Blizzard wins $88.5 million World of Warcraft lawsuit

Legal action against private-server operator nets MMORPG developer-publisher a hefty payday in court.

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As of May 2009, Blizzard Entertainment was earning over $100 million per month on overall game sales and subscription fees from its massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Last week, that title netted the Irvine, California-based developer and publisher another major payday--of the legal variety.

$88 million buys a lot of mount accessories.
$88 million buys a lot of mount accessories.

On August 11, Blizzard scored a major victory in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Alyson Reeves, operator of the now defunct PC game site Scapegaming. Blizzard filed the suit in October 2009 after discovering that the PC gaming site was making a profit by operating a private World of Warcraft server. The only legitimate WOW servers are owned and operated by Blizzard, which contended that Scapegaming's material gains were ill-gotten.

Judge Margaret M. Morrow of the California Central District Court agreed with Blizzard and levied a hefty penalty on Scapegaming. The site's owner, Alyson Reeves, must pay blizzard $3,052,339 in disgorged profits, $85,478,600 in statutory damages, and $63,600 in attorney fees. Reeves will also have to pay interest on the outstanding balance of the fines until they are paid in full.

The WOW legal decision comes in between the publisher's two major releases of the year. Three weeks ago, the company released Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, which became the fastest-selling strategy game of all time by shifting 1.5 million units in 18 hours. Later this year, it will ship the third expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm.

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