True pirates in virtual worlds

An interesting adventure happened to my MMOPRG-addicted son last week, when he got his World of Warcraft account hacked and he temporarily lost access to his characters! This is actually the second time this occurs. It is obviously a gross invasion of privacy but I find fairly significant that hackers take pains to steal passwords and characters for games instead of banking information! The benefits resulting from such actions are a priori not so important as to justify the effort, even though this seems a widespread occurrence, since the game company, Blizzard, does reinstate stolen accounts in a reasonable time and presumably prosecute hackers… (In the case of my son’s characters, the first hacker transfered all transferable items (money, weapons, etc.) to another character and the second hacker sold the most advanced of his characters to another player who wanted to start at a high level, with the unexpected consequence that my son recovered his character upgraded in skills and points, plus two free months!) Nothing new about this, but I am always amazed at the time and effort spent on these virtual worlds.

2 Responses to “True pirates in virtual worlds”

  1. Interesting entry — I’d only take issue with one thing. Your ‘a priori’ assumption about the relative importance that the thieves place on their ill-gotten booty. Obviously, the benefits were worth -something- to them (in fact, something with monetary value) and you also assume that the effort involved was of a certain level.

    I’m not up on the latest techniques for hacking WoW accounts, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find that the effort is low (and probably lower than getting around banking info safeguards), the risk is perceived to be low (yeah, blizzard prosecutes but certainly they’ll never catch ME..) and the benefit is perceived to be high (the real value is in time-savings — why spend hours and hours grinding to build up a character when you can buy one pre-loaded?)

    So.. yeah, it doesn’t make sense to you or I, yet it happens all the time… must make perfect sense to someone! ;-)

    • Thanks, I mostly wrote the post because I found the story rather funny, as I agree that some people must gain from doing this! Xi’an

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