The German Federal Court of Justice this week overturned earlier lower court rulings to determine that Bossland’s HonorBuddy bot program for World of Warcraft is in fact in violation of anti-competition laws.
You’ll recall that Bossland creates, distributes, and sells bots for Blizzard’s games, which Blizz has ardently argued violates its copyrights and costs it exorbitant amounts of money to fight in-game and out. In May of 2015, Bossland convinced a German court to deny Blizzard’s request for an injunction against it, which prompted Blizzard to sue Bossland’s American contractor in a California federal court. That suit was ultimately dismissed, but when said American contractor cooperated with the authorities, Bossland absurdly accused Blizzard of copyright infringement for its acquisition of the Heroes of the Storm StormBuddy bot’s source code. Let that sink in for a minute.
In 2016, Blizzard sued Bossland again in a California court over its many hacks, including the Watchover Tyrant for Overwatch, accusing Bossland of “attempting to destroy or irreparably harm that game before it even has had a chance to fully flourish” and pulling in potentially millions of dollars in profit.
In their victory-lap press release, attorneys for Blizzard in Germany this week wrote,
“The verdict is an important signal for all computer game developers who want to defend themselves against the distribution of bot and cheat programs for their games. The BGH has clarified that the distribution of bot programs for online games is anti-competitive and does not have to be taken by the computer game developer. The decision is also in the interest of all honest players, who want to compete in a genuine competition with other teammates.” [Translated]
The court ruling does not yet appear to be available in full online.
A contemptuous blog post written by Bossland back in November rattles off a number of other cases pending against it — two more in Germany, one in the US, and a fresh pair in the UK.
Mein MMO reports that following the judgment, Bossland has closed down the German version of HonorBuddy but plans to continue developing bots for other locales. But Blizzard’s pursuit might have taken its toll anyway; the bot-maker also announced that it is changing lifetime subs to its bots into two-year subs in an attempt to raise money for its “12 lawsuits in Germany.”
“We are changing all existing Demonbuddy and Honorbuddy Lifetime licenses to expire after 2 years of usage,” Bossland writes. “Over the last couple of months, we have been weighed down by legal expenses and by low sales. The effect is simply that we are not generating enough cash to cover its costs right now. The decision to change the lifetime keys to 2 year keys is a very difficult decision, but right now it is the time to move forward with it. The alternative is to stop altogether and our plans for the future are not over yet.”
You can probably guess how well that’s gone over with people who paid for lifetime bots.
The big talk out of the group continues even on its forums, where the botters have publicly interpreted the ruling against them to in fact permit reverse engineering of WoW’s code, “as long as it is just for the program code and as long no audio-visual elements are shown while analyzing the code.”