Blizzard Bans 30,000 from WoW

Video game manufacturer Blizzard said Friday that it had banned over 30,000 users of World of Warcraft during the month of May in a crackdown on cheating. The online role-playing game has over 6.5 million subscribers and nearly a 50 percent share of the market, according to recent estimates.

The bans remove about 30 million gold from the economies of the virtual worlds in the games called "realms." Blizzard says that the cheating affects the economy of the realm and hurts gameplay for others, as well as violating the game's terms of use.

"We will continue to aggressively monitor all World of Warcraft realms in order to protect the service and its players from the harmful effects of cheating," the company said in a statement. "Please note that selling World of Warcraft content, such as gold, items, and characters, can result in a permanent ban of the involved accounts from World of Warcraft."

Blizzard said most of the reports of "gold farming" came from tips reported to Game Masters, who serve as overseers to ensure the game is running smoothly. Additionally, players mailed evidence of instances of the practice to the game's Hacks Team.

Gold farming is not the first problem for the realms of World of Warcraft. Players in the game suffered from a virtual plague in September of last year. In February, the company created a stir when it prevented a player from creating a GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) friendly guild, saying it could encourage harassment, but then backed off.

Blizzard said it would continue to investigate the cheating, and issue further bans if necessary.

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