'World of Warcraft' Maker Secretly Watermarks Screenshots
CREDIT: Blizzard Entertainment
It's come to light that computer game developer Blizzard is secretly keeping tabs on everyone that takes in-game screenshots.
Blizzard's secret watermarking scheme was revealed when a "World of Warcraft" (WoW) user who goes by Sendatsu told others to take a high-quality screenshot of an all-white screen and then sharpen the shot in photo-editing software, .
"Go below Dalaran in Crystalsong Forest," Sendatsu said. "You will get a better screenshot if you stick your face in the pure white trees."
What's revealed is a strange-looking "custom barcode," as Sendatsu calls it, that contains the account ID, a timestamp and the IP address of the server the game is hosted on. It does not include sensitive details like the account password, name of the user or the user's own IP address.
Why this is news now is a mystery. In a blog post, Sendatsu noted that multiple sources said Blizzard's practice of watermarking screenshots has been around as long the screenshot feature itself — since 2007.
That hasn't stopped players of the popular online RPG from crying foul, though. Many users are warning others not to use the in-game snapshot tool on Twitter, while others cite concerns about how the data could be misused or used by Blizzard to hunt down private servers.
Blizzard remains mum on the issue but for now, WoW players can set their image quality to 10 to avoid being watermarked. The highest-quality screenshots will not include the invisible watermark.