MMO For Kids Shutters After Hacker Fills It With Nasty Swears

A screenshot of the MMO with censored text laid over the top of it.

Image: KingsIsle / Steam / Kotaku

Kid-friendly PC MMO Wizard101 was released back in 2008 and for the past 14 years, it has quietly chugged on, successfully staying afloat while many other games have shut down. But recently, this old MMO found itself thrust into the spotlight after a series of bizarre and expletive-filled in-game messages began popping up for players. And fans believe an angry developer is to blame.

Wizard101 is a free-to-play MMO on the PC that is primarily aimed at children and is presented as being family-friendly. It’s a game you might have seen commercials for back in the day. It’s also one of those games that you likely had completely forgotten about until just now and are both shocked to remember and more shocked it’s still a thing in the year of our lord 2022. But things weren’t so family-friendly recently in the enchanted world of…(quickly looks up the Wizard101 wiki) The Spiral.

As spotted by PC Gamer, last week Wizard101 players logged in and found a series of angry, nasty messages crammed into the game. Some of the messages complained about low pay or bad bosses, while others just, ahem, criticized the game. Some were just slightly vulgar, like one pop-up notification that simply said: “dick and balls.” Meanwhile, one very popular message among players allegedly said “The next world is my boss’s asshole.” That seems like a…shitty level. (Don’t throw stuff at me, please.)

Eventually, this all led to the game being shut down for a bit on September 16 while the devs presumably fixed things up and got rid of all the assholes, dicks, and balls.

Players took screenshots of these messages and shared them on Reddit while also theorizing that “Server Dude” (their nickname for the hacker) was a disgruntled employee. This at first seemed plausible, but the theory seems to have been squashed by Wizard101 devs KingsIsle Entertainment.

Posted earlier today, a new statement from the studio apologizes for the “inappropriate” messages. It also claims that the in-game “broadcast system” was “illegally accessed” and used to post messages “as if they were written by a KingsIsle employee.” The rest of the statement doesn’t say who may have been responsible for the hacked messages, but the studio confirms that no other systems were hacked and that it has added more security to its broadcast system in an effort to prevent this kind of thing from happening again.

Kotaku has contacted KingsIsle for more information about the situation and who was behind the hack.

It truly seems like, in 2022, no one in the video game industry is safe from hackers. We recently saw GTA VI leak thanks to a hacker. And now Wizard101 has been hit by (likely) a different hacker. I imagine a bunch of different video game studios and publishers are having meetings right now about security and how to better protect themselves from future hackers.

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