It seems World of Warcraft just cant keep out of the news with reports of drug dealers being arrested thanks to Blizzard and China about to get both their servers sorted out and the Lich King expansion applied.
It is a little unusual perhaps, but Blizzard at chalking one up for the good guys this morning after providing a local sheriff with player details, including an IP address of a known drug dealer, which directly lead to him being tracked down in Canada and arrested. Alfred Hightower who went by the nickname Rastlynn in World of Warcraft was tracked down after he simply couldn’t stop playing the game and logging on from his secret hide out in Canada. Whilst previous attempts to procure information from Blizzard were deemed unlawful, they provided the information to a local Sheriff who then tracked the IP address to a location using Google Earth.
Mr Hightower is now back on US soil and awaiting deportation to the state in which two counts of dealing drugs were committed. This isn’t the first time the game has been used to catch criminals, with the FBI acknowledging that they have used the game to monitor terrorist chat in the past too, but it does appear to be the first time Blizzard have given up information on a player willingly and has lead some players to question the security of their private information on Blizzard servers.
Meanwhile in China, GAPP (General Administration of Press and Publication) are close to agreeing a resolution with NetEase (the company which runs the game in China). GAPP ordered NetEase to stop taking renewal fee’s for the game, back in November. The dispute began after NetEase started taking full subscriptions from players but GAPP said they had only authorised a beta test and nothing more.
Reports from sources close to both sides has said an agreement appears to be “close” and that instead of shutting NetEease down, they will be fined instead and allowed to continue. There were huge delays in 2009 when NetEase took over the service of the game in China blamed on technical difficulties and the servers remained down for a long time. Sources also said they believed that once agreement had been reached, NetEase would be launching the expansion pack Wrath of the Lich King, which has still not been released in China to date.