World of Warcraft maker Blizzard has been awarded more than $88 million in damages against the creator of a private server on which cheapskate punters could play the multi-player role playing game without paying a monthly fee.
A California court has ruled that Alyson Reeves, who ran the unofficial game service under the name Scapegaming, should pay back over $3 million in 'inappropriate profits', $63,600 in legal fees and more than $84 million in damages.
Private servers are illegal according to Blizzard's EULA agreement and contravene a number of copyrights as well as being notorious breeding grounds for criminal activity and card phishing scams. Scapegaming is thought to have operated its own micro-transactions system whereby lazy gamers could pay for quest items rather than putting in the long hours of grinding to earn them.
It's highly unlikely that Reeves will have the wonga to pay the fine and the final amount will most likely be reduced as the result of an appeal.
What is certain is that anyone else currently running a fake server or thinking of setting one up will think twice in the light of the legal precedent.
World of Warcraft, commonly known as 'Warcrack' because of its highly addictive nature, is probably the most populous online MMPORPG in the history of gaming with more than 10 million active players.