"Tightening of procedures" leads to blackout for Iranian gamers
Gaming giant Blizzard has blocked access to their hugely popular title World of Warcraft in Iran, upsetting thousands of former players.
A statement from the company posted on the forum for the game explained why this action had been taken, and why those players affected would not be able to claim a refund. The Blizzard employee stated "United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran" The short statement in a topic containing over 2500 responses explained that the reason for the unexpected shutdown was due to a "tightening of procedures".
As if this wasn't bad enough for the blocked players, the statement concluded by saying that these restrictions also meant they were unable to provide any "refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries", but did confirm they would lift these restrictions should there be a change in the trading law.
Iranian players dismayed by decision.
As would be expected, this news was not well received by players. One of the very first responses to the statement by a player under the name of Rastivv says "Oh God... Am I dreaming? Is this real?" He concludes by calling the behaviour of Blizzard "disgusting" and calls the blocking of the servers "plain theft and robbery".
Support was shown from around the world, with one American player named RedKoala commenting "That is pretty awful to say the very least and that refunds won't be given out is just.....no words". The move has also been condemned on social media, with many Twitter users criticising both Blizzard and the American government. The share price for Blizzard Entertainment fell after the announcement, although it has since recovered.
Latest setback for Iranian gaming
This action from Blizzard is the latest setback to gaming in Iran. Along with World of Warcraft, Diablo III and Starcraft are among the Blizzard titles no longer available. Both Xbox Live and PlayStation Network fail to include the country on their list of available regions online, while the popular recent title Battlefield 3 was banned due to the story featuring an American led invasion of the country.
While Blizzard has taken strong criticism over its handling of the incident, many people point the finger of blame at the American government rather than the company itself. It has been suggested that American fears on Iranian nuclear capability has been responsible for the recent tightening.
Adrian Mursec, senior developer at theEword said "MMO games such as World of Warcraft are hugely popular around the world. Anyone who has invested time and money into playing this title will clearly be very frustrated, but this may yet prove to be just the tip of the iceberg for Iranian gamers".