Bungie’s general counsel certainly keeps busy, and recent years has seen the studio take an increasingly aggressive approach towards would-be cheaters, hackers, and malicious jerks. It’s perhaps no surprise that a studio which is one of the pioneers of a truly live service approach to game development should also take point on dealing with some of the inevitable problems around bad actors, and this particular target is a doozy.
A lawsuit filed in Seattle district court sees Bungie taking aim at one Luca Leone, who the Destiny 2 developer alleges of creating multiple accounts to evade bans, livestreaming himself cheating, and threatening the developers’ employees.
The suit alleges that Leone streamed himself on the Twitch channel “miffysworld”. On December 6, 2021, Leone created an account for which he used the display name “!”, which would be banned on May 22, 2022 after he streamed his use of cheating software. But Leone had come prepared and had preemptively created a second account called “GOT 2 GET IT”.
The suit then details a chain of events with Leone creating new accounts as quickly as Bungie could ban them: the studio was clearly following his actions closely. The names of these accounts included “TRAP$TAR MIFFY”, “ugl1kgwj4kn7emj,” “why,” and “gerogetwo.” One of the sequences of names provides insight into Leone’s mindset at the time: “Bungie” was banned, and replaced by “bungiemad,” which was banned, and replaced by “hahahalolxd,” which was banned.
There are various other accounts, and the suit claims Leone created others which Bungie did not identify and ban. The suit in fact details how Leone boasted about Bungie not being smart enough to stop him: “my point is more bungie will NEVER be able to stop me if i persisted in my actions.” The bragging from Leone’s accounts was public and often included Bungie accounts, such as a tweet reading: “7 bans in and still going strong @Bungie battleye is shit took me 30 seconds to get around your silly hardware ban.”
Then the suit moves on to more serious allegations, claiming that that on May 18, 2022, Leone tweeted an image of Bungie community manager Dylan Gafner’s employee badge, alongside the hashtag #NewProfilePic. In the replies to this tweet Leone writes “i just realized i’ll be moving to a place that’s 30 minutes away from dmg [Gafner’s initials],” before following up that tweet with one saying “he is not safe.”
Leone tweeted about Gafner on other occasions, and the suit also alleges him suggesting he would commit arson on Bungie HQ and telling the studio to “KEEP YOUR DOORS LOCKED.” He posted a composite image of Bungie community managers and, as the suit makes clear, the concerning part is that by this point Leone had made clear he’d moved to Washington State (Bungie HQ is in Seattle).
Finally, the suit goes on to detail how Leone sold accounts and in-game emblems on a well-known online marketplace for such things, quoting his adverts and sales pitches. It then describes how Bungie caught him. Much of it is IP tracking and what seems to be Leone’s occasional forgetfulness about covering tracks, but our mastermind made several other errors, including using an email address associated with the fraudulent activity while ordering some Bungie merch to his name and home address.
The suit summarises its identification of Leone thusly:
- The email account is associated with Leone’s Destiny 2 activity, his OGUsers activity with fraudulent emblem and clan name sales, and his full name and his physical address;
- All of Leone’s Destiny 2 accounts can be associated with one another, and with Leone;
- Leone’s Inkcel Twitter Account hosts his harassing threats, his fraudulent emblem sales activity, and evidence of his cheating from his known Destiny 2 accounts;
- The Telegram account is associated with both Leone’s fraudulent emblem and clan name sales activity at OGUsers and his real name.
Having made what looks like a comprehensive case against Leone, Bungie’s lawyers then prepare the big guns. The studio is really going after this guy: cheating is one thing, however unwanted, but threatening Bungie staff is a whole other level of seriousness.
Bungie asks for a jury trial for the case. The studio wants damages of $150,000 for each count of copyright infringement, which in my reading of suit relates to Leone’s various accounts violating the user agreement: which would make that 13 counts, or $1.95 million. On top of that it asks for a laundry list of damages including punitive damages, pre-judgement and post-judgment interest on all damages awarded, and of course for Leone to be landed with its costs and attorneys’ fees.
As well as the money, Bungie wants Leone to be “preliminarily and permanently enjoined from harassing, stalking, or otherwise engaging in unwanted or unsolicited contact with Bungie, its employees, or Destiny 2 players.”
There are undoubtedly elements of fandom that don’t know where the line is and frequently overstep it, and it’s notable that this suit is happening at a time where developers are so often faced with harassment and threats from players of their games. What is clear from this suit, for example, is that Leone has an unhealthy interest in Bungie and its games: he’s doing this stuff while also buying Bungie merch.
We’ll keep an eye on the case and report on any further developments. A Sony studio going after an individual is never going to look especially edifying but, in some cases, the individuals do seem to have brought it on themselves.