Despite Apology, Blizzard’s Hearthstone Player Ban Will Stay

During the opening of Blizzcon 2019 company president J. Allen Brack gave a bit of an apology about acting in haste to the Hearthstone player ban and the caster ban as well saying, “We moved too quickly in our decision making, and then, to make matters worse, we were too slow to talk with all of you. When I think about what I’m most unhappy about, there’s really two things: The first one is that we didn’t live up to the high standards that we set for ourselves. And the second is that we failed in our purpose. And for that, I am sorry, and I accept accountability.”

What was clearly lacking from that apology was any announcement that anything was going to change. PCGamer later got the opportunity to sit down with Brack during Blizzcon and find out more, including the fact that Blizzard is not going to go back on the ban.

PC Gamer: I wanted to revisit the statement you made at the beginning of the opening ceremony yesterday. You said Blizzard is “committed to everyone’s right to express themselves in all kinds of ways and all kinds of places,” and you made a commitment to do better going forward and that your actions are going to matter more than words do. Are you going to be repealing the punishment against Blitzchung and the two Taiwanese casters involved in this incident?

Allen Brack, Blizzard president: We are not.

Why?

So, one of the things that we talked about in the commitment to expression about all kinds of ways and all kinds of places, is the fact that we’re huge believers in free speech, and we’re huge believers in free expression. We have a long history of that being part of the culture of the company for employees. That’s certainly part of the culture of the relationship that we have with the community. And so employees are free to post on their social media accounts. If you think about the people that we have that are esports athletes, our Grandmasters, or anyone who is participating in esports, they’re free to say and do whatever they want on their social channels. I feel like we have a far more open set of guidelines and policies than really any other traditional sport that takes a view around making sure that all of the people stay on message. And so, that’s how we think about free expression and how we’ve contextualized it.

We want the official broadcasts, which are a small percentage of the overall content that gets created, to be about the games. And we want those to be focused on the games. Again, it’s not about the content of Blitzchung’s message. It’s about the fact that it was not around the games. If we hadn’t taken action, if we hadn’t done something, you can imagine the trail that would be in our future around doing interviews. They would become times for people to make a statement about whatever they wanted to, on whatever issue. That’s just a path that we don’t want to go down. We really want the content of those official broadcasts to be focused on the games, and keep that focus.

 

With regards to the casters being reinstated, you’ve admitted that this situation was mishandled on Blizzard’s behalf. I’m wondering why that same sort of forgiveness isn’t being extended to the casters? Considering Blizzard admits it mishandled this situation, why haven’t you decided to be more graceful with them and their punishment?

We have been more graceful. The initial reaction was that we would not work with the casters anymore. In our revised statement, we came to the conclusion that it felt like the casters and Blitzchung, we wanted to align their penalty. So we’ve come out and said they have a six-month penalty.

 

He also goes on to say that the Weibo post that talked about defending the pride of China was written by NetEase and was not approved by Blizzard at all. They also talk about the casters and why they are still being punished. If you are a fan of Blizzard or you know someone who is I highly recommend you read the interview on PCGamer. It will quickly make you forget the damage control that is Diablo IV and Overwatch 2.

 

Source: PCGamer

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PUBG Has Been Banned in Jordan, Fortnite Expected to Follow

PUBG has been banned in Jordan, just one of many such bans we’ve seen against popular Battle Royale titles this year. It is also expected that Fortnite won’t be far behind. The reason for the ban, like the others we’ve seen this year are vague concerns about the negative impact of these games. According to Jordan’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission, a recent study found that the game was harmful to people of all ages. The commission’s Director of Beneficiaries Affairs said that it was established to deal with complaints from citizens about the terrifying spread of menacing videogames.

It will be interesting to see if these bans stick. So far the others that have happened across Asia haven’t, but, for a short time they bring some attention to the area and spark debate about if these games are actually dangerous or not.

This of course also comes after the World Health Organization declared that video game addiction is a real health concern. A move that, as it turns out, was done in haste and possibly had some political pressure from several different countries in Asia. As the dust settles there seems to be less support for Gaming Disorder and it is possible we will see the WHO reverse their decision in favor of more research in the future.

Battle Royale games specifically seem to be getting targeted in a way that no other genre of game ever has before. This is almost certainly because of their massive popularity with pre-teens and teens. Popularity that has spread across the world and from the point of view of parents at least, is all consuming and destroying lives.

 

Source: PCGamer

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E3 2019: Dr Disrespect has Been Banned from E3 for Streaming in the Bathroom

In news that will make you ask WTF was he thinking, Dr. Disrespect has been banned from E3 for streaming in the bathroom. Not only has he been banned from E3 his Twitch account has vanished as well. Though it hasn’t been confirmed yet if he’s been banned from the platform. Ninja’s wife and manager Jessica Blevins tweeted without context “Doc’s channel got banned.” So while it hasn’t been confirmed, it seems pretty likely this is the case as he quite clearly violated Twitch’s rules. Oh, and he broke California law by live streaming in the bathroom. In California, cameras are illegal in the bathroom as they’re considered an invasion of privacy.

In the live stream, you could quite clearly see men and minors using urinals, completely oblivious to the fact that they’re being recorded. We won’t be linking to that or including any images for obvious reasons. At the time he entered the bathroom 60,000 people were watching his stream. Oh and because the internet the place that the internet is, there are people who don’t think it was a big deal and have started a hashtag in his honor, which again, we won’t be sharing.

Since this all took place yesterday Dr. Disrespect hasn’t been seen online. His twitter account hasn’t had any new activity on it and he hasn’t responded to any media requests. Today is a new day however so it is likely we will hear from him soon. When we do we will update this page with any new information.

For now though, the important things to know are that Dr. Disrespect live-streamed, illegally, in the bathroom at E3. The ESA has confirmed that his access to E3 has been revoked, just as E3 is properly getting started. Finally, his Twitch channel is no longer online and there has been no official word yet from Twitch.

 

Source: Kotaku, Twitter

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Nepal Bans PUBG on Mental Health Grounds

Nepal bans PUB after the government says that the game is having a negative impact on the mental health of youth. Nepal has put the ban in place after citing the often used belief that video games are addictive and cause aggression in teens. This, despite repeated research being done that proves this isn’t the case at all.
The ban was pushed through the courts in a single day. Nepal’s Metropolitan Crime Division reportedly consulted psychiatrists who believe video games cause aggression and also pointed out that other countries have banned the game as well. This isn’t entirely true, however. China hasn’t outright banned the game, they simply haven’t approved it yet and there are several PUBG Mobile games for China. There were bans in several cities in India, but at least one of them has already lifted that ban and the ban wasn’t countrywide.
However, police in India have arrested college students for playing PUBG in cities where the game is banned, and we could see that happen in Nepal too.

Talking to the Kathmandu Post Dhiraj Pratap Singh, the chief of the Metropolitan Crime Division said, “We have decided to ban the game before anything unfortunate occurs in Nepal.” So far there has been no statement from PUBG Corp on the ban.
It should also be noted that Nepal banned porn in October in an effort to curb sexual violence. This was also a move that was considered ridiculous and ineffective. It looks like Nepal is using the same misguided logic to go after games, though why they’re specifically targeting PUBG we may never know.
So, if you have any trips to Nepal planned it might be a good idea to remove PUBG from your phone before you get there. It looks like they’re going to take this ban pretty seriously.

 

Source: Kathmandu Times via The Verge

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WoW Wednesday: The Bans of Ten Lands

Last week I was banned from the World of Warcraft.

To be fair, after fourteen years, it was going to eventually happen. I’ve survived several of the game’s more controversial bans, especially in the early days of what we now call Classic WoW. Bans are not an uncommon thing in the game’s long history, both the temporary variety (which I received) and more permanent ones. Receiving one is as simple as using an item in a manner that was not intended, but some of the more infamous have resulted in players distinctly modifying game files to skip entire legions of raid trash.

This week I’d like to talk on the latest of these mass-bans for one of Battle for Azeroth’s simplest items. This ban, for a majority of its users, is utterly well deserved. However due to the nature of the details in this particular situation its vital to discuss, especially when it comes to the playability and enjoyment to be found in the earlier portions of Warcraft’s gameplay.

The item is one that most players starting their quest will not be aware of for quite some time. In fact, most max-level players in current content are not aware of its existence, as it was quietly added by Blizzard with the introduction of the new Service Medal Currency. The Draught of Ten Lands is a flask made available for five Service Medals, awarded through participating directly in your faction’s war effort. Binding to your Blizzard Account, this flask can be mailed to any of your characters and give them a small stat boost, as well as a 10% increase to experience.

Draught of Ten Lands
The intent of such an item is rather clear, from first glance. In addition to heirlooms, gear which scales with a new character and grants an experience bonus, this is intended to assist in the leveling process. Many players purchased them to use for this purpose, myself included. This has been in the game since the original release of Patch 8.1 and has already seen prolific use by people wanting to level their new Mag’har or Dark Iron characters.

However with the release of both the Kul Tiran and Zandalari races, there seems to have evolved a new, far more interesting use of this rather unassuming item. To say that the Draught was bugged is a very minor understatement of the facts. On multiple occasions when mailing it to other characters, the Draught sorted itself into individual stacks in my bags. Sometimes the Draught would just completely disappear from my inventory entirely. Despite appearing to last an hour, the buff the draught gave has no form of duration tracker on it, making it seem eternal and difficult to track. This, to my knowledge and the knowledge of others, has been going on for at least a month.

All of this would combine into the now famous leveling exploit, one which neither the staff of this site or myself condone. I first discovered the exploit by accident, when all of the above bugs combined to my general confusion; thinking the timer had gone up on one of my Draughts I used an additional, separate one from my bags. And then the buffs stacked.

I first discovered this during a Stockades run with a party of newly created Zandalari Trolls. I received a whisper, “I see you’ve noticed the Draughts too.” Our tank had discovered the bug.

And he had almost forty separate buffs from the Draught of the Ten Lands.

warcraft Auction House Hotfix
It turns out that if your potions had individually stacked in your bags, which mine had, you could consume entire groups of them to potentially fill up all of your 250 buff slots and exponentially increase your experience gain. Cumulatively. Imagine that, a 2500% experience gain outside of the Monk leveling buff and addition 50% gain from Heirlooms.

This was a bug that Blizzard had been aware of for some time. Even searching through the World of Warcraft Customer Service accounts on Twitter you can see players general confusion on whether or not this item was working as intended. Bug reports about various features regarding the Draught can be seen as early as December of last year when it was added to the game. These issues were a widespread concern far before the addition of the new Allied Races in 8.1.5, but because of the publicity of the new leveling scale this issue became far more widespread. People began to purposefully use this to level their new characters, myself included. After all its hard not to see why this wasn’t intended, having been available for nearly four months in game with no changes or fixes.

Now to be once again transparently clear we here at MMOGames.com do not condone the use of exploiting or cheating in any game. I myself feel I was justly banned, receiving a 48 hour lockout for powerleveling roughly 40 levels with my Zandalari Monk. Others, like Warcraft Youtuber Preach were banned for their first offence for 31 days. Most people who intentionally used this flask were caught somewhere in the middle, punished for how far they had gone with their characters. However, there are some incredibly important things that should be discussed here.

The first is why is this such an issue? Most of the community is understandably upset as this was not an issue for nearly four months. These bugs have been prevalent throughout its release, and the silence was deafening from all official Blizzard communications until the eventual bug-fix of the Draught in-game. Its not hard to see why some of the more vocal playerbase feel slighted by what’s happened with this banning process, particularly with how other bans have occurred in the past.


Taking an example from more recent history, the Legion expansion saw players journeying to the far reaches of the universe to combat the Burning Legion. Aside from assaults by the demonic horde on Azeroth, players could also assault the Legion on worlds they were invading as part of end-game content. A particular account-bound toy players could receive could teleport low-level players TO these invasion sites, which allowed them to group up with other players and collect large amounts of experience very quickly.

Clearly this portal toy was not intended to be used by low-level alts. However, despite that, no one was banned for its usage. Equivalency is a hard thing to achieve in moderating anything, whether it be a Discord server, a game forum, or even an MMORPG itself. Warframe most famously has its issues where players can receive bans for using certain words which could be perceived as social slurs in the global chat, even when discussing particular colloquial abilities between Frames. Moderation is not easy, especially on a massive scale. Some of the backlash is apparent due to the timing of it; most of the bans whether they be 48 hours or 31 days fell over the free ‘Return to WoW’ weekend.

The second question we need to ask is, “Why do players care?” The reality is no one cared. Players didn’t notice the usage of the Flask until it was already incredibly widespread during the Allied Races. Those that found the bugs on the whole reported them as it came up. This was not a large-scale issue until the release of the Zandalari and Kul Tirans and the summation of widespread bans. Without any form of public correction from Blizzard through any channels, players were getting swept up simply by asking other dungeon-goers how they were leveling so quickly. Hundreds of players have been banned, from the cutting-edge Mythic raiders to the most casual of questers, the demographic is huge.

The last, and potentially most important, question is, “Why are players looking to accelerate their leveling experience?”

It is simply because World of Warcraft is boring.

This has been a problem for years and is a systemic issue with playing Warcraft. Adventuring through the world of Azeroth is a very dry experience. Some content is older than the current design of the level 1-60 experience and is wretchedly repetitious. I’m currently leveling a fresh Druid through the old world questing systems where there isn’t any of the high-scale production value found in Battle for Azeroth. Unless you read every piece of quest-text there is very little to really hook you into gameplay until you reach the later end of your journey.

There is no focus on the leveling experience for either newer or veteran players, which makes sense. World of Warcraft, unlike other MMOs, is focused on its core endgame development. That is what keeps older players returning

So where does this leave us? Players have been, rightfully, banned for exploiting game mechanics. Blizzard’s silence and the confusing stance on previous bannings, however, have left the majority of the affected playerbase wanting. There is a clear disconnect between the desires of players and the intents of the developers in regard to the playing of Warcraft with little clear sight of resolution. Even the most important things now are falling through the cracks of Azeroth’s very design for players to toy with to improve their own experience.

This situation is clearly been brought to a head from deep seated issues that have been prevalent from some time now. We’ve asked the why, but when it comes to a clear divergence on the views of Azeroth, we need to ask a far more important question:

Can players truly ever enjoy Azeroth as intended, or there a greater conversation to be had about the user experience and what really constitutes as ‘fun?’

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Cryptic Releases a Statement Regarding the Neverwinter Ban Wave

Most of the Neverwinter fanbase is still on fire regarding the Barovia Hunt ban wave that hit the game this past weekend against users of a known exploit. Now, Cryptic Studios has issued a statement elaborating on what it says are additional measures taken to warn players.

barovia hunt ban wave

According to the statement, the September 12th posting on the website was not the only warning granted to Neverwinter players:

“Players were notified about the exploit and abuse consequences via an official statement from our Community Manager on the ArcGames.com Forums, which was also replicated on Reddit.”

The problem with Cryptic’s action, as detailed by one of our commenters, is that the exploit in question was three months old and was ignored by the devs. It was only after the exploit got out of hand that they decided to fix it as well as take action against those who used it according to the player’s claim.

Regardless, Cryptic appears to be using its terms of service as an explanation for its action and directs those who wish to dispute any ban on their account to contact the customer service team.

Our Thoughts

So the dispute here, then, appears to be the fact that the alert against use of the exploit was not early enough. Still, if Cryptic knew about an exploit for that long, then so did the players, which speaks a bit more to that “willful ignorance” thing we mentioned in the original report. Unless, as before, players genuinely assumed that the exploit was the way Barovia Hunts were meant to be played. Still, we’d rather that Cryptic handled this a bit more delicately with more carefully targeted bans.

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Neverwinter Unleashes a Ban Wave for Barovia Hunt Exploits

The hammer has come down on a number of Neverwinter players. A Barovia Hunt exploit that was well known by both players and devs has finally been shut down and consequences meted out to those who took advantage.

barovia hunt exploit

The exploit in question was listed as a known issue by the devs in a post on September 12th, which warned players that using the exploit was a breach of the game’s Terms of Service and subject to “possible actions.” As of this past weekend, the exploit has since been closed and an undisclosed number of players are being banned from the MMO.

The game’s community appears to be in a furor over the ban wave, arguing that the exploit in question was open for so long and was so widespread that it became practically a feature of gameplay. On the other end of the argument, as stated in one related Reddit thread, taking advantage of the exploit is akin to robbing from a neighbor because they left their door unlocked.

Our Thoughts

While the ban wave may indeed seem rather heavy-handed, we have to admit that people seeing consequences as a result of ignoring the warning should not surprise a lot of people. In many cases, this sounds like a rash of willful ignorance, barring those who don’t follow updates made to the game’s website extremely closely.

Source: MMORPG.com

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Destiny 2 Issues Unexplained Mass Bans

If you’re among those who tried to play Destiny 2 on PC and were hit with a ban for what appears to be no reason, you’re most certainly not alone. Numerous reports of a mass Destiny 2 player ban are flooding into Bungie’s forums and the Destiny 2 subreddit, with no clear explanation as of this story’s writing.

destiny 2 player ban

Bungie did issue an alert on its help site in September about what third-party applications would be accepted by the PC edition of Destiny 2 for those who wish to capture their gameplay or chat with others via Discord. That said, players are still reporting being banned from the game without using any third-party program.

In spite of the reports, the game’s community manager is insisting that using unauthorized third-party programs would only cause a performance problem with Destiny 2, not trigger an outright ban. “In Destiny there are account restriction and bans. Restrictions are only temporary but must be waiting out while bans are permanent,” reads one response listed as an official answer by a moderator. “Please note that Bungie will not discuss or overturn account restrictions or bans.”

Our Thoughts

So either there’s a concerted effort to try and cause a ruckus in the Destiny 2 community, or (more likely) there’s something going on with Destiny 2 itself that erroneously triggers some manner of anti-cheat or anti-tampering protection. Here’s hoping that Bungie resolves the matter ASAP; there’s few rage fires than burn brighter, hotter, and longer than jilted PC gamers.

Sources: official forums, Destiny subreddit, Bungie help site

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