Game Politics

Does depriving gamers in Iran from World of Warcraft and the up coming Panda Expansion help anyone?

Hoping people are going to rage-quit their regime?

Here's the post from a blue at Blizz []:

Screen Shot 2012-08-29 at 22.12.39

And the text:

Our team has been watching this thread closely, and we understand the desire for more information about this situation. Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.What we can tell you is that United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. Several of you have seen and cited the text in the Terms of Use which relates to these government-imposed sanctions. This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services.This also prevents us from providing any refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows.

Quite apart from the practical points and points of international law, one think I don't get is how "prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran" and "this also prevents us from providing any refunds" work together.

If Blizzard could not do business with people, then it could not take their money, right?

But apparently it means they just can't give it back. How does that work? OK Blizzard, don't do 'business' with the people or Iran, just send them a gift - a gift of their own money for the service you are not providing to them.

Less on the specifics - there has traditionally been a notional separation of sport and politics. With the exception of the widespread sporting ban on South Africa this seems to broadly apply. Can't we apply the same to gaming?

Comments on Game Politics :

Stabs says:

"Can't we apply the same to gaming?"

Who is the "we" to whom you are appealing?

If Blizzard has (perhaps unwittingly) been breaking US law then they may have been advised they don't really have a choice. So if you're asking games companies to make a stand that may not be in their best interest.

(Although presumably if people were playing WoW in Iran then Microsoft and/or Apple also have been doing business there too. I wonder if other American IT firms will follow suit and/or be prosecuted by the US government).

If you're appealing to governments and politicians then keep going. Drum up enough interest and it should get debated and questioned. I would have thought it's very much in America's best interest to have everyone using Microsoft and WoW rather than developing robust independent operating systems and an internet.

If you're appealing to gamers then it's possible they're already ahead of us. If WoW were banned in my country and I wanted to play it I'd probably try using proxies or emulator servers. I wonder how long it will be until we see an Iranian emulator if the game is no longer provided. I doubt the US would have much luck pursuing a copyright breach against a hostile country over a product they're withholding.

Posted Aug 29, 2012 6:48:52 PM | link

Dave Rickey says:

Come on, you should know better. Yes, Blizzard was violating the law by taking money from people in Iran and letting them play (probably accomplished through some workaround billing through another country). I expect that they got a sternly worded letter from DOJ or State letting them know that and "requesting" that they stop allowing anyone from an Iranian IP play, post-haste. Giving the money back would be an *additional* violation of the law, when they know they're already on the radar.

If I were an Iranian WoW player who just had to play, I'd open another account and this time make sure I connected through a VPN.


Posted Aug 30, 2012 12:20:20 AM | link

MMO Fan says:

Religion in MMOG's

The above link was closed but since we're talking about politics, I figured let's throw in religion. I wanted to comment using the original post but it was closed.

I was looking to see continued discussion on the topic of religion in MMOs. It would be interesting to play an MMO where instead of races (i.e. tauren, human, night elf) you choose a religion and your quest line and starting area correlates to your choice. If enough thought was put into it to where it was as entertaining and visually appealing as guildwars2 and structured in such a way where guilds were much more powerful if they were diverse...and of course most importantly the questlines would have to be well thought out and tasteful.

Posted Aug 30, 2012 4:51:03 PM | link

Guest says:

The USA are already preparing to go to war with Iran, so you can't have your citizens playing games with people from that evil terrorist country. They might notice these other people are actually normal human beings which also fear war. It might dampen their eagerness to kill them.

Posted Sep 1, 2012 3:51:30 PM | link

Ren says:

I was more thinking of the political level. Akin to notional separation of sports and politics as I mentioned. Though that probably only applied to 'orgnaised' or 'official' sports. In the main online-gaming is a peer activity which does set it apart from this tradition.

Posted Sep 2, 2012 7:16:43 AM | link

Ren says:

I guess I need to read the law. If what you are saying is the case I wonder if Blizzard committed fraud as it was forming contracts it did not have a legal basis to. I wonder also if an Iranian can sue in a US court. Hmm

Posted Sep 2, 2012 7:18:42 AM | link

Ren says:

Indeed when the enemy stops being the 'other' it does put a damper on the killin'

Posted Sep 2, 2012 7:20:49 AM | link

Richard Bartle says:

So if Blizzard were to allow people in Iran to play WoW for free, would that be OK?

Posted Sep 3, 2012 6:59:50 AM | link

Ren says:

That's a good idea. If Blizzard can ban and retain money on the basis of things like IP, why can't it play-for-free on the same basis?

Posted Sep 3, 2012 7:08:55 AM | link

Andy Houghton says:

The article is a little sketchy anyway. I agree that I was thinking the same thing in my head as I read about the "no refunds" thing. I'm sure some shady stuff goes down all over. Blizzard did say it tightened its compliance to ensure it was following laws. So they weren't really in compliance before?

Posted Sep 4, 2012 3:43:46 PM | link

Chris Bateman says:

Honestly, trade sanctions against Iran may simply be counter-productive: the countries you do not trade with are the ones you have no influence upon. South Africa is perhaps the only major example where trade sanctions have had an effect, but they weren't sat on a big pile of oil - Iran will not have trouble trading elsewhere, and whomever they do trade with will be the ones who have political sway with them.

Of course, this has nothing to do with World of Warcraft. :)

Posted Sep 6, 2012 6:14:30 AM | link