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Linux / Wine

TLDR:

  1. There are tens of thousands of Linux/Wine Diablo 3 players.
  2. Only 4 of them were banned.
  3. Whatever they were banned for is completely unrelated to Linux or Wine
  4. They were either cheaters or ran something else that turned up false positive by Warden.
  5. If they were innocent, then they are pretty much screwed without possible help.

I’ve been wondering what the fuss is all about since I’ve been playing Diablo 3 everyday on Linux using Wine (except for a 3 day vacation break in Phuket), and I have not yet been banned.

There’s been forum posts going around alleging that Blizzard has been banning Linux users using Wine to play Diablo 3. Since it’s posted in the Diablo 3 General forums and a Blue has responded to it, the thread has naturally became filled with trolls and retards. Amongst all the rubbish there are some accurate information which I will summarize here together with my experience and analysis as a Linux user that has been using Wine to play World of Warcraft and Diablo 3.

The forum post had links to various new sites that alleges that Blizzard has been banning Linux users, and pointed to the Diablo 3 Winehq appdb page as their source. Winehq appdb is a database of Windows application which have been tested against Wine. Users user appdb collaboratively to report if their Windows application work with wine, issues they faced, solutions to work around the issues. Developers also use appdb (and the associated issue tracker) to debug issues with Wine and to fix the issues for future versions of Wine.

The appdb page for Diablo has a thread where the Blizzard ban has been discussed, and 3 users have reported that they were banned. They are william, Marcus Meng and Mitch. I looked around for other cases of Linux users being banned and the only other one I’ve found was a PlayOnLinux user on this thread where fabioshot (and Mitch, presumably the same one from winehq appdb) claims to also have been banned.

PlayOnLinux is a software that includes Wine and automatically configures Wine to work with specific games that need tweaking to work well with Wine. For Diablo 3, this will presumably mean PlayOnLinux will include a version of Wine with the AcceptEx and the Direct3D modechange bugfixes as well as the setarch workaround the Warden issue with >4GB RAM and the taskset workaround for microstutters.

Now we need to look into context of the number of Linux users playing Diablo 3 on Wine. PlayOnLinux claims that there are at least 30000 users using PlayOnLinux to play Diablo 3. PlayOnLinux users are of course only a subset of Wine users use PlayOnLinux, so we can safely assume that the number of Linux users playing Diablo 3 on wine should number in the TENS OF THOUSANDS. This is only a small percentage of the millions of Diablo 3 players, but still a significant number of players.

Only 4 confirmed cases of Linux/Wine Diablo 3 players being banned out of tens of thousands of Linux/Wine Diablo 3 players should pretty much make it obvious that not only are Linux/Wine users are not being targetted for bans, there is no false positive issues where Linux/Wine gets falsely identified as a cheat. These 4 cases are definitely isolated cases unrelated to Linux/Wine, which can only mean 2 things:

1. These players were cheaters, and were either lying about using Linux/Wine or were running a cheat program on Linux/Wine
2. These players were running some other application/services/processes on Linux/Wine which has been falsely identified by Warden as a cheat

I’m not going to judge which of the above is true, it’s really Blizzard’s word against the players, and it could go either way. If the first one is true, then the players got what they deserve, and I wish all the worst for them for stirring up all these crap in the first place. Unfortunately, if the second is true, there is probably nothing that can be done to save these players.

Several years ago, World of Warcraft players using the Cedega variant of Wine to play the game in Linux all found themselves banned.  Blizzard initially claimed that they were cheats, but after being contacted by Transgaming (the company that made Cedega) and doing further investigation, they found that they were actually false positive, and reversed the ban and crediting the banned accounts with 20 days of game time.

In this case, there were thousands of banned users that were backed by a company. What chance would 4 isolated individuals have? It doesn’t help that he can’t really find out more about why these 4 were banned. Bashiok writes:

“It’s company policy not to discuss account actions with anyone but the account holder, or their legal guardian if applicable. It’s an issue between us and them. Trust me, it’d be much easier on me to just post exactly what they did, but we feel it’s important to honor the privacy of our customers, and that’s a policy I personally agree with.”

Now, I agree with this privacy policy, but the truth is the affected customers themselves do not have access to the reasons why they were banned beyond being accused of using a cheat. What would definitely help against false positive is Blizzard providing the customers with the name of the process that was detected and what cheat program Warden thinks that process was. This would allow innocent players to find correlation with other falsely banned players to identify the particular software that has been falsely identified as a cheat, possibly allowing the owner of the software to contact Blizzard (like Transgaming did) to help right the wrongs.

Of course, from Blizzard’s point of view, doing this will likely give the cheat writers an advantage against Warden that can and will be exploited. So really, if these players were innocent, I’m pretty confident that they are totally screwed.