World of Warcraft – Terms of Service (or: Why You Need Two Accounts)

Technically it’s called a Terms of Use and the End User License Agreement but the rules are the same no matter how you term them. Blizzard also has the right to change these rules whenever it updates the game (see Terms of Use item 12). So this may be out of date later, please read both documents yourself so that you understand what you are agreeing to! (During my reading I have discovered a healthy fear of the Ban Hammer, which is why I am now the proud owner of a second WoW account in my name!)

The important bits are as follows:

You do not own your online account, Blizzard does.

All you own are the game disks. All your characters, your gold and your items are property of Blizzard. If Blizzard decides for any reason to take away your online things, they can.

You can find this bit in the Terms of Use under number 7

NOTWITHSTANDING ANYTHING TO THE CONTRARY HEREIN, YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT YOU SHALL HAVE NO OWNERSHIP OR OTHER PROPERTY INTEREST IN THE ACCOUNT, AND YOU FURTHER ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT ALL RIGHTS IN AND TO THE ACCOUNT ARE AND SHALL FOREVER BE OWNED BY AND INURE TO THE BENEFIT OF BLIZZARD.

And number 8

BLIZZARD MAY SUSPEND, TERMINATE, MODIFY, OR DELETE ACCOUNTS AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON OR FOR NO REASON, WITH OR WITHOUT NOTICE TO YOU.

This is not to say that they will take away your account– you normally have to do something to bring yourself to their attention before they start enforcing things. But be aware that ‘I didn’t know’ or ‘but person X, Y, and Z do it too’ are not valid excuse for why you are breaking the rules. Not to say that Blizzard runs around ban-hammering people for the slightest offense. They seem to be pretty even-handed from what I’ve seen on the forums and on the various blogs, but don’t count on their good nature!

An online account can be used by ONE person (and a minor child)

This is the bit that confused me, and the reason for this post. I had been under the assumption that if I my household had two people and two accounts that this meant we had two active accounts, usable by either of us. Blizzard was getting two subscriptions for two people, all was well! … Except not so much.

I ran across this issue when I hit a post about a divorce where both of the family’s accounts were in one of the spouse’s names. They were trying to move one of the accounts to the second name and couldn’t find instruction on how to do so. Their question was answered almost immediately with: ‘Don’t talk to Blizzard, they will ban you! You can’t share accounts!’. Which was rather unsettling news for me. I had been using my spouse’s account to play around with dual-boxing, as he is the kind of person who wanders way from WoW for months at a time. I figured since we were paying for two subscriptions, we might as well use them both.

So I went digging in the Terms of Use and EULA…

From the Terms of Use, number 6:

You may not share the Account or the Login Information with anyone other than as expressly set forth herein.

And from the Blizzard Support Page on Account Sharing:

Our Terms of Use prohibits the sharing of accounts except in the situation where a parent or guardian authorizes access to one child.

But oddly, the way the Account Sharing page is worded, it sounds like the main concern is for security of the account and not the sharing itself. (Which would be why I had though the two people – two subscriptions was a valid account usage).

I found a thread on the Blizzard forums that touched on this where the general consensus among the players seemed to be that unless you were brought to Blizzard’s attention for doing something else wrong, the account sharing rule was to deal with times when the person you were sharing the account with got you in trouble. But depending on Blizzard to not enforce their rules really isn’t something I’m willing to risk, as this is a game we both enjoy playing and have put time into leveling our toons (which we apparently don’t technically own. *sigh*).

Yeah, but if you don’t do anything wrong you’re safe, right?

Not so much.

First off, it would be very VERY easy for Blizzard to tell that both accounts were being used by one person. Dual-boxing is obvious to a computer, even if sometimes other players can’t seem to figure it out. The same key presses sent at the same time (with a little lag) = one person, not two. Plus Blizzard reserves the right to monitor your computer and it’s internal bits right in the Terms of Service, Item 17-B:

WHEN THE GAME IS RUNNING, BLIZZARD MAY OBTAIN CERTAIN IDENTIFICATION INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR COMPUTER AND ITS OPERATING SYSTEM, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION YOUR HARD DRIVES, CENTRAL PROCESSING UNIT, IP ADDRESS(ES) AND OPERATING SYSTEM(S), FOR PURPOSES OF IMPROVING THE GAME AND/OR THE SERVICE, AND TO POLICE AND ENFORCE THE PROVISIONS OF THIS AGREEMENT AND THE EULA.

A little bit scary, no? Although Blizzard has no way of knowing who is using which computer to log in, so in theory I could play any of the toons on any of the three accounts without too much worry… just as long as I’m not playing them at the same time. But really, if I can’t have enough alts with two accounts, then I’m doing something wrong. Hobby != Life.

But if your spouse stops playing, can’t he give the account to you?

Nope. As per above, Blizzard recognizes only ONE user of each online account. This is the person whose name is on the account. The name on the account cannot be changed. (Except for a legal name change of the account owner, and folks have said it’s not worth jumping through the hoops until you have to). If the owner of the account stops playing, they can give the game disks to another person, but they cannot transfer the online account. So if you leave the game, give all your stuff away, unless you are planning on coming back. Otherwise it goes to the big digital graveyard in the net.

From number 11 on the Terms of Use

Blizzard does not recognize the transfer of WoW Accounts or Blizzard Accounts (each an “Account”).

From the FAQ on account transfers

We do not support the transfer of characters between friends, guild mates, or family members.

So it looks like Stringtheory will be on her own for now. Thankfully she is only level 16, so it will be easy enough to level up an alt on the new account to keep Overdraft happy. (Or, alternately, wait until my spouse has some free time again so they can team up for old time’s sake!)

Which means part of this weekend will be spent playing around with the new account (and the new room for alts!), so look for some more posts in the near future!

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!

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