On Monday morning, Blizzard released a statement about a policy change in World of Warcraft that had fans interested. The developer is updating their policies in order to stop “organizations excessively advertising various non-traditional services in-game,” which includes boosting, matchmaking, and escrow.
This policy is aimed at large-scale organizations that operate these services across multiple realms, but fans worry it doesn’t go far enough. The statement reads:
As the conditions change by which various entities operate in World of Warcraft, we are compelled to update our policies to further our goal of making the gameplay experience as fair and welcoming as possible. Since we last updated our policies, we have found that an increasing disturbance of the gameplay experience has been caused by organizations excessively advertising various non-traditional services in-game.
As of today, we will now prohibit organizations who offer boosting, matchmaking, escrow, or other non-traditional services, including those offered for gold. World of Warcraft accounts found to be in violation of this policy are subject to account actions. These actions can include warnings, account suspensions and, if necessary, permanent closure of the disruptive World of Warcraft account(s). Organizations operating across multiple realms and excessively advertising non-traditional in-game sales are contrary to the terms and conditions of the Blizzard End-User License Agreement (EULA).
This policy update does not restrict individuals or guilds from using the provided in-game tools (“trade channel” chat) to buy or sell in-game items or activities for in-game currency. However, “boosting communities”, especially those who operate across multiple realms, are no longer permitted.
We urge all such organizations to cease doing business in World of Warcraft immediately, in order to maintain uninterrupted access to the game.
The term “boosting” covers an umbrella of services based around players having content automated for them; this can include leveling from 1-60, or going into the toughest content available in the game and walking out with fun achievements and the newest mounts.
Fans have already noted concerns about this statement — specifically, that it only goes after the biggest operations. Guilds and individuals can still use the trade chat to sell their services — like a paid run through the latest raid tier or access to the latest mount that drops off a rare boss. Indeed, this policy may funnel organizations into trade chat as a “safe zone” for these offers.
The difference between a guild and an organization is ill-defined; organizations often congregate in off-game platforms, such as Discord servers, where they can access a larger client base and freely advertise their services. Organizations often clog up the Group Finder feature with advertisements for boosted runs; this policy will likely clear that up.
This is a good first step, but it may not be enough for many World of Warcraft fans. There’s still a loophole that allows organizations to rebrand as “guilds,” but that may be addressed in future. Other fans are still grappling with the question of whether they can support Blizzard via World of Warcraft with the current legal troubles faced by the developers. Activision Blizzard is still embroiled in a lawsuit with the state of California over allegations of widespread sexual harassment.