Private servers for MMO’s have long been a sore spot for developers. Players enjoy them for a variety of reasons, be it because they either want to play by their own rules or simply don’t want to pay for the game. Clearly, not paying for the game rubs developers the wrong way. Not paying for the game and making a profit from it means the developer have a lawsuit on their hands. Which is exactly why Blizzard sued Alyson Reeves of “Scapegaming” last year. As a result, Blizzard is walking away from court with over $88 million in their pocket.
The California Central District Court ruled in Blizzard’s favor on Thursday last week, on the grounds of copyright infringement. The case was originally presented in court in October of 2009: Blizzard complained that not only was “Scapegaming” infringing on Blizzard’s World of Warcraft copyright (i.e. pirating), but they were running micro-transactions in-game as well, making a profit off of Blizzard’s product. The court ordered that Scapegaming pay $88.5 million in statutory damages, $3 million in inappropriate profits and $63,000 in attorney’s fees. Reeves can appeal the suit.
If the total reward seems a bit inflated, you’re probably right. Aside from the ridiculously high fines for commercial copyright infringement, it’s pretty clear Blizzard is making an example of Scapegaming to other private servers, as the offenders had pocketed only $3 million from micro-transactions. While sum of money is huge, the hat Alyson Reeves pulls the other $85 million from is unclear. Unless, of course, she pays with in-game gold, and she didn’t just take the money and split.