Warden (also known as Warden Client) is an anti-cheating tool integrated in Blizzard Entertainment games such as Diablo II (since patch 1.11), StarCraft (patch 1.15), Warcraft III and most notably World of Warcraft. While the game is running, Warden uses API function calls to collect data on open programs on the user's computer and sends it back to Blizzard servers as hash values to be compared to those of known cheating programs. Privacy advocates consider the program to be spyware.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation and other groups have labeled Warden as spyware. Blizzard has said that Warden does not gather any personally identifiable information about players other than the account being used. It also states that the data collected is only used for finding evidence of malicious programs and cheating.
"The Governor" is a third-party network monitoring tool created by Greg Hoglund that monitors a portion, but not all, of Warden's activity. Although it may conflict with the World of Warcraft EULA and ToU, there have been no reports of anyone being banned for using the Governor.
"Moderation Bots" are third-party game clients written to monitor, administer, or moderate in game chat channels. While they are not used for cheating, Warden still disables them. Blizzard's stand on moderation bots calls them "Third-Party Programs".
MDY Industries v. Blizzard Entertainment
Warden has been brought to light by Blizzard's lawsuit with MDY Industries, LLC., the creator of the gameplay automation software Glider (more popularly known as WoWGlider or MMOGlider). Blizzard has alleged in legal filings that Warden prevents players from creating unauthorized copies of the game client, which was previously an unknown function. Blizzard makes no mention of its known function of collecting data on open programs. Furthermore, it is actually referred to as "Warden," the first time Blizzard has confirmed its name.
Judge David Campbell ruled against MDY in July, and agreed with Blizzard’s infringement claims and stated the third party program tortiously interfered with World of Warcraft's sales and impacted Blizzard's relationship in a negative fashion with their customers. And now a US district court has awarded Blizzard US$6 million in damages against MDY Industries.
Legal actions have been taken up against Blizzard's RAM scanning for privacy reasons as far back as its first implementation in the World of Warcraft alpha test to watch if users were breaking their confidentiality contract. Within days of the beta test new lines were added to World of Warcraft's EULA.
- ^ Fulton III, Scott 2005-10-24. Does a "World of Warcraft" EULA compliance mechanism count as spyware?. TG Daily.
- ^ Ward, Mark 2005-10-31. Warcraft game maker in spying row. BBC News.
- ^ McSherry, Corynne 2005-10-20. A New Gaming Feature?Spyware. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved on 2007-11-27.
- ^ WoWGilder.com
- A tool for monitoring Warden's activity, with download link. (Called: The Governor)