NCsoft Europe cracks down on Illegal Private Servers

NCsoft® is once again cracking down on illegal private servers and iCafes providing services/access to these illegal servers.

It is interesting to note that here in the Philippines, the iCafe business was "saved" by the Online Gaming Industry and helped it boom. The reason - no game licensing fees. Online Games were also said to have become very popular because there is no piracy, however, the mere distribution of illegal private server installers is in itself an act of piracy. The number one supporter of this modern piracy are the businesses that was saved by the online gaming industry - Internet Cafes ("iCafes").

How ironic, just go from one iCafe to another (be it a residential iCafe or an iCafe chain), you will see support for Ragnarok Online private servers, not only that, there are also private server support for Mu Online, Lineage® II, World of Warcraft, Gunbound (imagine that, a private server for a free-to-play online game), and Priston Tale (to mention a few). These iCafe owners are tolerating such activities in the name of "business" without realizing that they are killing the local online gaming industry.

The question now is: Do the iCafe industry still need the online gaming industry? I wonder, if the online gaming industry shuts down, will these hundreds and thousands of iCafes still survive (with illegal/pirated private server support)?

Below is the Press Release from NCsoft.

NCsoft®, the world-leading, publisher of massively multiplayer online games such as Guild Wars®, Lineage® II and City of Heroes®, today announced that it was stepping up its fight against the growing menace of intellectual property theft. This action comes as a direct response to the rise of illegal online game servers throughout Eastern Europe, particularly in Greece and Russia where NCsoft’s fantasy-based online role playing game, Lineage II, is extremely popular.

The fraudulent servers in question are being used by players playing at home and in internet cafes, but such unauthorised servers often feature – or require users to download – illegally modified and potentially harmful game data, thereby changing the intended online experience.

NCsoft's European office has identified several prominent illegal servers across Europe and is in the process of taking action against individuals and corporations deemed to be in breach of international copyright laws. In a lawsuit that was commenced last year in Greece, NCsoft successfully obtained a court order against Internet Cafe business, 'e-GLOBAL' following which four of its cafes were raided and illegal software was seized. This led to the shutting down of illegal servers on which pirate copies of Lineage II software was loaded. Georgios Katostaris – Chairman of the Board and Managing Director, Constantinos Zygouras – Vice-Chairman of the Board and Managing Director, Athanassios Dobros – Deputy Managing Director and Dimitrios Koutsoukos – Administrator of the company under the name 'INTERNET DYNAMICS LLC' have all been made personal defendants to the proceedings that are continuing in the Greek Courts in which NCsoft is seeking damages as well as criminal remedies.

"Illegal game servers, such as those operating from e-GLOBAL, have a hugely negative impact on both NCsoft Europe and its customers," commented Max Brown, NCsoft Europe's Sales & Operations Director. "They seriously affect the player's experience of our products and rob the company of potential revenue that is used to further enhance the player experience on official servers. NCsoft's loss in revenue from e-GLOBAL's operation is estimated in excess of six million Euros. We are defiant in our resolve to stamp out theft of NCsoft's intellectual properties and are prepared to take the strongest measures to do so."

NCsoft has a proven track record in combating illegal servers, having worked with the FBI in November 2006 to shut down a substantial unofficial Lineage II server run by US-based website, L2Extreme.com. Following multiple raids across cities throughout the US, L2Extreme's fraudulent servers – which claimed to support 50,000 active users – were taken offline, as was the L2Extreme.com website.

Note however that L2Extreme has been in operation for some months already under a different name, it is a cat-and-mouse game! The playing field? Planet Earth! *sigh*