MMORPG World of Warcraft is still big business today, long after it was first released in 2004. Its massive popularity inspired Alyson Reeves to set up a private server hosting the game. As explained in the case’s transcript:
“Via the website scapegaming.com, an unauthorized web server that enables and encourages third parties to play Blizzard’s copyrighted World of Warcraft online computer game on the scapegaming server instead of Blizzard’s own authorised servers, thereby denying Blizzard subscription revenue for online play.”
Reeves, based in Savannah, Georgia, also offered microtransactions – meaning that players could pay to unlock experience points and items without having to grind for hours to obtain said items. The main legal argument was that Reeves (and all users of the server) had contravened the End User Licence Agreement, or EULA, which specifically prohibits copying and illegal distribution of its software.
Reeves did not appear in court, and Blizzard asked for a judgment in default. As Geek.com reported, the WoW developer received $88,594,539 in damages.
Private servers are a shady affair, and it looks as though Reeves played a hefty price. People operating these sorts of servers could potentially pass on your bank details to criminals -- and it’s certainly not a good idea to be making these sorts of transactions, as it’s unfair to the legitimate players who want to grind and play the game by the book.