Blizzard responds to Swifty ban incident

Mathew McCurley
M. McCurley|07.19.11

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Blizzard responds to Swifty ban incident
As you might have heard, Razer WoW gamer Swifty, along with numerous other players, were banned due to server disruption violations during one of Swifty's live streams that crashed a server. While Swifty acknowledged that he never intended to crash the server, Bashiok responded to the bans by stating that even if no one intended to crash servers or disrupt gameplay, the emote spamming and influx of players brought down many servers.

Swifty livestreams events with his guild on occasion and even hosts parts of the stream himself. Being the WoW gamer celebrity that he is, his stream attracts a good number of viewers. His own YouTube video response to his ban acknowledges between 4,000 and 5,000 people were watching his livestream. People flocked to the server, and the disruptions began. A number of players, including Swifty, were banned. Over the course of the day, Blizzard reviewed the information and decided to unban Swifty.

Bashiok comments on Swifty ban
We recently monitored a situation where a large number of players intentionally disrupted access to multiple realms by gathering together and mass-spamming game emotes. In some cases, individual players spammed an emote upwards of 30,000 times.

As a result, some accounts found to be active participants in this activity were permanently banned. Upon further review, we have made the determination to reduce some of these permanent bans to temporary suspensions. We're currently in the process of identifying all offenders who acted to purposefully disrupt game service and will administer proper action to each participating account.

We're dedicated to providing a fun, stable, reliable gameplay environment for our players. While an exception was made in this case, accountholders who intentionally participate in events that contribute to realm instability will be subject to significant account actions, up to and including a permanent vacation from the game.

Please keep discussions related to this action within this thread. Related discussions outside of this thread will be locked, deleted, and/or fed to Murlocs.

Have fun and please remember to play responsibly.

Even as the internet erupted in a torrent of "Unban Swifty" posts, supported by Swifty's own YouTube video comment on the situation, Blizzard's wheels were already turning to get Swifty and some other players unbanned. Many players were still left with their bans, however; Bashiok assured the community that the bans that were not overturned were justified.

Bashiok responds to Swifty ban
None at all. We took appropriate measures to review existing suspensions and address them appropriately, and as stated in the original message, anyone found to be involved with intentionally disrupting the service will be receiving the appropriate action taken against them.

I think there are situations where people are very loud about something, they happen to be right, and we address those situations appropriately. But one doesn't influence the other. We're more than willing to make unpopular decisions if they're the right ones to make.

To further clarify, Bashiok posted a final "we've reviewed the evidence" statement. He wanted to make it clear that Blizzard had looked at the evidence, realized it had made a mistake, and corrected the Swifty ban. It was not an "exception" -- a word that suggests Swifty was "in the wrong" for what he did.

Bashiok comments on Swifty unbanning
It looks like there's some confusion regarding our original message -- in large part due to some poor word choice.

Just to clarify, the decision to change some of the bans to suspensions was actually a correction, not an exception. We reviewed the activity and felt that based on the evidence, the original decision to roll out the ban hammer was incorrect, and the appropriate action, for those bans that were undone, would have been to issue a suspension.

The key words are "based on the evidence," not "based on the activity." The activity of intentionally trying to crash a realm is exceptionally ban-worthy, and we won't hesitate to permanently ban accounts that are involved in that kind of malicious behavior. However, we tend to base the degree of disciplinary action on the evidence we have indicating to what degree the account in question is involved. That was not done for some of the accounts that initially received a full ban, so we corrected the initial mistake and reduced the ban for those accounts to a suspension.

For those concerned with this particular issue, I hope this clarifies things somewhat. I've edited the original post to hopefully avoid similar confusion moving forward.

We took our time putting out this story because, frankly, we wanted to see where it would go. It is quite clear from Swifty's history with World of Warcraft that he wouldn't have wanted to intentionally cause mayhem (on the scale that happened, anyway) and that his intentions were pure, if unknowingly misguided. To be fair, Black War Bear runs can crash servers, and it is a common understanding that orchestrating server crash events is a definite no-no in Blizzard's eyes.

The Swifty controversy, if you can call it that, is an exercise in the temperament of community reaction. I like Swifty because he brings a fun angle to the game I play. I like Blizzard because, well, it has the keys to the castle. When events like Swifty's livestream debacle happen, we can and should expect the people in charge to look at the facts. Blizzard was already in the process of unbanning and making decisions before Razer asked Blizzard what was going on. When Blizzard realized that Swifty's streaming event was not malicious, it rectified the ban.

If people are wondering why "non-celebrity" WoW players kept their bans, look at the facts -- people spammed emotes and actually tried to and succeeded in causing server disruptions. It seems that Swifty, while at the center of the controversy, didn't do anything wrong.

The news is already rolling out for the upcoming WoW Patch 4.2! Preview the new Firelands raid, marvel at the new legendary staff, and get the inside scoop on new quest hubs -- plus new tier 12 armor!

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