A 28-year-old man who threatened Blizzard employees with violence after his Heroes of the Storm account was silenced has been arrested, charged and may face jail time, the Justice Department has announced (via Polygon)
Stephen Cebula, from California, was reported by Heroes of the Storm players for racist slurs and threats of pedophilia and violence, and his account was suspended. It was after that he took to Facebook to message Blizzard.
“Careful Blizzard…” he wrote. “I live in California and your headquarters is [sic] here in California… You keep silencing me in Heroes of the Storm and I may or may not pay you a visit with an AK47 amongst some other ‘fun’ tools.”
20 minutes later he wrote: “You keep silencing people in Heroes of the Storm and someone who may live in California might be inclined to ’cause a disturbance’ at your headquarters in California with an AK47 and a few other ‘opportunistic tools’… It would be a shame to piss off the wrong person. Do you not agree Blizzard?”
Blizzard handed over the messages to the FBI and a search warrant was issued.
During the search, Cebula told FBI agents he had wanted to give Blizzard “a sinking feeling that they should be worried”, and used the phrase “opportunistic tools” to make their “minds wander”. He named AK47 because “it seemed like the scariest weapon”.
He later admitted to having violent sexual fantasies about young children, including his five-year-old niece who lived at the residence (along with two other young children) and he was put under arrest.
Social media accounts belonging to Cebula expressed an interest in serial killing, and in a previous encounter with police Cebula said he had read books on the subject.
In other words, the Blizzard threats aren’t an isolated incident. Nevertheless it’s for the threats that he will be sentenced on 26th July. The maximum penalty is five years and a $250,000 fine.
Blizzard introduced new player-reporting tools to Heroes of the Storm last autumn in an effort to curb abusive behaviour. It’s a byproduct of intense online competition, although Overwatch – Blizzard’s big new game – doesn’t suffer as badly from it.
If you need a palette cleanser after reading all that, why not gawp at our gallery of lovely Overwatch fan art.