Player Threatened Blizzard Entertainment with AK-47 Over Silence Penalty

Heroes of the Storm logoIn September of 2015, Blizzard Entertainment added a silence penalty to Heroes of the Storm. (Blizzard will soon be adding a silence penalty to World of Warcraft as well.) Players who earn a silence penalty lose the ability to chat with most other players. It is understandable that being silenced will irritate players who were being abusive in game. Even so, that doesn’t excuse the guy who decided to threaten Blizzard Entertainment with an AK-47.

According to the Department of Justice (Eastern District of California) website, a 28-year-old man named Stephen Cebula has been charged with “making threats to injure employees of the video-game company Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.” The post also says:

According to court documents, between July 2, 2016, and July 3, 2016, Cebula transmitted messages over the internet to Blizzard Entertainment, in which he stated that he “may or may not pay [Blizzard] a visit with an AK47 amongst some other ‘fun’ tools,” and “might be inclined to ’cause a disturbance’ at [Blizzard’s] headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other ‘opportunistic tools’..”. Cebula was arrested on July 12, 2016, and is in custody. He is scheduled to be arraigned July 26, 2016.

If he is convicted, he faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The Department of Justice website says: “The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The Los Angeles Times reported that in one threat, court records showed that Stephen Cebula wrote “Careful Blizzard… I live in California and your headquarters is here in California… You keep silencing me in Heroes of the Storm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK-47 amongst some other ‘fun’ tools.” Blizzard’s headquarters is in Irvine, California.

Players that earn a silence penalty in Heroes of the Storm receive it because they have been posting abusive chat, posting spam, cheating or botting, or doing things in game intentionally to anger the players on their team (like walking away from the keyboard). If you someday find that you earned a silence penalty, it’s ok to feel upset about it. Just be very careful about how you choose to express your irritation online.