Tobold's Blog
Friday, November 04, 2011
Now THAT is a banhammer!

Jagex reports that their new software to ban bots from the Runescape servers was so successful that player activity dropped by 60%. As 90% of these botters were playing for free that isn't much of a loss for Jagex, but in consequence they are merging server, bringing the total number down from 172 to 139.

I knew Runescape had bot problems for many years, but I wasn't aware of the size of the problem. If more than half of their server load came from bots, it is surprising that they didn't write that bot-removal software earlier. There is maybe in lesson in this story that games with a Free2Play business model are more susceptible to bots, because the botters can set up a lot of accounts for free.

On the other hand I've always said that the very best way to prevent botting problems is to make a game which isn't repetitive enough to be played by bots. Everybody wins!

It's not strictly about the number of bots, it's also about how the bots are programmed. When CCP banned 2% of their accounts, CPU time dropped by 30%. Because the bots are already unwanted and unauthorized use of the system, the only incentive for bot authors to "play nice" is to stay below the the threshold of detection. And if the bot detection methods are lacking, they can abuse the servers as much as they like.
Another way to look at it would be that you're not banning players. Runescape could probably benefit from something like Steam's VAC system.
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