Hernandez v. IGE

Posted: April 7, 2008 by Kendricke in Uncategorized

As mentioned by Scott Jennings this morning, it seems that Antonio Hernandez, a player of World of Warcraft, is suing IGE.  Moreover, he’s trying to have his suit certified as a class action lawsuit.

Oddly enough, IGE’s position is that the lawsuit has no merit because players “have no standing to sue because they have no ownership or property rights within World of Warcraft“.

So wait, if players have no ownership or property rights, what exactly was it that IGE was selling all this time?  More to the point, what exactly were they buying in the first place (the gold came from somewhere, right?).  If the players didn’t have rights to ownership or property, what exactly was IGE paying players for?

  1. Tipa says:

    Not considered — just not playing the game if he doesn’t like it. It’s a game. You don’t HAVE to play it. Sheesh. For every gold farmer there is someone buying that gold. Nothing you do here will have any effect on people working overseas. Every game has gold farmers, popular games have more of them, and the most popular game in the world is just going to be absolutely crushed by them. There is nothing suing IGE will do to change that.

  2. Kendricke says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this. Blizzard’s actually weighed in on it, supporting the player, Antonio Hernandez. Obviously, they didn’t have to comment at all, and certainly it’s a lawsuit they’d prefer be won.

    After all, game studios lose millions just on customer service related issues every year dealing with gold farmer fraud. We can try to make the case that gold farming doesn’t affect us, but it really does. Every time we complain that a particular release was late, that it was buggy, that our petitions took too long to answer or resolve, or even when one of our friends suddenly can’t log in because someone hacked into their account and stripped their characters…we can, in some way, blame gold farming and the millions of dollars in lost revenue – revenue that could have been used to fix many of the issues we complain about.

    Sure, you might feel the obvious answer is “if you don’t like it, don’t pay for it”. The obvious response to that is “I am paying for it, and I feel this is harming the value of what it is I’m paying for.”

    There’s at least a case to be made here on the subject of gold farming harming value. However, none of that really interested me so much as the statements IGE allegedly made leading up to this which represents an interesting stance related to ownership and property rights.

  3. Thraxarious says:

    In a sense, Gold farming is as bad as Piracy in software. Companies have to spend quite a lot in order to combat it, and combat the very negative effects it wreaks on some games.

    The downside to having “10 million players” is being the biggest target for anyone wanting to start up a gold farming business or sub-contracting division. Or send out the latest keylogger to farm MMO Accounts to siphon.

    Even when you exclude hacked accounts, cost overhead from dealing with gold farmer fraud ( not just bots monopolizing zones ), there is still the impact on the economy of a game that tends to make things more annoying. Obvious inflation in games. Leave your character for 6 months and that tidy bankroll you had earlier no longer is worth that much, maybe half. Like the red queen says, you have to run pretty fast just to stay in one place.

    IGE kind of shoots themselves in the foot, arguing that there is no actual ownership, but on the other side, defending their actions with the other side of the argument. It might be interesting to see if blizzard is able to get an injunction against them from selling their “product”. I won’t hold my breath, but I won’t shed a tear if they do get “blocked”.

  4. Terqelton says:

    If you are interested, I found the court filings for this case. You can see them here:

    I was currious what Mr. Hernandez was going to claim as a cause of action. He actually states two things: 1) Nuisance; and 2) breach of the EULA by IGE.

    With regard to the standing issue that is discussed in the SUN article, that is IGE’s easiest defense to the EULA breach claim. The EULA is a contract between Blizzard and IGE (or IGE’s farming lackeys), and it is personal to them. While Mr. Hernandez *might* be a beneficiary of that contract, it is very unlikely that Mr. Hernandez’s association with Blizzard would rise to the level of allowing him to enforce the EULA between Blizzard and IGE.

    The nuisance claim is interesting though, since, as you guys stated, it would require Mr. Hernandez to have a right to the “quiet enjoyment” of his “property.”

    My gut tells me that this one is going to be dismissed pretty quickly.

  5. Kendricke says:

    First things first: I’m not a lawyer.

    However, after reading through the documents (thank you very much, by the way), it seems that the EULA argument is used as a supporting condition to show how IGE’s violation of an agreement that Mr. Hernandez was held to gave them an unfair advantage of play.

    Essentially, it seems to my untrained eyes that they’re setting the stage for a potential argument stating that because IGE breaks the rules, they make money that Mr. Hernandez cannot (because he’s following the rules they’re breaking). More to the point, because they break the rules that Mr. Hernandez is not breaking, it ends up affecting Mr. Hernandez’s enjoyment of the game he expects based on the conditions set forth in the EULA he agreed to.

  6. wilhelm2451 says:

    Sort of a “quality of (virtual) life” issue then, is it?

  7. Kendricke says:

    It seems to be. I read further into the filing and I’m more convinced that’s the tact they’re going to try for. They’ve mentioned everything from in-game property/currency devaluation to PVP/Competitive disadvantage. They also mentioned that due to the currency devaluation, players have to spend more time in-game to achieve the same goals, which leads to less enjoyment of new content (since presumably they’re spending more of their limited time just treading water, etc).

  8. Illuminator says:

    Is it possible to change the EULA to extend your liability to other players if you accept it and are caught selling virtual items against the rules?

  9. JuJutsu says:

    Are you sure that Blizzard wants a court to rule that players DO have ownership rights to avatars and gear?

  10. Illuminator says:

    It doesn’t have to go that far.

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