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U.S. sanctions against Iran hit hard this month when they took out World of Warcraft servers with no recourse for fans of the online game.
The makers of the game, Activision Blizzard, told Iranian users that due to U.S. sanctions they would no longer be able to access the game which is kept on U.S. servers. The sanctions prohibit the company from doing business with Iran, reports CNN.
Not only can't Iranian users access the game, they can't get their money back either.
The company recently tightened up its policies in an effort to better comply with U.S. law. That resulted in Iranian users being kicked out of the game. Those same laws prevent them from refunding money to any Iranian users, an employee wrote in an online message.
Money belonging to residents of a sanctioned country cannot be returned until the U.S. Treasury Department signs off on it, according to CNN.
They offered to lift the ban as soon as U.S. law allows. But it's possible U.S. law didn't even plan for this.
The general picture of sanctions is that they prevents necessary goods from reached the target country. Things like foreign aid and oil are generally the target of these measures.
Online video games generally aren't something you think of as part of the deal.
The story grew big enough that the U.S. Treasury Department weighed in, reports Mother Jones. The Department said they didn't intend to include video games in the sanctions and had never directly asked Activision Blizzard to kick Iranians off the World of Warcraft servers.
Intended or not, the company's response was probably the right one. Just because they weren't told to comply with the law doesn't give them a free pass.
But their policy may change soon. The Treasury Department noted that it would consider a license request from the company if they apply for one. That would allow Iranian World of Warcraft players to dive back into the highly addictive game.
For now the servers remain blocked for World of Warcraft users in Iran. Whether the game's developers will attempt to get special permission to flout the sanction of Iran remains to be seen.
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