World of Warcraft Blocked in Iran: Blizzard (Unexpectedly) Explains Why

  • Share
  • Read Later

Companies. They’ll tell you next to nothing when the chips are down. Ask them if the sky is blue and if the headline story is “Experts Claim ‘Sky Might Be Blue’,” they’ll invariably reply “no comment.”

Someone at World of Warcraft developer Blizzard must have missed that memo, because instead of waving off rumors relating their 800-pound MMO to an often touchy subject — ongoing U.S. sanctions against Iran — they’re actually talking about the who, what, where and why.

(WATCH: Here’s What World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria’s Opening Looks Like)

Blizzard reportedly severed access to World of Warcraft in Iran last week, blocking anyone within the country from playing. But it all happened unofficially, and the first anyone heard of it was when players in Iran started posting on Blizzard’s forums.

“I have same problem … I don’t know what happened to Iran or caused this problem!!! So many Iranians are fans of wow,” wrote a player with a level 85 Orc Hunter claiming to be in Iran.

“[I] am talking from all persian gulf … we want to know what happened there really and what shall we do,” wrote another with an 85 Tauren Druid.

The thread goes on for hundreds of posts as players around the world test connections to the game through proxy or VPN servers and speculate whether Blizzard or the Iranian government is responsible for the apparent access block.

Some had alleged elsewhere that the Iranian government was responsible for the shutdown, reporting that Blizzard’s online games as well as others had been blocked because, according to the Iranian government, the games promote “superstition and mythology,” as well as “violence” and “demonstration of inappropriate clothing and slutty outfits for female avatars.”

But by the 1,933rd thread post, Blizzard finally stepped in and confirmed that yes, it’s the responsible party for the block:

Our team has been watching this thread closely, and we understand the desire for more information about this situation. Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.

What we can tell you is that United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. Several of you have seen and cited the text in the Terms of Use which relates to these government-imposed sanctions. This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services.

Worse, Blizzard says U.S. restrictions prevent the company “from providing any refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries,” though it apologizes “for any inconvenience this causes” and says it “will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows.”

MORE: Guild Wars 2: It’s the Pinball Machine of MMOs