World of Warcraft developer Blizzard has said claims made in a lawsuit which alleges it engaged in "deceptive and unfair" business practices are entirely "without merit".
The lawsuit, filed by gamer Benjamin Bell in the US, insists Blizzard is forcing online players of Diablo III, Starcraft and World of Warcraft to pay $6.40/£8.99 extra for gadget, the Authenticator, if they want to keep their Battle.net, Blizzard’s online gaming service, account secure. If they want to play online, they need just such an account, he says.
Bell’s complaint, Courthows News reports, insists use of the Authenticator - a small random number-generating device of the type often provided by banks for online account login verification - is mandatory and that this is unfair. The number that appears on the Authenticator’s screen must be entered on the computer in order to play, a move that prevents anyone with stolen login details from gaining access.
Bell is seeking damages and an injunction to stop Blizzard charging for the Authenticator. He also wants the Court to force Blizzard to drop Battle.net as a requirement to run the games.
Calling the lawsuit "frivolous", Blizzard said in a statement that it is not the case that use of the Authenticator is mandatory. “The Battle.net Authenticator is an optional tool that players can use to further protect their Battle.net accounts in the event that their login credentials are compromised outside of Blizzard’s network infrastructure,” it said. Which means “account-theft attempts that stem from sources such as phishing attacks, viruses packaged with seemingly harmless file downloads, and websites embedded with malicious code”.
You can get Authenticator functionality for free by downloading an iOS or Android app, it added.
“Considering that players are ultimately responsible for securing their own computers, and that the extra step required by the Authenticator is an added inconvenience during the log in process,” Blizzard said, “we ultimately leave it up to the players to decide whether they want to add an Authenticator to their account. However, we always strongly encourage it.” ®