Blizzard has confirmed the temporary banning of thousands of Hearthstone accounts that were found to be making use of botting software to automate gameplay. The botting programmes allow users to effortlessly earn gold to buy new card packs, as well as unlock cosmetic rewards. Some owners of the software have even achieved the game's ultimate Legend rank by cheating in this way.
The statement, posted on the game's official website, begins: "We've recently banned several thousand Hearthstone accounts that were associated with the use of third-party programs that automate gameplay, otherwise knows as "bots" or "botting." These accounts will be banned until 2015. As we've stated, fair play is at the core of the Hearthstone experience, and cheating and botting will not be tolerated."
The popularity of botting has increased in recent months, and Blizzard's most recent announcement was preceded earlier this year with a warning that players adhere to the spirit of fair play while the publisher monitored the situation.
Popular Hearthstone streamer Trump - who you may recall was beaten by Eurogamer's Wesley Yin-Poole back in April - recently encountered a bot at work. Take a look at the highlights video below to see how it all looks in action.
Blizzard usually wields a pretty stiff stick when it comes to account suspensions, and typically favours permanent account bans for players caught using automated software in titles like World of Warcraft. In this instance, the Hearthstone bans will remain in effect until an undisclosed date in 2015, although Blizzard warns that similar breaches of the Terms of Service from here on out will result in permanent account closure.