The ongoing conflict between the West and Iran took another strange turn today when gaming giant Blizzard Entertainment revealed the company has blocked access to Battle.Net for the nation of Iran.
Online gamers use the Battle.Net interface to manage their accounts for many of Blizzard’s most popular games including World Of Warcraft, Starcraft 2, and Diablo 3. They must also maintain an active Battle.Net account in order to be able to log in to their games and play.
Blizzard confirmed the action is being taken to meet the legal requirements of the United States government relating to the trade restrictions and economic sanctions imposed on Iran due to the continuing conflict over Iran’s nuclear program.
The company made the following announcement in response to requests for comments on the situation:
“We can’t speak to reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens. What we do know is that United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. We’ve recently tightened up our procedures to ensure compliance with those laws, which means we must restrict access to our games by players in those nations.”
The announcement was prompted by reports filtering in from Iranian gamers that their government, which follows an ultra strict version of Islam and uses Sharia as the basis of Iran’s Constitution, is cracking down on Iranian gamers.
Recently, the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance held a conference to announce the formation of the Islamic Revolution Game Designers Community. The meeting was sponsored by the Ministry, and it was held to denounce the influence of non-Islamic games.
Among the pamphlets distributed at the event was one proclaiming, “The video games are “examples of the means [in] which western propaganda is used to poison the mind of [the] youth population in Iran.”
One Iranian gamer and journalist, who goes by the online name of Siavash A., attended the conference and translated the contents of the pamphlet. Among the issues mentioned in the publication were the following:
1. Promotion of superstition and mythology.
2. Promotion of violence due to too much violence.
3. Abolishing the deformation in sin.
4. Demonstration of inappropriate clothing and slutty outfits for female avatars.
Blizzard made it clear in their announcement they were not bowing to pressure from the Iranian Government. Instead, Blizzard reiterated they are abiding by United States Government restrictions on trade, as stated in Blizzard’s own Terms of Service:
“The software … and/or the Service may not be downloaded or otherwise exported or re-exported into (or to a national or resident of) Cuba, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Iran, Syria or any other country to which the U.S. has embargoed goods.”
Iranian gamers will no longer have any access to Battle.Net, and Blizzard will not be able to export any of its products to Iran as long as the trade embargo remains in place. It is truly a sad day when innocent citizens are no longer able to play their favorite online game because of politics and disputes among nations.