerns, rest assured that this incident has been looked into very thoroughly, and the appropriate actions have been taken on all involved accounts.

"...Moving forward, this Diablo III account and any Heroes or items associated with the account are no longer accessible. The only way to continue playing Diablo III is to purchase a new license, or to attempt to recover access by appealing account closure. While closure overturns are very unlikely, we advise that customers pursuing an appeal hold off on purchasing a new Diablo III license until the appeal process has completed. If you add a new Diablo III license, a new account will overwrite your old, without any prior Heroes or items from the closed account."

Meng had been using a program called WINE, a program that allows the computer to run Windows programs and translate all of the operating system calls into their Linux equivalents, so that a Windows program can run on Linux. Meng says that while there are compatibility issues from time to time, he has been able to play other Blizzard games like Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft, as well as Call of Duty, RAGE, Jedi Academy, Guild Wars, EVE Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic flawlessly, without ever receiving ban notices.

The players Polygon spoke to were adamant that they had not used any programs to help them cheat in the game.

He contacted Blizzard but was informed that they do not field account queries over the phone, so he had to file a ticket. He received a response from Blizzard saying that they confirmed their initial findings and that the action taken against his account would not be reversed.

"Naturally, I was rather perplexed and annoyed at the response, as it contained no additional information, and really didn't help me in any way at all," Meng says. "So I filed a second ticket, asking for either clarification, or for a refund, which prompted the following:

"Unauthorized third party software was found to be being used on your account. Because this is a breach of the terms of service, we will not be providing a refund to you, and the license is permanently banned. As this issue has been reviewed by multiple representatives, it is now considered closed. Should you have any questions regarding a different account or issue, please feel free to contact us again. However, further inquiries regarding this issue will no longer receive a reply."

"Thus, they have cut out all avenues of communication that they have made available for this issue to me," Meng says. "I have no direct ability to contact Blizzard about this from here on."

The players Polygon spoke to were adamant that they had not used any programs to help them cheat in the game. They all reported that the game had run flawlessly on their Linux computers for weeks before they suddenly received bans and were accused of using unauthorized third party software to give themselves an unfair advantage in the game.

Meng says Bashiok's post in the Blizzard forums is frustrating and insulting to players who didn't do anything wrong.

"Simply applying a blanket label that we are both liars and cheaters is indescribably irritating."

"To be honest, I find it very condescending, ill-informed, and insulting," he says. "Any software engineer knows that claiming any such imprecise detection system to be infallible is the height of hubris. After all, the problem could be the result of an odd conjunction of factors that nobody would have thought to test for – after all, WINE is not officially supported by Blizzard, since it isn't, in fact, Windows! To claim that such issues are impossible is simply ridiculous.

"The insulting part was fairly simple – while I can understand that people may use excuses like this to attempt to hide their actual cheating, simply applying a blanket label that we are both liars and cheaters is, well, indescribably irritating."

At this point players who have received bans have little course for action. Over at Gaming Blend, writer William Usher has compiled a list of user dealings with Blizzard over the issue, all of which have arrived at the same conclusion. A Diablo 3 player named William has posted his entire correspondence with Blizzard over a similar matter, to no avail.

Polygon contacted Blizzard for comment and was referred to Bashiok's forum post, which can be viewed above.

Thanks William Usher!

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