World of Warcraft, the popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game, was cut off in Iran by Blizzard, which said the move was done to comply with U.S. trade sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
“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,” Bizzard said in a statement on its official World of Warcraft forum site earlier this week.
“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 statement reads.
It added that refunds, credits, transfers, and other services cannot be provided to accounts in Iran or other countries where U.S. sanctions are applicable.
The Irvine, California-based company said it will “happily lift these restrictions as soon as U.S. law allows.”
There were postings on other forums which suggested that Iran may have also recently blocked access to Warcraft and other games, including Starcraft II and Diablo III, which are also made by Blizzard.
One Iranian user released a salvo of criticism against the Iranian government and its Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei over the matter, showing a screenshot of what appears to be a statement issued by the government proclaiming the ban. One of the reasons the government gave for blocking the game is that it “[promotes] superstition and mythology” and promotes “violence due to too much violence,” the user said in translating the post.
Blizzard said it could not confirm reports “surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.”
According to a report from the BBC, which first reported on the blocking, hundreds of World of Warcraft users based in Iran last week posted messages that they cannot play the game, which is still currently the most popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game in the world, with 9.1 million subscribers as of August 2012.
The users said they could not access World of Warcraft directly but could play the game via proxy servers that have IP addresses outside Iran.
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