Last week I covered a topic that is an immense rift in WoW fanhood, the private server; some people swear by it while some swear to see it permanently destroyed… most likely from the VD you get from it. My article last week touched on how illegal a private server can be… but exactly how illegal are we talking about here? Well, open your eyes wider and pay attention, you might be surprised.
Back in October of 2009 a private server by the name of Scapegaming thrived. Nearly two thousand users strong, this juggernaut was fueled by donations recieved from harcore players. I was a player on this server, and remember the takedown quite vividly. There was no fight, no incredible nuclear explosion overhead that everyone stared at in awe until it finally melted your bones into paste; just a white site with simple Times New Roman text that said “We are Shutdown”. Server gone, site gone, nothing was left.
The shutdown left players stunned weeks after the fact. Think about it like this: I alone have put about 800$ worth of time and effort into my WoW account over the years; how would you feel if all that just disappeared? You’d be lost. It would be like losing your home…well, maybe not so quite as bad as that, but both are investments. All that money and effort you put into your “life”, gone in the blink of an eye; and that’s what happened to these donators.
You may wonder how I could defend someone breaking the law. I have one reason: they were just playing a game they loved. None of these people thought that they were illegaly supporting a person that was basically stealing a game for her own profits, they thought: “SWEET! I donate and get awesome gear!”
But what did owner Alyson Reeves get for her crimes? Her company Scapegaming made an accumulative $3,053,339 in the server’s lifetime. Blizzard responded by taking every penny they had and then some; a whopping $85,478,600 in damages. Not to mention they had to pay back the money they made from the server. And just to add a final slap in the face, $63,600 in attorney’s fees.
Eighty-five million dollars in damages… how insane is that? What they did was wrong, yes, but how can you justify completely destroying someone’s life? As much as people say money doesn’t buy you happiness, it is necessary to live. But I can understand Blizzard’s motivation, more than one private server exists, and this was a warning shot to all of them.
Many private servers now are “legal” in a sense of the word and don’t even have an option for donations. They are mostly completely redesigned so they don’t violate the EULA (End User License Agreement) for WoW. Private servers are not nearly as fun as they were back then, and Blizzard wants to keep it that way so this doesn’t happen again.
In conclusion, playing a private server can be dangerous for a multitude of reasons… and owning a private server even more so. I want this to be a three part article, wrapping up with an interview with a current owner of a private server to see what they deal with, how they deal with Blizzard and what they do to avoid an 83 million dollar lawsuit. Thank you for reading. Until next time, I’ll be keeping your games fun one bankrupt person at a time.