World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard is the latest target of a lawsuit by serial suer (or professional plaintiff) Erik Estavillo.
Filed this morning in the Civil Division of the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, the civil complaint charges Activision Blizzard with “deceitful” business practices, as it “continues to maintain a harmful virtual environment to many of its customers by forcing them to follow the game’s sneaky and deceitful practices.”
Among Estavillo’s claims is that WOW is designed for a gamer “to walk or run at a calculated slow pace, resulting in the player taking longer to get where he or she needs to go in the game.” This slow pace, says the plaintiff, leads to a longer time needed to finish game play or quests, in turn leading to more subscription revenue for Activision Blizzard.
Estavillo also complains that faster transportation is not available until a player levels up accordingly, or purchases an expansion pack.
The plaintiff then likens his health problems (OCD, Agoraphobia, Panic Disorder, major depression and Crohn’s Disease) to the afflictions that ailed the late EverQuest gamer Shawn Woolley, who took his own life on Thanksgiving morning in 2001. Estavillo stated that he “doesn’t want to end up like Shawn did as he [Estavillo] relies on videogames heavily for the little ongoing happiness he can achieve in this life.”
Estavillo subpoenaed Depeche Mode founder Martin Lee Gore and actress Winona Ryder to provide testimony on his behalf regarding the subject of alienation.
Gore was subpoenaed because “he himself has been known to be sad, lonely, and alienated as can be seen in the songs he writes,” and Ryder because of her and Estavillo’s common interest in the J.D. Salinger book The Catcher in the Rye. Ryder would be able to, “explain the significance of alienation in Catcher in the Rye and will also testify to how alienation in the book can tie to alienation in real live/video games such as World of Warcraft.”
Estavillo is seeking punitive damages of $1.0 million and a court order that WOW implement changes that address the issues of his complaint.
Other lawsuits filed by Estavillo include one against Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA), following a banning from the PlayStation Network, and a recent suit that targeted Microsoft and Nintendo—the former over an Xbox 360 red ring of death and the latter over a firmware update that disabled his Homebrew Channel.