In brief

  • Call of Duty: Warzone players have complained of accounts being stolen.
  • In some cases, hackers are demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin.
  • Players say that Activision Blizzard isn’t being very responsive in helping.

Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Warzone has been one of this year’s biggest games, launching in March and presenting a battle royale shooter alternative to Epic Games’ Fortnite. However, the game’s popularity has also made it a bigger target for hackers.

Motherboard reports today that hackers have been compromising players’ Warzone accounts, and they are demanding ransom payments in Bitcoin to return the accounts to their rightful owners.

While Call of Duty: Warzone is free to download and play, Activision Blizzard sells a rotating selection of premium items that players can purchase by buying in-game currency with real cash. Serious players have poured in potentially hundreds of thousands of hours into the game this year, especially during the pandemic, and it’s possible that some players have also spent hundreds or thousands of dollars in Warzone as well.

That can make user accounts particularly valuable for hackers, either to sell off to other players who want an account at a higher level or with more purchased items included, or to return to the original owners in exchange for a ransom payment.

"If you wants our helps to prevent to leak ur deta [sic] and information and bank account etc, and help to gets your account back clarity need pay 400$ in below address,” reads one message from hackers that was relayed to Motherboard. A Bitcoin address was included.

According to the publication, that address has received 1.2 BTC to date, or just over $12,000 as of this writing. While it’s unclear whether those payments came from Warzone players, the transactions range from between $20 and $2,600.

Some accounts were likely compromised by using leaked passwords from other sites and services, for those users who use the same password across multiple logins. According to the report, Activision has thus far been unresponsive or unhelpful to the players that Motherboard spoke with. Meanwhile, Epic Games has rolled out an extensive guide on what to do if your Fortnite account is compromised or hacked.

Activision Blizzard announced in August that Call of Duty: Warzone has racked up 75 million players in its first five months of release, and that the game was a key driver in the company’s $500 million year-over-year quarterly increase in digital spending (up to $1.59 billion).