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Who Is DDoS Attacking MMORPGs?

Is it just a coincidence, or is there something going on? Square Enix is the second company to report DDoS attacks by an anonymous group over the last week, following a brief mention by Blizzard several days ago. In both cases, gamers have seen tremendous lag, disconnections, and difficulty signing onto the online game.

A DDoS is a "Distributed Denial of Service" attack, and describes the act of making a server unavailable by flooding it with packets of data using multiple computers. This attack can be used as a protest to make a point, as a distraction while hackers break into other networks and systems, and so on.

According to Square Enix, the attacks are targeting the company's Final Fantasy XIV Online North American/European data center. The good news is that character data and personal information are not being exposed. However, the attacks are ongoing, meaning that Square Enix is still scrambling to fix the issue. Unfortunately, the clever hackers keep changing their methods, so there's no telling when the DDoS problem will be resolved.

"Due to this attack, our game servers, network equipment and network connection are being hit with heavy load at an extensive level, which is causing a disconnection from the game and login difficulties," Square Enix reported.

"We will continue to monitor and work on recovery from every possible angle," the company added.

Just last week, Blizzard launched the World of Warcraft expansion pack Warlords of Draenor. The company experienced a heavy amount of traffic, which can cause long queues, lag and disconnections. To help with the issue, Blizzard added multiple ways to access the new territory, allowing players to enter Draenor through capital cities and the shrines in Pandaria.

"While that solution helped a ton for our North American launch, we ran into a few other issues, including a distributed denial of service attack that resulted in increased latency," said community manager Bashiok. There were no other mentions of a DDoS attack.

Lastly, on Tuesday, World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack posted a long apology, revealing that every subscriber in the Americas, Europe and Oceania will get five extra days of gameplay for free. To get this free time, customers must have an active account as of Friday, November 14.

That all said, did an anonymous group attack both services, or is this just a coincidence that two MMORPGs were affected by DDoS attacks within the span of a week? We may be making something out of nothing, but we can't help but wonder if some group out there has a bone to pick with MMORPGs and/or the companies behind them.

So who is next? Sony Online Entertainment? If this is some sort of campaign against these services, we expect to see another one in the next several days. We're still not sure why hackers would want to flood MMORPGs in the first place… all it seems to do is bring frustration to both the gamers and publishers.

Follow Kevin Parrish @exfileme. Follow us @tomshardware, on Facebook and on Google+.

  • TechyInAZ
    Strange, but then again, lots of people do strange things for no purpose.
    Reply
  • jalek
    Sounds like the federal agencies need to take a break from gathering snapchat photos from schoolkids and shut down a few overseas botnets.
    Reply
  • Karpet360
    I wonder if this happened a few days ago to me on eve, had a whole fleet lose connection and the server was offline for a few min.
    Reply
  • scout_03
    This kind of lag and disconnect from server also happens a few weeks ago on neverwinter .
    Reply
  • drapacioli
    It's not just big companies, a lot of smaller ones are getting hit right now too. I've had at least 2 or 3 of my most frequently visited sites be DDoS'd in the past few weeks, one of them repeatedly. One was even a forum provider of all things! It just seems like the DDoS-ers are out in full force right now.
    Reply
  • Vaesmannaeyjar
    People having an interest in MMO servers not working are the pirated servers operated by companies other than the one owning the game. In the case of WoW, a new Xpack is the time when subscribers come back to experience new content...and stop frequenting P2W pirated servers for a time. A phenomenon the owners of said servers do not like at all.
    Reply
  • Vaesmannaeyjar
    People having an interest in MMO servers not working are the pirated servers operated by companies other than the one owning the game. In the case of WoW, a new Xpack is the time when subscribers come back to experience new content...and stop frequenting P2W pirated servers for a time. A phenomenon the owners of said servers do not like at all.
    Reply
  • trebor1089
    Bet Sony are happy about you putting their name forward for one
    Reply
  • Novuake
    Guild Wars 2 got hit a few weeks before WoW as well.
    Reply
  • blppt
    ^ I can confirm this, happened about a month ago FWIR.
    Reply