Hearthstone is one of the most popular head-to-head collectible card games online, but the head on the other end might not always belong to a human.
Developer Blizzard announced today that it’s cracking down on people who use bot programs to constantly play Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. This software essentially enables players to farm the game for digital cards and other in-game resources like gold. But Blizzard has had enough, and any account caught doing this is now banned until 2015, according to a post on the Hearthstone blog. This purge has resulted in “thousands” of bans.
While Blizzard banned thousands of accounts until 2015, in the future, the studio will permanently deactivate the account of anyone caught botting from this point forward.
If Blizzard bans you, you’ll have to either start over or wait for your account to unlock. The good news for you botters is that the developer said it has not removed anything you earned. That means, in 2015, you’ll have access to anything that you got while playing Hearthstone legitimately or illegitimately.
We’ve asked Blizzard why it isn’t removing ill-gotten gains, and we’ll update this post with its response.
Of course, only players who Blizzard caught in this round get to keep their goods. Future botters will lose their accounts forever.
Maintaining the integrity of Hearthstone is important to Blizzard. While the game has a dedicated fanbase who want to know that they are getting a fair experience, the game is also a growing e-sport.
Different competitive-gaming organizations have already held tournaments for the card battler, and Blizzard itself will host a $100,000 tournament at its BlizzCon fan gathering in Anaheim next week. Since players must bring their own decks that they’ve created by playing the game (or paying for cards), it would likely turn into a scandal if a botter were able to rise through the ranks and earn a place in a Hearthstone tournament.