Blizzard caught in Authenticator legal storm

News Jane McCallion Nov 12, 2012
Gavel and keyboard
Gavel and keyboard

World of Warcraft developer faces challenge over security device and cloud gaming model

Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind cloud gaming platform Battle.net, is being sued over allegations it has made millions “deceptively and unfairly” by charging customers for an after-sale security product.

The product in question, Authenticator, is linked to an individual account and generates a random code that gamers enter in addition to their username and password when they play games published by Blizzard, such as Diablo III, Starcraft II and World of Warcraft, online. The device adds an additional layer of security to gamers’ accounts, Blizzard claims, but is not compulsory.

However, in the suit - filed in San Fransisco and led by plaintiff Benjamin Bell - it is claimed users are forced to use the device.

Bell added that it is Blizzard’s responsibility to ensure security is adequate without users incurring additional costs.  The suit claims the company has continued to “negligently, deliberately, and/or recklessly fail to ensure that adequate, reasonable procedures safeguard the private information stored on this website,” and cites the multiple hacking incidents the company has suffered in recent months as evidence it failed to take “the legally required steps to alert” users to problems.

The suit also challenges the validity of cloud gaming as a software delivery model. In addition to seeking damages and an injunction against Blizzard charging additional sums for required security devices, Bell is also seeking to stop Blizzard from requiring players to set up a Battle.net account.

In a statement issued to IGN, Blizzard said the suit was “without merit and filled with patently false information”.

“Many players have voiced strong approval for our security-related efforts. Blizzard deeply appreciates the outpouring of support it has received from its players related to the frivolous claims in this particular suit,” the statement concluded.