I’ve read quite a few suits like this over the years, and usually it’s about the in-game terms of service being violated, or the unfair competition element of the cheating software. But under California law, Activision’s lawyers say, “defendants committed violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”). […] by conducting and participating in an enterprise engaged in racketeering activity.”
Those individuals knowingly conspired against Activision to sell cheats, the publisher claims, and ran a sophisticated operation aimed at undermining the COD series. And now Activision wants all the money they made from this and then some.
Activision’s explanation of why this is a scam is worth reading, as it shows in outline how these scam resellers operate at scale.
“The Enterprise is a well-coordinated multi-level marketing machine. Defendants work together to continually sell licenses of Fraudulent Software directly, as well as recruit reseller Defendants. A network of resellers and resellers Defendants perpetuated the same steps as through thousands of instances of marketing, sales, distribution, and support regarding the Cheating Software against many separate US customers.”
So EO sells the cheats, but it also has a network of agents selling the cheats on its behalf (who get a cut). “Defendants operate under a common set of standards and rules. Resellers purchase licenses of Cheat Software in bulk, and then multiply marketing and sales of Cheat Software through their own advertisements. After selling their wholesale stock, Reseller Defendants follow the same pattern of returning revenue. to the Enterprise, retaining a portion of revenue for themselves.”
Activision claims that “thousands” of such transactions have occurred in the United States and “thousands more” overseas.
Activision’s lawyers then provide a list of shell companies involved in EO before going on to name various individuals, most of which are located in Germany, although there are also individuals in various US states, the UK, France, Spain and the Netherlands. I won’t reproduce all the names because there are absolutely dozens and it would be a bit of a meaningless list, but it is a bit of fun to have the various “Doe” defendants Activision includes in the suit but could not. identify: “Activision is informed and believes, and on that basis asserts, that Defendant ‘Big Pile of Mush’ is an individual residing in Europe.”
The three “masterminds and the driving force” identified are defendants Valentin Rick, Leon Schlender, and “Croatlo”. These individuals are primarily responsible for the development of the software, the EO website and the finances. Additionally the suit names Valentin Rick’s mother, Regina Rick, as providing “administrative, financial, legal, and other consulting services for the EO Enterprise.”
No jokes about basements. Then the kicker: Activision wants not only damages and costs, but all the profits obtained by the cheating company, which will be worked out at trial but estimated at least to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It also says that money is not enough: these individuals must be “ordered and restrained by the court”, which means the granting of permanent injunctions against further acts of “unfair competition” against Activision. It wants the cheat software shut down, copies of all EO software given to Activision for “seizure or destruction,” and basically whatever else it can get.
This is of course only one side of the story, and the individuals behind EO have yet to defend themselves. They probably shouldn’t have done so: “The defendants engaged in a pattern of online ‘trolling’ of Activision and its counsel, such as creating fake accounts in the name of Activision counsel, posting false messages purporting to be from Activision counsel, or using the names of Activision’s counsel in their advertising.”
Activision is asking for a jury trial, and certainly is fully doing so for these individuals. Interestingly, the earlier part of the suit mentions the damage that cheat software like this is doing to Activision and the COD brand, and the publisher’s lawyers say it’s because of companies like EO that there are negative social media posts and press articles. about the game’s cheating problem. . So it’s nice that all those COD fans complaining on Twitter know that someone is taking notice, to which point the suit also claims, “Activision was able to identify and ban hundreds of thousands of accounts using cheat software in the COD Games in just over the past. year.”
The bigger publishers are certainly becoming more legally aggressive over cheaters and other forms of wrongdoing surrounding their games. It’s a strange thing to see, because these kinds of shady companies have seemed like a part of computer gaming for as long as I’ve known it: we’ve all seen the ads, and comforted ourselves knowing that adversary X must have been there. aiming As this suit makes clear, however, businesses like EO are not brave rogues but organized and sophisticated businesses dedicated to making money. jeopardizing another company’s product, and a whole host of experiences from other players. Is it still mafia? We’re about to find out.