Digital card game Hearthstone has been one of the shining jewels of esports this year, growing to be one of the top titles and releasing its very first expansion. But like with any popular game, cheaters eventually show up. “Botting”—people running programs that can automate the game, allowing them to rake in the gold and level up their account with little effort—have become a big problem for the game. Botting usually allows for a black market to grow where people buy and sell highly ranked accounts.
Websites have begun popping up with guides of how to play against these bots, as more and more players have complained about their rise. Meanwhile, in an interview with PCGamer, a botter admitted that he wasn’t scared of getting caught. For those who wanted a fair competitive environment, things were starting to look bleak.
Yesterday, however, Blizzard made a massive statement to all those who would bot. In a blog post, community manager Christina “Zeriyah” Sims stated that Blizzard had banned several thousand accounts that had been found botting. All of those accounts will be unable to play until 2015.
What’s more, she clarified in a later forum post what the punishment would be to any account found botting after this recent wave of bans.
Accounts discovered to be botting or violating our Terms of Service from here on out will receive a perma-ban.”
Reactions from the community have been mixed, with some happy about the new punishments and the potentially fewer botting accounts, while others don’t think the three-month ban is going far enough. But reactions from botters, captured in an image posted to Reddit last night, definitely show the severity of the problem, with some admitting to botting upwards of 12 hours a day. Perhaps the biggest irony is the botters who complained about wasting money and time on a now-banned account.
Image via Blizzard