Blizzard’s Korean arm just banned and restricted a whopping 22,865 Overwatch accounts for cheating. That’s great news for Overwatch fans, but it’s not going to do much for the time being because of a difference Korean gaming culture versus western gaming culture.
Blizzard said in a post to the Korean Battle.net forums that it’s looking into how to best handle the issue, but it’s a complicated one.
It’s all about PC bangs
In western gaming culture, most of us have our own PCs. American gamers lean toward higher end PCs while European gamers are going more for mid-range systems, but most of those players still have something plugged in at home.
In Korea though, many gamers instead head down the street to their nearest gaming cafe, called a PC bang (pronounced b-ah-ng) to rent some time on a high-end PC there.
Korean gamers are playing versions of these games that handle licensing differently. When one of us gets banned over here, it knocks out our Battle.net accounts and our game licenses. A serial cheater is going to have to buy a new copy of Overwatch each time they get caught.
In Korea, a player banned while playing at a PC bang loses their username, their levels, and any content they’ve unlocked, but doesn’t lose access to the game. This might be off the mark, but I’d wager a guess that if players are repeatedly cheating, they’re not super concerned about getting a new Widowmaker skin or anything like that.
While 22,000 is a drop in the bucket among the tens of millions of players enjoying the game, the behavior of one player could affect the fun of hundreds of players, so swift justice is in Blizzard’s best interests. This is a complex situation without an obvious solution. If a player can just keep making accounts on different computers, how does Blizzard stop them? I’m interested to see how they decide to tackle it.