Video Game Law Blog

September 26, 2005

Earlier this month, Blizzard added a new dungeon (Zul'Gurub) to World of Warcraft. Dwelling in the dungeon is a monster called Hakkar, who has the ability to infect players with a virus called 'corrupted blood"?. 

It appears that Blizzard intended to limit the infection to characters near Hakkar's corpse; however, the infection has spread to other parts of the game (through a virtual pet!) and has affected hundreds of players. 

Blizzard is attempting to resolve the problem, but this raises an interesting issue for video game lawyers to what extent can online gaming companies be held liable for damage or destruction caused to online players or their virtual property? 

The Blizzard case is probably not a big deal (players are resurrected in Warcraft), but there have been other cases where the potential for liability seemed much higher, such as when there's cheating or theft involved. 

Earlier this year, Square Enix dealt with these issues by banning 800 people from playing Final Fantasy XI. Another good way for online gaming companies to protect themselves is to ensure their licence agreements and online terms of use agreements adequately deal with potential liability issues such as cheating, hacking, viruses and service interruptions.

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