Tweet Private game servers are a controversial, often hushed topic in gaming circles. Some gamers enjoy the fee-free nature of private servers, while others use these forbidden realms to experience the MMO in a different state than the live game (for example, playing on a "classic" private server that doesn't allow for expansion packs). No matter what the reason, game companies tend to frown on such activities. Last week, Blizzard frowned at a particular private server and was awarded $88,000,000 for the effort.
In October 2009, Blizzard filed a suit against Alyson Reeves, owner of Scapegaming and a private World of Warcraft server. Reeves was making a profit from the enterprise, using microtransactions on the server. The judge ruled that this was indeed copyright infringement against Blizzard, and ordered Scapegaming to pay $85.5M in statutory damages, $3M in inappropriate profits, and $63,600 in attorney fees. Reeves may appeal the suit at this point.
As with the bnetd case, Blizzard is sending a clear message to people trying to mess with their code: don't. Scapegaming's Facebook page isn't exactly overflowing with support for the company, and we can imagine that many private server operators are thinking long and hard about whether the risk is worth it this week.