They were all running mods that let them automate away the tedious grinding that is so integral to the way that MMOs incentivize players to devote thousands of hours to their products.
According to a World of Warcraft mod, more than 100,000 players received a six-month ban for using "bots" — automation software.
Blizzard, the company that owns Warcraft, installs a spyware program called Warden with its games, which searches players' computers for banned software and reports it to the company. The game's terms of service require players to grant the company permission to examine, copy and transmit all files on their computers. Blizzard has used the courts to defend the legality of this software and the enforceability of these terms, successfully suing a rival software vendor for making an automation add-on, arguing that the company had violated its terms of service.
Blizzard Puts Over 100,000 Cheaters On Ice In Epic 'World of Warcraft' Banning Spree [Paul Lilly/Hot Hardware]