Blizzard confirms restrictions against Iranian WoW players

US trade sanctions force policy change for popular MMO, Iranian government reportedly cracking down on games

Blizzard has restricted access to World of Warcraft in Iran due to trade sanctions introduced by the US government.

Hundreds of Iranian gamers turned to the forums last week complaining of being unable to access the game. The main thread for the discussion had already reached 100 pages when Blizzard issued its official response, which placed responsibility for the move on government policy.

"Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens," the statement read. "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."

The sanctions also prevent Blizzard from issuing refunds, credits or transfers to the affected countries. Blizzard noted that it would be, "happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows."

An earlier report on The Verge suggested that the restrictions apply to all games, and possibly a more pervasive move by the Iranian government against online games.

The Verge acquired an allegedly official government document from an MMO Champion forum user claiming to be a freelance journalist. The document was released by a branch of the Iranian government's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance at a press conference held on August 14.

It contains descriptions of various transgressions within WoW, including the promotion of superstition, the promotion of violence, and inappropriately dressed female avatars. The journalist claimed that its purpose was to offer, "examples of the means [in] which western propaganda is used to poison the mind of [the] youth population in Iran."

Other games cited in the document include Call of Duty 4, Assassin's Creed, Second Life and Guild Wars.

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Latest comments (10)

Meelad Sadat [a]list daily editorial director, Ayzenberg Group5 years ago
I'm paying $4 a gallon for gas. Thank goodness the embargo is working.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game5 years ago
If it helps, we pay 1.40 per litre which works out about $8.25 per US gallon. I wish I could pay your four dollars.
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Meelad Sadat [a]list daily editorial director, Ayzenberg Group5 years ago
Andrew, if you factor in our healthcare system, i think i'm paying $10 a gallon.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ Meelad To be fair, "free" (they pay for it in taxes) British healthcare can be pretty terrible for non-emergency situations, according to numerous UK friends. Procedures that would be scheduled and completed in a week in the US can take many months in the UK.

Also, as far as I'm aware these sanctions were recently introduced, and have nothing to do with oil. They are a deterrent against Iran furthering their nuclear programs, and sanctioned by the UN.
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Kingman Cheng Illustrator and Animator 5 years ago
Adding to what Nicholas is saying some people have to wait for a year. And of course people have died because of this. Adding to the fact A&E over here, they're being told that they can only accept people if they're actually dying. So cut your finger and bleeding isn't stemming? You're on your own sunshine! Head has fallen off? Yeah come in for a chat.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 5 years ago
Oh, it can't be THAT bad. Hell, here people have committed minor crimes to get jail time so they can get free health care (only to not get jail time in some cases because of overcrowding or a sympathetic judge) . That's pretty messed up, i'd say.
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Andrew Animator 5 years ago
Re, the NHS, I agree wholeheartedly with Nicholas, and have experience which backs it up.

And yeah, our petrol is disgracefully expensive. THe government tries to encourage us to use public transport by making it prohibitively expensive to drive, not I don't know, making public transport affordable and reliable!

You can't make something good by making something else worse.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 30th August 2012 11:17am

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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd5 years ago
@ Greg The truth is no system is perfect... and the grass is always greener. There are huge problems with American healthcare, but there are huge problems with ALL healthcare. Taking care of your sick, injured, and infirm is one of the greatest remaining challenges of the modern world, and while there are various good ideas and attempts at resolving this, no one has it perfect.

I absolutely respect some of the advances the UK (and for that matter Canada) as made in this respect, but everyone has a long way to go before there's a magic bullet for healthcare. That said, we should also all keep working at it! No moving backward, no thinking "good enough." This is something that will have lasting implications for the future of the human race, and we should always be striving to improve it.

And that's the end of my soapbox completely unrelated to this topic or gaming in general lol,.
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany5 years ago
Most of my Iranian friends have been using proxy servers since... forever?

This measures will do little to no difference (And happy for it; I'm tired of common people always being the ones paying for what politicians do)
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Robert Aiking Product Manager, InnoGames5 years ago
Blocking access without informing the users why, and then finally offering the information only in a forum thread seems like fairly poor customer service to me. On the other hand, the argument could of course be made that those players are no longer customers....
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