Thanks to U.S. trade sanctions that limit American entities from doing any business with Iran, Blizzard has decided to axe offering World of Warcraft in the country. So while nerdery is universal, massively-multiplayer time-wasting will no longer be available for Iranian geeks in search of magical questgasms.
Blizzard posted the announcement on a battle.net forum thread speculating about Iranian censorship of WoW:
Our team has been watching this thread closely, and we understand the desire for more information about this situation. Blizzard Entertainment cannot speak to any reports surrounding the Iranian government restricting games from its citizens.
This also prevents us from providing any refunds, credits, transfers, or other service options to accounts in these countries. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes and will happily lift these restrictions as soon as US law allows.
Iranian gamers, who still have access to the battle.net forum, have more or less reacted with acceptance to the decision, but many are pissed that Blizzard still sold subscriptions and whatnot for the game, especially since the company says it can’t legally offer refunds. “Blizzard had full knowledge that this was going to happen,” wrote one poster according to the Guardian. “But what did they do? They continued to accept subscriptions and MoP pre orders.”
As far as censorship on the Iranian side is concerned, The Verge got in contact with one forum poster who shed light on the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance’s crackdown on games:
A user on the MMO-Champion forums mentioned his inability to access World of Warcraft, and posted a photo of a government pamphlet detailing offensive content in the game (seen above). We contacted the user, who identified himself as Siavash A., a freelance journalist residing in Tehran. Here’s his rough translation of the Persian text:
* Promotion of superstition and mythology
* Promotion of violence due to too much violence (I’m not exaggerating this is exactly what they wrote).
* Abolishing the deformation in sin.
* Demonstration of inappropriate clothing and slutty outfits for female avatars.
As U.S. sanctions on Iran have tightened this year, it’s interesting to see who those sanctions have trickled down to all facets of life. Perhaps there’s a bright side though: maybe this will spawn an Iranian DIY gaming scene, which I for one would love to see.
Follow Derek Mead on Twitter: @derektmead.