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'Overwatch' Bot Maker Ordered To Pay Blizzard $8.7M

U.S. district court judge David Carter ordered Bossland, a German company that makes bots for Overwatch and World of Warcraft as well as other multiplayer games, to pay Blizzard Entertainment roughly $8.5 million in statutory copyright damages and cover $174,872 in attorney fees. Blizzard's victory follows other wins against Bossland, whose bots are often used to effectively cheat at multiplayer games where balance and fair play are key.

Bossland offers bots for a variety of games, including Pokemon Go and Star Wars: The Old Republic, but it's best known for its Blizzard-focused tools. Watchover Tyrant gives players an edge in Overwatch, Honorbuddy takes care of all the grinding in World of Warcraft, Hearthbuddy lets 'em cheat in Hearthstone, and Demonbuddy will help you comb the underworld's depths in Diablo III. The company likely wouldn't exist without Blizzard.

That appreciation doesn't go both ways. Blizzard designed each of these games to limit progression, ensure fair competitions, and maybe have a little incentive to part with a few dollars instead of spending hours in Hearthstone opening packs of digital cards to build the right deck, for example. Cheaters improve their own experience--they can remove tedium from some games or finally win at others--but they can also ruin other people's good time.

So, the developer took Bossland to court in Germany, the UK, and the U.S. Blizzard won in all three countries. But that hasn't stopped Bossland; the company's website is still up, and it's still offering all its bots to prospective customers. Bossland managing director Zwetan Letschew told the BBC that the company doesn't believe the U.S. has jurisdiction over it and that the ruling ignored the fact that many of its "sales" were actually free trials.

In the meantime, Blizzard has made steady announcements regarding its various franchises. In the last month alone, Diablo III players were teased with a Necromancer class, Overwatch fans got a new character and were told a map editor might come in the future, and StarCraft: Remastered was announced for Windows and macOS. Oh, and the service was rebranded as "Blizzard" more than 20 years after it was first introduced.