They Helped You Cheat In WoW. Now They Got Sued And Want You To Pay.

A maker of bot software for World of Warcraft—apps that auto-play characters and level them up—has lost a judgment that shuts down its operation. The bot maker also owes $7 million to Blizzard Entertainment, and it's asking those who used bots like "Pocket Gnome" to chip in.

"We are very sorry that we can no longer offer our products and we understand that you may be concerned about this result," Ceiling Fan Software writes in a statement on its web site. "After more than 2 year of legal battles with Blizzard Entertainment to both pursue our right to operate and our customer's right to play WoW as they choose, we did not prevail in the suit."

Yet Ceiling Fan's own conduct acknowledged that bots like Shadow Bot and Pocket Gnome were against World of Warcraft's terms of service, and warned users that they risked having their accounts banned if they were discovered using them. The judgment, entered last week in federal court in California, noted that Ceiling Fan provided advice to users on how to avoid detection.

Bots pose a threat to the game's balance, which is why Blizzard forbids them in the game's terms of use, and why it has gone to great lengths to shut down bot makers. Blizzard went after the maker of one, called "Glider," losing a claim of copyright infringement but still prevailing, to the tune of $6 million. The suit against Ceiling Fan was brought in January 2012.

The judgment notes that Ceiling Fan made $289,000 from its botting operation, charging users a $25 start-up fee, then a monthly license of $8.99, plus another $2.99 for something called "Pocket Goblin." They sold about 2,000 bot licenses in all, collecting the money through auto-rebills of credit cards through PayPal.

"If you would like to make donations to help offset some of our outstanding legal fees, you may do so here," Ceiling Fan says in its statement, directing users to a PayPal link.

Kotaku has contacted both Blizzard and Ceiling Fan Software for comment. If we receive any reply it will be updated here.

Blizzard wins $7m in bot suit [GamesIndustry International]