On Monday Blizzard said that it soon plans to swing its mighty banhammer on any Diablo 3 player discovered to be cheating. The news arrives just after the company said players must use a Battle.net authenticator in order to use the Real Money Auction House, which is scheduled to open its doors today.
"Playing Diablo 3 legitimately means playing with an unaltered game client," the company said in a blog. "Doing otherwise violates our policies for Battle.net and Diablo 3, and it goes against the spirit of fair play that all of our games are based on."
Blizzard said that if a Diablo 3 player is found to be cheating or using hacks, bots, or modifications in any form, then that player can be permanently banned from the game as outlined in the Diablo 3 end user license agreement. This means the player will be permanently unable to log in to Battle.net to play Diablo 3 with his or her account - essentially $60 down the drain for good, as there's no offline play thanks to the game's strict online-only DRM.
"We strongly recommend that you avoid using any hacks, cheats, bots, or exploits," the company said.
Since its launch, Diablo 3 has suffered a widespread number of account hacks, with gamers reporting stolen gold and virtual items. Blizzard claims that only a small percentage of accounts have been compromised, but one gold farmer stepped forth last week claiming that around 10,000 accounts have been infiltrated using the traditional method. Countless others have been infiltrated from non-traditional methods, he added.
According to the unidentified hacker, he makes around 4 million in gold an hour from compromised accounts. He also said that people who use the same username/e-mail/password on a forum, fansite or any other internet hub is a prime target for gold farmers. Blizzard forums are "bulletproof" he said, indicating that the hacked Diablo 3 players use the same info on external sites.
In the interview below, he goes on to say that he actually wants Blizzard to update its security protocol named Warden to weed out the other small-time gold farmers and bots that are eating into his profits. He believes his methods will be undetectable for the next few months -- long enough to collect virtual gold worth millions in real-world cash.
UPDATE: Blizzard has already started banning suspected cheaters, as reported here.