Blizzard is going to warn World of Warcraft multi-boxers, then it's going to permaban them

(Image credit: Blizzard)

Blizzard has issued A Policy Update for Input Broadcasting Software, which in English means "we've had it with the multi-boxers." Multi-boxing is a technique any MMOG player will be familiar with, even if you haven't done it yourself: a big group of avatars running about like a hivemind, under the control of a single player using thirdparty software.

There are various reasons players multi-box, depending on the game, but in World of Warcraft it's usually for resource-farming (gathering with 20 accounts then transferring everything to your main account) or on occasion a bit of good old player griefing. It can be funny to come across multi-boxers, just because it's something to see, but there's no doubt it's unfair to other players and can be a dick move.

Well, Daddy Blizzard has had enough of such nonsense. "We’ve examined the use of third-party input broadcasting software, which allows a single keystroke or action to be automatically mirrored to multiple game clients, and we've seen an increasingly negative impact to the game as this software is used to support botting and automated gameplay. The use of input broadcasting software that mirrors keystrokes to multiple WoW game clients will soon be considered an actionable offense. We believe this policy is in the best interests of the game and the community."

This obviously ties into the runup to Shadowlands, yet another fresh start for this classic and a perfect cutoff point for behaviour that, until now, Blizzard has left more-or-less unchecked. The blog post goes on to outline how players will at first be warned and, if this is ignored, Blizzard will begin to take punitive action that could result in a permaban.

"We will soon begin issuing warnings to all players who are detected using input broadcasting software to mirror commands to multiple accounts at the same time (often used for multi-boxing). With these warnings, we intend to notify players that they should not use this software while playing World of Warcraft. Soon thereafter, the warnings will escalate to account actions, which can include suspension and, if necessary, permanent closure of the player's World of Warcraft account(s). We strongly advise you to cease using this type of software immediately to maintain uninterrupted access to World of Warcraft."

This leaves a grey area for players who do things like sticking five characters in different windows and make them 'follow' the leader, but it's pretty obvious Blizzard's problem here is with the thirdparty software. Even then it's unclear what can and can't be done about it, but guess we'll find out.

I don't care much about multi-boxers: as long as someone's not outright griefing, why do I care if they're filling their boots with magic apples. That said, and whatever your feelings on the practice, at least Blizzard's being upfront about what it thinks, and what it's going to do about it.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."