Organised crime targets online games

Written by Ryan Garside

August 17, 2006 | 12:54

Tags: #crime #hacker #hackers #mmorpg #of #online #playing #role #rpg #warcraft #world

Companies: #game #microsoft

Despite games depicting criminal activities, such as stealing cars, killing people and bullying children (okay the last one has been thrown in to be topical) - very little has been heard about real organised crime operating within the games themselves.

However, earlier this week Microsoft warned gamers that hackers may be attempting to attack their systems in an attempt to gain access to user's accounts. Once the hacker gains access to the account they then sell all the hard earned valuables, such as gold, weapons and armour before finally flogging the actual character itself.

The initial assumption is that hackers are using eBay to sell on the characters, with many precious, rare and expensive items from games like World of Warcraft going on sale there. Microsoft's warning was made at Gamesfest, a conference in the US, by Dave Weinstein:

"Those of you who are working on massively multiplayer online games, organized crime is already looking at you."

He highlighted that one of the major problems is the lack of knowledge police have about crimes taking place in games:

"The police are really good at understanding someone stole my credit card and ran up a lot of money. It's a lot harder to get them to buy into 'someone stole my magic sword."

Interestingly, at the moment there are no game-content insurance companies. If your magical weapon is stolen in World of Warcraft there is no concrete policy for going about gaining compensation. Who knows; maybe in the future you will pay companies an annual charge to cover all your virtual equipment.

Do you worry that all your hard work in an online role playing game could be stolen? Will organised crime spread past piracy in the games industry? Let us know your thoughts in the forum.
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