Tobold's Blog
Thursday, June 19, 2014
 
Wildstar botters

Carbine pulled out their ban-hammer for the first time and banned a large number of botters. I can't be absolutely certain if that was the cause, but on the AH of my server the number of titanium chunks for sale dropped from 14,000 to 6,000 over night. Wildstar's Executive Producer Jeremy Gaffney said:
"(An aside, from a place of honesty here - I sincerely don’t understand the player that tries to level up by AFK botting - they make instanced Battlegrounds less fun, and we’re going to ban healthy percentages of them. This wastes money and time (both ours and theirs). And pisses you, the honest player, off. Lose-lose-lose. That being said, I don’t gotta understand the reasons behind such actions – they’re still going to get banned, we’re going to focus heavily on those going forwards.)
(Gold farmers I hate too, but at least I can understand the reasons behind their actions. They’re trying to make money by spamming, ripping off accounts, and gold, and wasting our support/dev time, which is unethical and borderline evil but at least rational. I really suggest not buying gold from them if you actually care about such things)."
I understand the sentiment and the ranking: If your goal is to do well in a game, using a bot is just plain cheating and completely defeats the original purpose of playing a game. On the point of gold farmers, I would be more careful with my language. If you call them "gold farmers", I don't consider their actions unethical or evil. Annoying, sure, but as they never actually accepted the premise of the game as being *a game*, but consider it as a form of making a living, I have a hard time condemning them. They don't "cheat", because they don't play, they work. Of course as soon as we talk about "account hackers", which is not totally the same thing even if there is obviously an overlap, we clearly get into the domain of illegality. But somebody who is just farming gold, with or without bots, and then selling it, with or without spam, isn't breaking any real world laws. In fact a gold farmer quite frequently does exactly the same actions as a regular player in need of gold, only they do it more intensively.

I strongly suspect that game companies hate gold farmers mostly because the gold farmers expose one of the big lies of virtual worlds: That the items and currency in these games are just pixels, a form of art protected by copyright, and not something of real monetary value to the player. The fact that there is an exchange rate, as well officially (CREDD for plat) as inofficially (dollars for gold farmer plat) suggests to any economist that we are dealing here with things that have real world value. Game companies absolutely hate that idea, because they fear that they could be held responsible if their actions lead to a loss of virtual goods. On the one side the game companies would love to extract a maximum amount of money from players who value virtual items, but on the other side they refuse any responsibility for guarding those values. If today someone buys a sparkly pony for $25, and tomorrow the game shuts down or patches mounts out of existence, shouldn't there be some sort of consumer protection for the hapless buyer?

Comments:
If someone levels up by afking battlegrounds I would deduce that there's something wrong with the leveling process. I mean, if you enjoy leveling you do it actively and not by afking. Afk leveling means that you want a top level character for some activity, but you're forced to go through the leveling, even if you don't care about it. This is a problem with the game, not with the player.
 
People will almost always choose the easiest path towards the maximum level.
 
I disagree with your point about why developers hate gold sellers so much. I think the first part is actually really simple: you don't want people to profit off of your hard work. The second part is that the best way to accumulate gold to sell is to hack accounts, which the game company then has to fix, which directly costs them time and money.
 
I used to work for an MMO game development company, and one of the reasons we really tried to get rid of the gold farmers is that they used to use credit card fraud to pay for their accounts. They obviously want to make a lot of money, so they want to pay as little as possible to play the game, so they either hijacked existing accounts of paid with stolen credit cards where possible.
 
I have no problem with the statement "credit card thieves are unethical and borderline evil". But as long as you can't say that every single gold farmer in existence is also a credit card thief, you can't just conflate gold farmer with whatever other type of criminal comes to mind.
 
The leveling is grindy and boring. Coming off games that dramatically improved the questing process like Guild Wars 2 i can't believe how painful it is to backslide into the WoW 1.0 questing model of Wildstar.

I've got my esper to 50 and even though the esper is pretty lackluster at the moment I have no desire whatsoever to level an alt. it's just too painful.
 
" you can't just conflate gold farmer with whatever other type of criminal comes to mind."

I am not a lawyer, but the following law is notorious for being overly broad and widely applied: In this case, using one's connection to Carbine's servers to obtain and sell gold is unauthorized by Carbine (a US company), so in the eyes of US law(Computer Fraud and Abuse Act), every instance of logging on to Carbine's servers is a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison for a first offence, plus fines and confiscation: "(A) a fine under this title or imprisonment for not more than five years, or both, in the case of an offense under subsection (a)(4)"

section (a) (4) reads "knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value, unless the object of the fraud and the thing obtained consists only of the use of the computer and the value of such use is not more than $5,000 in any 1-year period;"

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/1030#c

I haven't heard of a gold seller actually being prosecuted under this law, but in another case a US judge ruled that violating the TOS/EULA does count as "unauthorized access" under this law, so it's definitely my view that gold selling is a federal felony offense, just not one that the US attorneys bother to prosecute: http://wow.joystiq.com/2010/04/05/the-lawbringer-gold-sellers-are-criminals/3

http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/04/14/fbi-raid-university-of-michigan-apartment-over-possible-wow-frau

Interesting in that the FBI conducted a raid on US soil related to WoW gold selling, but light on details.

http://massively.joystiq.com/2008/02/02/blizzard-defeats-peons4hire-gold-farmers-in-court/

A settlement not a lawsuit, but still another data point, and as a funny aside, if you now enter peons4hire.com into your browser address bar, it redirects you to worldofwarcraft.com, so that's amusing.
 
Cheating / botting is also against the TOS/EULA. Thus the gold farmers would have to share their prison cells with all those video game cheaters out there.

Note that some companies with more sense of humor than legal counsel put things like claiming their customers souls in their TOS. According to you not handing over your soul in that case is a felony by US law. I don't think it would be wise to allow companies to actually make laws via such a shortcut.
 
Wildstar is interesting but it is very old school in the leveling....although to be fair it seems to be a bit faster paced than other games of like approach.

Either way I'm sticking with TESO, which stands out more and more as sufficiently different from the standard WoW-like to be worth my precious time.
 
The cheating part and the "real dollar value" part aren't separable.

The gold buyer buys gold to cheat. The real world analogue of a gold farmer is the worker in the illegal laboratory which produces steroids for athletes.
 
The gold buyer buys gold to cheat.

Then why would that be less unethical / borderline evil if the gold buyer uses CREDD to buy gold? Isn't that exactly the same, with the CREDD seller a cheater, and the CREDD buyer a gold farmer?
 
Easiest way to farm gold is to bot, especially if you have multiple accounts. That way one operator is looking after 10 simultaneous farmer toons.

I consider that cheating.
 
Tobold, do you honestly believe that there is anyone out there - anyone at all - who is farming gold and selling gold, but not botting, not account jacking, not using speedhacks/telehacks/etc., not using stolen credit cards, and not spamming? In short, doing absolutely nothing shady, just simply grinding gold and selling it for real money?

As for the "why is it cheating to buy gold from a spammer but not to buy a CREDD and trade it for gold?" - well, why is it cheating to pick up and ball and run with it in soccer, but not cheating in rugby? Rules of the game. Different games have different rules, some of them may seem odd, but they're the rules, and the very definition of cheating is "not playing by the rules".
 
"Isn't that exactly the same, with the CREDD seller a cheater, and the CREDD buyer a gold farmer?"

CREDD is the lesser of two evils. It doesn't matter how fun a game studio makes a game, people will want to buy in-game gold/plat/gil/ISK.

Those buying the CREDD may wind up botting, but they probably won't do other things like hacking and engaging in credit card fraud to get their subscription time. So while not ideal, CREDD will lessen the damage to the game.
 
I hate to post a bit off topic, Tobold, but as much as I love Wildstar, it gives me a headache. I dont know if its all the colors, the action that never stops or the stuttering framerates, but man, I can only play for about 2 hours before my head aches. Never had this problem in Wow.
 
Tobold, do you honestly believe that there is anyone out there - anyone at all - who is farming gold and selling gold, but not botting, not account jacking, not using speedhacks/telehacks/etc., not using stolen credit cards, and not spamming?

Yes, and there is even a book written about that.

Rules of the game. Different games have different rules, some of them may seem odd, but they're the rules, and the very definition of cheating is "not playing by the rules".

Way too simplistic. If there was multi-player shooter in which you could buy an official wall-hack and aim bot, that wouldn't make wall-hacking and aim-botting any less unethical. People hate Pay2Win because they consider it cheating regardless of official rules.
 
The CREDD/PLEX seller IS a cheater and the buyer IS a gold seller in the moral view.

Their activity is not liked, just tolerated as less dangerous. It's just like legalizing marijuana. No one in the countries where its legalized would advise his own kid to use it. But it's less harmful than buying crack in a dark alley from a criminal gang.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
As a possible answer to your question, most MMO companies don't acknowledge that the sparkly pony the player paid $25 for is, in fact, the player's property. My understanding of the TOS is that the player owns a license that can be terminated - players are merely paying to play, even items purchased with real money but exist only in the game world fall under that protection.

Been a while since I read the TOS though, blasted long-winded document that is!
 
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link



<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

  Powered by Blogger   Free Page Rank Tool