Having left WAR behind, our little instance group took a straw poll to decide where we would point our collective efforts. After some thoughtful discussion, the easy and obvious answer was to return to WoW. Of all the options available to us, it was really the only immediate choice that would satisfy our collective time budget constraints and uber casual play style. No big surprise really, but it was necessary to ask the questions.
Having stayed out of WoW pretty much since the WAR headstart got rolling, I hadn’t really done much other than take down the big patch at some point, but that was about it. So now that WAR was no longer on the horizon, I saw I had my hunter in the low 60s and Lich King coming up (not that I was really looking forward to it all that much).
Nonetheless, the hunter was close enough to 70 to make a go of it which would provide a bit of an interim goal. I logged on last Friday and respecced (because of the recent talent point refunds) and headed off to Zangarmarsh to get to work. I managed to ding a level or two Friday evening and got almost all the way to 64 on Sunday morning when I got disconnected.
No worries, I thought. There seems to be some latency/disconnect problems of late. So it was a bit of a shocker when I tried to log back in and found my acccount had been BANNED.
Gulp. No warning, no email, just logged on one minute, then disconnected the next.
I tried and failed to log in again several times then I hit the web. A few minutes later I received an opaque form email from Blizzard:
***Notice of Account Closure***
This is a notification regarding the World of Warcraft account XXXXXXXX. Access to this account has been permanently disabled for exploitation of the World of Warcraft economy or for being associated to accounts which have been closed for intended exploitation. While we try to be as lenient as possible in our assessments of the results of exploitation investigations, exploitative endeavors on your accounts have ultimately lead to their closure. The recurring subscription on the account has been disabled to prevent further charges.
Huh? “Exploitation of the economy”?
I wracked my brain what could have been the trigger, but came up empty. I use a few addons that are probably the most popular ones used by tens if not hundreds of thousands of players via Curse Gaming– auctioneer, quest helper, some button bar mods, nothing that interesting. Certainly nothing that would single me out from many many others.
I hadn’t been on in a while, but I had all my stuff, so it didn’t occur to me that my log in might have been compromised, but Wilhelm and Mrs. P checked the guild status and all of my alts had all last logged on about 10 days prior to the ban and on a weekend.
Curious. I don’t remember doing that. Likewise, I still have toons and a defunct guild on another server, so Mrs. P logged in there– same story. All my toons had logged on that same weekend. Very curious.
Our best guess was that the account must have been compromised and having very little wealth, used the account as either a chat spammer or a mule for gold delivery.
After surfing around and reading lots of Blizzard horror stories about these no warning bans, I was not encouraged. You have to deal with them only through email, and it would likely take several days for them to reply, if at all.
Still, I didn’t have much to say other than “Hey, WTF? I’ve had this account for 4 years and I don’t do anything bad, what gives?” Four years. Ouch.
That’s when it started to sink it a bit. Four of us have been playing together almost since release and the five of us in the instance group for just over two years. If this didn’t get resolved, that would be pretty much it for that era.
I don’t have it in me to powerlevel a new toon to 70 nor reward Blizzard for their unwarranted action on my account.
Blizz is notorious for not giving any explanation of any reasons for these bans. I just held my breath hoping that they might actually reply and I’d have a chance to make my case based on what little I had gathered.
About a day and a half later I receive:
Please review this entire message, as it contains important instructions about the security of your account. We have reset the password to the World of Warcraft account XXXXXXXX. Please note:
Account Administration is not involved in the restoration of missing characters and/or items due to the account being compromised, and is unable to provide updates on investigation status.
· If you reported losses via an in-game petition, an account investigator will contact you as soon as possible with news of any restoration.
· Please note that it can take an extended amount of time for the investigation to be completed;
· If you do not receive correspondence from a Character Specialist or Investigator within two weeks, please submit an in-game petition for further assistance.
· Please use the new password that has been sent to your registered e-mail address to log into the game client first. After you have successfully logged into the World of Warcraft, you may proceed to the Account Management page to set the password as you choose.
I dutifully did every possible scan I could think of for keyloggers and such, updated my virus and firewall (which was updated anyway), deleted all my addons and everything else I could think of before I reset the password.
A complete mystery. At least I knew that I didn’t have to worry about my stuff. I was logged in when I got the boot and everything was fine. I was able to get on last night and everything was normal as far as I could tell.
A complete mystery and a scary little reminder of my own virtual mortality (not to mention a little too revealing look at Blizzard’s account management). All’s well that ends well, or so I hope. But I’ll still be looking over my shoulder for the next few weeks.