Looking inside your screenshots

A story of digital watermarking, late-night coding and troll drama!

Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not secretly watermarking your screenshots

March 2021 Update: You can now own the original screenshot as an NFT here.

From 15/05/2007 (Patch 2.1.0) to 24/02/2015 (Patch 6.1.0) – i.e. for almost 8 years, Blizzard was (secretly) adding a custom, hidden, watermark on screenshots generated by the in-game capture mechanism of World of Warcraft (WoW). This is the story of how we found it.

You can read the original forum post here.

In the press:

[Destructoid]: World of Warcraft screenshots contain hidden user data

[Engadget (#1)]: Blizzard may be hiding information in your screenshots, but it can’t hurt you

[Engadget (#2)]: World of Warcraft hiding information in screenshots

[Eric Diehl]: World of Warcraft and watermarking

[Examiner]: Blizzard caught watermarking Warcraft players

[GameBreaker’s Legendary]: Legendary (The World Of Warcraft Show) Ep93: Buff Wizards! (from 1h11m11s to 1h16m42s)

[GameGuyz]: Ownedcore: WOW Screenshots May Leak User Information

[GamePolitics]: Report: Blizzard Can Track WOW Users Through In-Game Screenshots

[Geek]: World of Warcraft players discover watermark embedded in screenshots

[Hacker News (Y Combinator)]: Blizzard is secretly watermarking WOW screenshots

[HotHardware]: World of Warcraft Screenshots Are Being Embedded With Hidden Watermarks

[Kotaku]: There’s More Information Than You Think Buried In Your World of Warcraft Screenshots (also here)

[LockerGnome]: Why is Blizzard Watermarking WoW Screenshots?

[MegaGames]: Breaking: Blizzard Hides User Info In WoW Screenshots

[MyGaming]: World of WarCraft screenshots contain user information?

[NBCnews]: ‘World of Warcraft’ Maker Secretly Watermarks Screenshots

[Neowin]: Blizzard watermarks WoW screenshots with player info

[PC Gamer]: World of Warcraft may secretly include your account name and server IP in screenshots

[PC Games N]: Report: World of Warcraft screenshot tool imprints identifying watermark on screenshots; includes account name and server details

[PogoWasRight]: Activision Blizzard Secretly Watermarking World of Warcraft Users

[Press2Reset]: Watermark reveals user IDs and server IP addresses

[Softpedia]: Blizzard Caught Secretly Watermarking the Screenshots of WoW Players

[SticktWiddlers]: BREAKING: Activision Blizzard Secretly Watermarking World of Warcraft Users

[Techspot]: World of Warcraft secretly embeds user data in screenshots

[TheDailyBlink]: The Zapruder Screenshot

[TheMarySue]: Say Cheese: Blizzard Covertly Watermarking World of Warcraft Screenshots

[TheSixthAxis]: World Of Warcraft Screenshots Contain Your User ID In A Secret Watermark

[Tom’s Hardware]: Is Blizzard Secretly Watermarking World of Warcraft Users?

[TyphoonAndrew]: Screenshots and Tin Foil Hats

[VG24/7]: World of Warcraft screenshots taken in-game reportedly include user account names, server IP

[WoWpedia]: Changing the screenshot format

[WoWWiki]: Watermark controversy


In forums:

[Bruce Schneier]: Steganography in the Wild

[DISQUS (GameBreakerTV)]: Big Brother

[Facepunch]: Activision Blizzard Secretly Watermarking World of Warcraft Users

[MMO Champion]: Blizzard adding almost invisible watermarks on screenshots

[NeoGAF]: Blizzard secretly watermarking World of Warcraft screenshots with user data

[Reddit]: Activision Blizzard secretly watermarking World of Warcraft users.

[RockPaperShotgun]: Blizzard Secretly Watermarking WoW Screenshots (Presumably For Years)

[Slashdot]: Activision Blizzard Secretly Watermarking World of Warcraft Users


In academia:

[Vienna University of Technology & SBA Research]: Piec, M. and Rauber, A., (2014). Real-time screen watermarking using overlaying layer. [online], p. 1.

[University of Nebraska – Lincoln]: Sharp, A.T., (2017). The Discrete Spring Transform: An Innovative Steganographic Attack. [online], p. 8.



[DiabloFans]: Watermark on diablo 3 ?

[OwnedCore]: Screenshot Watermark in Overwatch