It seems that the banhammer is now in full force over at Blizzard. Currently, Sodah (the guild master on the high end PVP guild Im MVP on Tichondrius) as well as Cdew have been added to the permaban list as a result of account sharing. I’ve read various tweets from these streamers/gamers as well as forum posts and reddit threads that dive into the situation. While I stick by my original blog post I made earlier on the permaban subject, I wanted to go into why I believe the severity is pretty heavy here.
Although Reckful’s situation felt like an isolated incident, seeing how other high end PVPers are now feeling the wrath of account sharing and even publicly admitting to the situation on various forums make it clear that Blizzard has a larger goal in mind with these people. While it is true that like Reckful, the people who are being banned are obvious heavy supporters of the game and have probably given a certain amount of positive publicity in helping to shape the esports image for Blizzard, there is a massive negative stigma as both high end, popular streamers and as people who allegedly have performed certain shady practices that go beyond account sharing.
First, I read that the certain guild originally was formed to help pocket money for this group. Part of it might’ve been gold but also having a side business of selling arena ratings, carries, etc. There’s some rumors of the account sharing used to help retain their character’s arena ratings. Sodah himself admits doing this on this reddit thread. And if other rumors are true then many of the people who are so-called high end PVPers end up partly getting to that level through similar practices, which pretty much should invalidate their status as a true high end PVPer.
So why in the world would a simple arena rating mean this much here? The biggest issue is that money is involved. While the shady side business of selling arena ratings won’t ever be easily controlled by Blizzard due to their inability to monitor and connection 3rd party transactions, Blizzard does have a priority in attempting to maintain as clean of an image not only as a game distributor but as an esports entity who sponsors people for money. Obviously, guys like Reckful, Cdew and Sodah all have participated in Blizzcon and other Blizzard events for money. If Blizzard wants to continue to help sponsor people like this, then these players have to come clean.
I suppose the best analogy for this situation is the steroids aspect in sports. While steroids and account sharing are pretty distant in terms of physical implications to one’s body, the main idea is that any form of enhancement deemed by the controlling entity as illegal is simply as that: illegal. There’s no question. Participating in such activities is just common sense out the door.
And as high end players who end up having numerous fans (especially these days with their streams), these people really have to take a hard look at themselves in terms of the message they are broadcasting to their audience. I’m certain quite a few of their fanbase are young people who might have similar aspirations for becoming ranked and eventually competing on a global platform like a Blizzcon. Saying it’s “okay to account share” as a method to move up is essentially the same as universities who bribe athletes with cars to sign up for their sports teams (not to mention providing clear favoritism when it comes to receiving priority for signing up for classes and cheat notes for class assignments).
One disturbing trend that I’ve seen is how these people don’t really see any harm in what they’re doing. Maybe from the micro level their actions seem relatively harmless. But there are far larger implications for letting them go unscathed in this. Perhaps, permabans on the characters they’ve dedicated their careers towards is harsh. Maybe the real solution might be to simply disallow these people from competing in any tournament with those accounts. In that manner, they get to keep their hard work but don’t really affect anyone else, at least from a monetary scale.
In this case, I have to applaud Blizzard’s decision. It’s the right move and they need to enforce it so that others can have an equal chance. I know that my viewpoint here probably will receive a lot of criticism but I’m going to call it like I see it.