Having an account banned in online games is one of the harshest punishments a player can receive for violating the developers’ rules of conduct. In certain cases, a person can receive up to three temporary suspensions before losing the account. However, some companies prefer to remove users from the game on the first offense, without any guarantee of defense.
The problem with adopting a no-tolerance banning system is that there is a chance that innocent people will end up being unfairly punished. This happened to Luiz Victor “ArcanjoPro” Arcanjo, 22 years old, former streamer and player of Free Fire. He had the account disabled by a Garena error, but managed to regain access after filing a lawsuit against the company.
In the following lines, I tell the story of Archangel’s banishment and recall other situations of permanent exclusions in Free Fire, League of Legends and PlayStation Network that ended up in court. I also explain how to identify an improper ban and in which cases it is possible to go to court to recover the account.
Archangel was banned from Free Fire for “barrel hack”
Archangel’s banishment was just one of the many punishments meted out in Free Fire every day. In April of this year, Garena’s Battle Royale banned about 1.3 million players within a two-week span. According to the developer, all these accounts were disabled for using hacks in matches.
It’s likely, however, that some of these players didn’t cheat, but ended up getting caught by Garena’s automatic hack detection system for other reasons, just as Archangel did last year and others who also filed lawsuits against Garena. developer.
To the Techblog, Archangel told how his banishment happened in Free Fire, as well as the details on the account recovery process by the Court. Just before his in-game profile was deleted, in June 2020, he had received his first salary as a streamer on the defunct NimoTV and was starting to professionalize.
“At the time, I was playing a random game and a guy showed up using the barrel hack. He was a player who evaded the anti-cheat and managed to kill everyone who was in the match simply by blowing up a barrel of oil”, explained Arcanjo. “In addition, he was able to transfer the complaints he received to the other players who were playing”, he concluded.
The “barrel hack” cited by Arcanjo was never officially commented on by Garena. But, on social networks, players of Free Fire reported having encountered the same cheat in several matches. On Twitter, the profile @GarenaFFBrasil posted a video showing the malicious program in action.
Guys, don’t play Ranked, Classic, Rush Hour, Custom Room and other modes that contain Barrels. New Hack where Hackers ban your account by exploding Barrel pic.twitter.com/nrEPoCdF9h
— Garena Free Fire Brasil News (@GarenaFFBrasil) June 2, 2020
Upon receiving the notice that his account had been deactivated, Archangel tried to contact Garena by email more than once, including showing evidence that he was not using illegal programs in the game. He said that the company always sent the same automatic message, saying that the profile had been banned for use of hacks and would not be reactivated under any circumstances.
After dealing with several equal answers, Archangel thought about giving up and letting go of the Free Fire as a career as a content creator. “They not only banned the account, they also blocked the IMEI from my cell phone. So I couldn’t create another profile to try to play or anything,” reported the streamer. That’s when a final solution emerged: taking the case to the courts of law.
In the process, the streamer’s lawyers presented all attempts to contact Garena and asked the company to prove the player’s use of the hack. The developer was unable to gather the evidence, claiming that it would be necessary to do a detailed forensics of the matches. Due to lack of evidence, the judge ordered the bill returned.
Garena reactivated the profile of Arcanjo a few days after opening the case, but the action is still running in the Court of Justice of Pernambuco (TJPE) under number 0000085-43.2020.8.17.3200 to guarantee the payment of compensation for moral damages.
Blocked PS5 and bans in LoL e also stop in court
Here in the Techblog, we report other lawsuits filed against game companies that unfairly punished users. Sony has already suffered two defeats in the São Paulo State Court of Justice (TJSP) for banning two PlayStation 5s from PSN after owners sharing PS Plus Collection games with others.
It is also worth mentioning the case of the player of League of Legends who won a lawsuit against Riot Games at the Rio de Janeiro Court of Justice (TJRJ). In the process, the author managed to request the transfer of skins and items purchased with real money from a banned account to a new profile.
Both in the lawsuits against Sony and in the lawsuit against Riot Games, the bans were judged as abusive for violating Article 39 of the Consumer Protection Code (CDC). In both situations, the judges considered that the players had been placed at an exaggerated disadvantage, as they would need to pay again for a console or skins to resume playing.
Bans can be considered financial punishments
For lawyer Pedro Amaral, permanent exclusions in online games work as a way to financially punish players instead of protecting the community from cheaters or malicious people. This is even more serious in instances where companies are not transparent.
Developers will say they are saving the community by banning toxic players, but in the same email warning of the punishment, they invite those same people to come back through other accounts. So the only practical effect of the punishment is to delete the account and take back to the company the unused balance of virtual money — which could be Riot Points, Diamonds, etc.
Pedro Amaral, partner at Amaral e Bohrer Advogados and founder of Tomaz.app.
Amaral believes that it is necessary to review how punishments are applied and think about the idea of pedagogical teaching, to help people improve. “Any punishment in a consumer relationship has to be done transparently. Consumers have the right to have information and, like any person in that country, to defend themselves,” he explained to Techblog.
As much as the occurrence verification system is automatic, Riot Games still makes room for players to contest punishments. “If you think we have made a mistake, please contact us with the details and we will review your case, although we may suspend your account during our review. You can also challenge our decisions”, explains the company.
This means that in problems related to League of Legends, Valorant or any other game of the producer, it is possible to try to resolve the issue directly with the company within 30 days before going to court. In fact, Riot Games does not limit users’ legal rights to file a lawsuit if they need to.
Due to Riot Games’ caution regarding punishments, cases in which bans on LoL or Valorant are contestable. According to Amaral, the company uses the recidivism rule — that is, players can receive up to three lighter and more transparent punishments before being banned. In this scenario, the lawyer said it was very difficult to try to recover the account through the courts.
Furthermore, the developer guarantees not to punish accounts for mistake. “All suspended accounts show clear evidence of cheating. Using third-party apps or applications from unofficial sources will result in account suspension.” However, some punishments in Free Fire they stop in court, like Archangel’s, and are reviewed for lack of evidence.
Garena also does not make room for the player to defend himself from punishment. “An account suspended for evidence of cheating will not be reactivated under any circumstances,” warns the producer. For Amaral, this type of situation can be taken to Procon or even to Justice, if the player has been mistakenly excluded by the automatic cheating detection system.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable to have an algorithmic punishment, automatic, where there isn’t even room for the player to defend himself. This to me is completely wrong and any punishment in this context is invalid. You cannot punish a person without giving him the right to full defense. This is in the Federal Constitution”, concluded Amaral.
I got my account banned! And now?
Before looking for Procon or filing a lawsuit, it is important to contact the developers to try to resolve the situation directly with them, explaining the event and showing evidence of innocence. It is possible to use the companies’ official communication channels, such as support tickets, email, social networks and even telephone assistance.
If the company does not clarify the reason for the ban or does not prove the violation of the rules, even after several messages, the player can look for legal means to try to recover access to the account and the virtual money that was retained in the deleted profile.
Renata Reis, service coordinator at Procon São Paulo, explained to Techblog that all users of online games have a basic right to information, guaranteed by the Consumer Protection Code. If the person considers that he was placed at a financial disadvantage by the developer, he can contact the Procon of each state to try to solve the problem.
When a consumer questions a ban and says it is improper, and the company cannot clarify the punishment or prove that there is any illegality in the act performed by the player, we can work with the lack of information, which is a basic right of the Defense Code of the Consumer, and with the abusive practice, which is the article 39.
Renata Reis, service coordinator at Procon-SP.
Procon, however, may not be able to close a deal between the player and the developer alone. In this situation, the person can gather all the evidence and file a lawsuit in court, showing the attempts to contact the companies, the evidence of improper banning and even the notification of Procon.
For lawyer Pedro Amaral, it is important that players seek to pursue their rights, if developers do not clarify the reason for the ban or refuse to present proof of the infringement. In addition to the option of hiring a private lawyer, those who do not have good financial conditions can contact the Public Defender of each state.