Blizzard Blocks Iranian Gamers from Playing Its Games

By Frank Lewis,
Last week, Iranian gamers suddenly lost access to Battle.Net and could no longer play World of Warcraft.

Initial reports blamed the Iranian government for blocking access after its Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, which dictates which mediais suitable for public consumption, all but decided that the Blizzard MMO along with other online games like Guild Wars and RuneScape had unacceptable content.

(Here is the full list of gamescited as containing "western propaganda" and will likely be disallowed from play in the country.)

Although it turned out that it was Blizzard itself who cut Iran from accessing the game this week as part of a stricter policy following sanctions from the US government.

"United States trade restrictions and economic sanction laws prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran. This week, Blizzard tightened up its procedures to ensure compliance with these laws, and players connecting from the affected nations are restricted from access to Blizzard games and services," said Blizzard poster Ludlespor in an official response.

"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," it added.

It seems Iranian gamers now face two huge hurdles when it comes to accessing World of Warcraft and other popular online and console titles - temporary prohibition from Blizzard and discouragement from their own government.

With the former, their hands are tied and can only wait for Blizzard to lift the block. But with the latter, it shares the burden with the rest of the world; plenty of other countries ban video gamesfor one reason or another, but mainly due to local sensitivities to violent and nudity content.

If and when Blizzard restores access, the usual workaround solutions of proxies and virtual private networks (VPNs) should be able to work. Proxies can mask their IP address and evade any government screens. VPNs, which are more commonly used to getting around college campus and computer office firewalls, can also be used effectively to establish connection.

Iranian gamers can also take the more extreme action of moving across borders to countries with a much more lenient policy on videogames. It is notable that Dubai, an emirate in neighboring United Arab Emirates, has a fairly active World of Warcraft communityin Kazzak server.

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