Blizzard Wins Lawsuit Against World of Warcraft Private Server

"I was just keepin' the seat warm for ya, Mr. Morhaime, I swear!"

Apparently, crime does pay — that is, until you get caught! Private servers in-and-of-themselves aren’t a pox on the gaming community. For instance, they’ve been used by die-hard fans of certain titles to continue playing online long after official servers have been shut down. But that changes when you’re jacking users from a still-active, and very popular MMORPG.

Such was the idea of one Alyson Reeves, who operated her server under the name of Scape Gaming. There are plenty of private servers out there, so you might be wondering why Reeves was singled out by Blizzard? Well, not only was she allowing her users to circumvent the customary subscription fee normally required to play the game, but she was charging them money for effortless level-ups and rare items, all under the guise of “donations.” According to data obtained through PayPal, this makeshift cash shop earned Reeves at least $3,052,339 in revenue.

Blizzard submitted perhaps an even more interesting number into evidence: the 427,000 players who were members of the Scape Gaming community at its peak in June 2008. Reeves, herself, had apparently admitted (via an alias) that about 40,000 people logged into her server on a daily basis. Now those people will never get their “donations” back (and they shouldn’t), while Reeves has been told to pony up a cool $88 million+ in damages. That’s the roughly $3 million in revenue combined with an extra $200 for each of the 427k players cited above.

With that amount of money at stake, you can see why Blizzard made their move, but it brings up another interesting question: could private servers be where World of Warcraft‘s phantom population has migrated? They haven’t posted a “milestone subscriber base” in quite some time and, while exact numbers aren’t made public, maintaining what they currently have seems to be an endless struggle. Sure, there are plenty of people who are simply tired of the game, been the victims of hackers, or have stopped playing because they don’t enjoy where it seems to be headed, but just from one prominent private server, we’re looking at what edges on nearly half-a-million users that can’t be used in an official tally. If Blizzard managed to shut all of these operations down, who knows how many more they’d find?

Of course, if they were playing on private servers, there’s no guarantee that they would’ve bothered paying a subscription fee, anyway. And with Cataclysm on the horizon, might we actually see more private servers pop up, allowing nostalgic WoW fans a chance to play around in the old world once more?


  1. no no, those are only filled with people who can’t let go of the past. They migrate there for awhile, level, get bored, and realize there past wasn’t as good as the present. You know you’ve picked up a console game from the store thinking it was awesome as a child, only to realize your expectation’s weren’t met.

    That said, a bunch of absolute freaking idiots were dumb enough to Pay for item’s and level’s?

    I actually grew some (some) respect for Blizzard now. They coulda jumped on that band wagon year’s ago and this proves people would be stupid enough too follow.

  2. Oh, believe me. I don’t think it would last very long. But I still wouldn’t be surprised to see “nostalgia” servers pop up, especially since there are plenty of misguided people already asking for an official one.

  3. I have nothing against private servers themselves, never been on one myself, but when you start finding ways to profit from it, thats when its time to pull the plug.

  4. Oh yeah, they stop charging monthly fee’s ages ago and now hand out every xpac in a paper bag.

    What’s that? You payed over 50 bucks for SC2? Don’t you know they were tossing free ones off there rooftop’s made of pure gold?

  5. I see your point Carlos, but it much easier to say someone other than yourself doesn’t need the money.

  6. Everyone is always saying that Blizzard is out just for our money, or something about money and Blizzard being “Big Brother”.

    Blizzard Entertainment is a video game developing company. Of course they care about money and business. Otherwise they would go bankrupt and have to close. They have taxes to pay, and fees to pay for upkeep of servers. Not to mention the 3,000-10,000 employees they have to pay, and give benefits for.

    I’m glad they cracked down on her, because I’m 100% against private servers. It’s stealing. You’re taking the client of someone else work and messing around where and how they do not allow, nor want you to. We are paying for our privilege to play with their product.

    That’s my point of view, anyway.

  7. I have to agree 100% with Mordril on this one. Private servers are nothing more than stealing. Period. End of list.

    Essentially, all you’re doing in running a private server is hacking someone else’s trademarked if not intellectual property. When you decide to then profit off of it, you’ve crossed more than one major line.

  8. I can see why private servers pop up. not everyone has 160 or more a year to play a game online. i see no problem with private servers keeping the game the same just allowing free game-play but when the owner of the server starts to profit then that is crossing the line. Amidaman 50 cents a day sounds cheap but 50 to 60 dollars for 6 months of play for just one game is to expensive. look at xbox live you get a year full of gameplay for 50 bucks. idk about everyone else out their but im not paying 15 dollars a month for a game if i could play it for free and blizzard is still making money off the game and expansion sells. if your gonna have that big of a price them make expansions free at least. i could understand a small 5 dollar monthly fee that affordable. and what WOW had like 10 million plays that would still make like 600million dollars a year for blizzard.

  9. @Cyberman

    Private servers are a slippery slope. As you say, why would you pay $15 each month for a game you could play for free. If everyone thought that way, then Blizzard would receive no monthly revenue, and thus not continue to play the game. Don’t get me wrong, Blizz makes a healthy profit (they have to, they’re a business), but a significant portion of that does go to maintaining the servers and support staff needed to run the game. Why not lower it since they have so many subs? Well, the more people that are playing, the more people Blizzard needs to hire (and pay) to keep the game running as smoothly as possible.

    I can see how you might not find value in World of Warcraft, or any MMO, if you rarely play it. But if you’re spending tens, if not hundreds of hours, each month doing so, then you are more than getting your money’s worth in comparison to just about any other game on the market.

    On top of that, and maybe it’s just me, I enjoy supporting companies, people, and products that I like. They deserve pay for their work. There’s this whole weird “culture of free” right now because our generation is used to this virtual lifestyle standing in for pay-for physical media. That stuff is slowly dying off, and since it’s all migrating online, these companies have to find a way to monetize it. In an odd way, the initial “freeness” of the internet is precisely what has caused us to reach this impasse, and it has cultured a sense of privilege amongst us that we shouldn’t have to pay for anything. Ever.

    Anyway, I’m sliding off into a different subject here, so I’ll cut myself off. Just some things to chew on.

  10. I actually… don’t. I enjoy the theater experience for seeing new movies (just refrain from buying any snacks), and if I want to listen to music I don’t have, I do it through Pandora, Youtube, or some other, similar source.

  11. @GoodPie

    I see your very tact point there.

    I do fileshare. Blizzard isn’t against someone having access to the files. They mind you tampering with them. This is because you have to have an account to actual get on to the servers and be able to play the game. Does me taking my WoW installation CD to my friend’s house, and installing it on his computer count as copyright infringement? No.

    Just about all of the private servers I have heard about, someone was making money off of it. That’s why I, and others, am against it. It’s not that people are just accessing them and viewing them ( I mean, look at MMO-Champion, who data-mines ) it’s that they are making profit off the product that they in no way contributed to.

    In response, I only download movies that I already have purchased, just am lazy to digitize to have a back-up copy in case the current DVD of mine gets damaged/destroyed. In regards to music, I buy off of iTunes or download from a website with the author’s permission (IE. Sharm with the Alexstrasza parody)

  12. I would say about 3 days ago i made a private server,And i can say it was fun,And it would have been cool to go live and allow people to play it but i read the Blizz ToS.And i find that having a private server isnt worth the account ban.Dont get me wrong i liked being a Server admin,But still,I would rather have blizzard edit and customize LuA and shit.I really dont see the point in private servers now.Just because of the fact that no one will play them for to long,What comes up must come down and if a Emulator is getting alot of players its going to cause attention and you will lose the server.And so now you just wasted time and effort making it,Only to lose it.It isnt worth the time and it isnt worth the risk.I loved being a GM but i preffer playing with the general public on a real realm,Where blizzard can do all the work instead of me.I have to agree with a few of you,Blizzard has every right to get mad at people for making private servers.They made the game,They expect to keep there cash flow and members and not lose them to someone who has created a bootleg server.Soooo,Fuck a private server,Play the real client,Only play a private server if you cant afford to play the regular one.

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