Thursday, April 29, 2010

Evidence that Blizzard supports boting

Meet Historyy. He is an interesting player. A DK created on Feb 22, 65 days ago. In his first day he completed the DK questline, that contains fifty-something quests. However - according to his achievements - he did not quest any more, or at least not enough to have 100 quests completed. He also didn't bother to do a single instance or BG. Nor he killed anyone in world PvP.

No, he is not inactive. Despite the lack of quests, instances, BGs, he reached lvl 80 only in 14 days. Nice job! After that he instantly equipped some blue BoE items and went on his merry way, grinding skinnable monsters in Sholozar Basin. In his 65 days of life, according to his statistics, he managed to kill 139K monsters. My 2 years old mage who raids in blues killed 38K. Kungen, who cannot be blamed to be a lazy casual killed 250K in 5 years of intensive playing. So if Historyy keeps playing for 2 more months, he'll be the "guy who killed the most monsters ever".

Of course such title needs effort. While I obviously can't prove that he is online 24/7, I couldn't log in to my horde banker at any time (including the most weird) to not see our friend being exactly in the same place doing exactly the same thing.

What is this activity? He kills beasts in Sholozar, north of Nesingvary's camp. He skins them. He does it for a long-long time. After he finished, he returns to Mardan Thunderhoof, the gunsmith. Next to Mardan, he starts crafting frostscale leggings. A lot. Then he stands there some more time and leaves to kill more beasts.

He is eager to get more leathers. When a hunter sent her pet against him, he couldn't resist the idea to skin poor cat and attacked it, ignoring the dancing hunter and the healer healing the pet. For long-long minutes he kept attacking the pet. Strange guy!

Frostscale leggings cost 12 borean leather and sell for 5g 35s 64 at the vendor. If we assume that he is here since lvl 76, he must have killed at least 100K beasts, getting around 90K leathers (difference in scraps). That means poor Mardan paid him no less than 40K gold only for these. He surely also sold vendortrash. Since Sholozar monsters give Arctic fur with 1% chance, he gathered around 1000 pieces. These sell for 10G, so there goes another 10K.

He bought no fluff items from his fortune, he does not even have flying skill, so we cannot imagine why he plays that way. Socials will surely say "it's fun for him", but I'd say he is a goldfarmer bot!

So he was reported to the GM, who answered soon by saying he'll be treated according to the policy. 48 hours later Historyy is still decimating the beasts of Sholozar in the magnitude that would make Nesingvary look a casual.

Does anyone have doubts left that Blizzard officially tolerates boting? Again:
  • he was reported, so a GM must know about him
  • he does nothing but grind and sell for gold
  • he does not buy gear (beyond starter) or fluff from his gold
  • he is online 24/7
  • he does not respond to players attacking him in any way
I don't think there can be any more obvious bot. Any of the above activities could be found by a simple database scan. If Blizzard would give a damn about boters, he'd be banned on day 2. But the most shocking part is the report. I mean it's not just being utterly lazy about scanning the database. If a player reports the bot, Blizzard defends it, strike that, in the copy&paste GM answer openly states not to expect him to disappear and do not even bother reporting him.

Since we started ganking, the bot-infestation became obvious. It's not just the goldfarmer-bots. Half of the lvl 80-es we kill are quite strange. Yesterday we camped a warlock. I'm either so l33t to kill a T9 geared lock with autoattack only, or he was boting too. No, he wasn't AFK, AFK stays dead instead of ressing again and again.

It seems that only those don't bot who don't want to or believe that it has consequences. It does not. Boting is officially supported by Blizzard!


Update April 30: Historyy is online again!

PS: feel free to start a lvl1 hordie on Maghteridon-EU and add Historyy to your friend list to see how much time the "investigation" takes.

74 comments:

Anonymous said...

To be absolutely fair, they ban in waves. Most sane companies do.

Massive, sweeping tsunamis.

Banning one does very little. Banning a thousand? Slightly more.

Carson 63000 said...

As the anonymous poster said, Blizzard bans in waves, not one botter at a time. This has been the case as long as I've known, certainly predating WoW, back to the days of Pindlebots and Maphackers in Diablo 2.

Andru said...

What Anon said.

Blizzard does not 'officially' do anything.

They, however do ban in waves.

On Twilight's Hammer, there used to be a lot of bots.

I noticed them when I was flying around doing my Frostbitten. However, from a time, I see less and less.

Once I even saw a GM interfere with a bot at the smashed temple in Storm Peaks. I didn't expect it, but he took action right then, teleporting the bot to some other place and then bringing him back.

I have no screenshots, however.

My guess is that you need less conspiracy theories and more real theories.

Ephemeron said...

To be absolutely fair, they ban in waves.

Indeed they do.

Lupius said...

I'd rather pay for a second account just to camp the AH. Program the farm bot to mail all trade goods to the AH bot, which floods the market until the price leather is like vendor price + 10%.

Or would that catch the attention of the GM because the botting is disrupting the market in a direct manner?

Moochew said...

The reply from the GM is a copy and paste comment. No where does it imply that they condone botting, and in fact their "ban waves" show that they don't. It also states that investigation takes time, and not to expect results immediately. Why do people insist on thinking that their report will be addressed immediately it's reported. More likely your "botter" report is put into a queue for investigation by staff designated that job.

Unless you work for Blizzard support, you don't know their internal processes or timelines, nor how easy / hard it may be. As someone who has to interact with customer fairly reguarly, I get very sick of people who, with no proof or reason behind their claims, like to say how something is "easy", or seem to expect an instant response to a report. I highly suggest you read up on ITIL 3 practices, which I'm fairly sure Blizzard implement in their support centres.

ardoRic said...

You don't get scraps from Scholozar Basin beasts. If anything, he got more leathers, not less.

High level beasts sometimes drop more than one leather.

From what I can see in wowhead, Sholazar Basin beasts drop mostly exactly one leather. If the bot owner were smart, he'd send the bot to Zul'Drak where he could kill Gun'drak raptors who drop 1-3 leathers and can also drop the pet. The pet is nice for an extra boost in gold.

Maybe the concentration of beasts in Sholazar makes up for the nerfed drop rate... but I doubt. Doing the gundrak raptor circuit (where there are also some bats) you can pretty much always be killing a beast.

Gevlon said...

@Moochew: I'd understand your point if I'd report the lock. He is usually a legitimate player, just bots sometimes to farm gold for himself.

But I reported an obvious bot. No investigation is needed. He reads my report, peek into a log and press the ban button.

Also, again: such obvious bots should be banned without GM action, simply by a database scan during weekly downtime.

@"ban in waves" people: such bans are PR actions. The wave looks huge but it's practically nothing. 10K bots is nothing, but makes some noise in the blogosphere to make the people believe in "fairness". They could ban 10K bots every day just to keep up with their creation.

Waves are acceptable only if a new kind of bot is revealed and the anti-bot scanner finds these bots in mass after an update.

But here we are talking about a very primitive, 24/7 online vendoring bot. If there would be ANY bot scan, he would not exist.

Gevlon said...

@ardoRic: he does not go there exactly because of the pet. He does not need 10 angry kids reporting him.

Archangel said...

I was thinking the same thing about Blizzard. How did I come to strongly believe this ? For months I haven't seen any gold farmers on my server. At least not since the start of the ICC. But starting with patch 3.3.3. a lot of gold farmers popped up. And Saronite Ore again, rules the AH at 12-13g per stack. Tens and tens on stacks. So why now ? after what, like 6 months.

I thought that while guilds were progressing through ICC, Blizz didn't want to affect the game experience and risk letting the bots out there. But now the Lich King is dead, so in essence this expansion is somewhat over. Now Blizz wants more people progress through ICC and see it. So along with making the gear from Ulduar and ToC recipes cheaper and with the introduction of the Frozen Orb and Marks of Honor (random bg's) changes, I think the aim is to make people gain gold faster, have lower costs for items (gear, consumables etc.) so more an see and experience more content (ICC and Ruby Sanctum) till Cata arrives. How can Blizz better support this, even more ? By allowing the professional (read bots) gold farmers back in the game. Brilliant.

newauctioneer said...

You should really mindcontrol him into some sort of ditch or pit.

Lemontree said...

Banning in waves is great for PR but Blizzard does nothing to actually /stop/ botting. Think of it this way, if Blizzard catches botters and bans their IP, the botter would go away, which they don't.

But even more, if Blizzard does an IP ban, that botter stops paying monthly subscription fees, which means Blizzard loses money. However if Blizzard does a simple acount-ban, the botter will buy a new account and keep paying subscription fees. This is still profitable for the botter and Blizzard, and Blizzard can say that they are banning thousands of botters all the time.

Zazkadin said...

Although I don't believe that Blizzard secretly supports botting, I also don't feel they actively show a lot of effort fighting it.

I reported this bot that I followed similarly to Gevlon for months and it took at least 3 months before the bot was no longer active. Might have been banned or the botter just got bored and had moved on to new endavours.

I have also reported a long time ago the spammers who advertise a gold buy service every 30 seconds in /2 using the exact same message for over a year now and so far Blizzard hasn't been able to filter these messages. I am still so naive as to zealously click 'report spam' every time I see these messages, with no effect whatsoever. If simple addons can block such spam, why can't Blizzard?

If Blizzard wants to keep up the image that they condone botting and gold selling, they should make more visible the results of their actions. For the common player it is totally obscure if and what they are doing.

Chewy said...

Sorry, being greedy on my responses but just a quick one @lemontree

IP banning is a waste of time, it only takes seconds to find an open proxy and re-appear with a different IP address.

Anonymous said...

Here is my guess why they might have delayed banning the bot: by waiting, Blizzard can see which other characters/accounts the bot is connected with. In other words, they might be able to catch a network of bots by letting this one go for a little while.

Anyhow, I greatly approve of this approach to the botting problem. It names names and publicly identifies problems that Blizzard has failed to address. It will be very hard for them to ignore this sort of thing as long as you point it out in a high-visibility manner such as this.

Sven said...

"Banning in waves is great for PR but Blizzard does nothing to actually /stop/ botting. Think of it this way, if Blizzard catches botters and bans their IP, the botter would go away, which they don't."

It's pretty easy to get around an IP ban - either use a suitable proxy or an ISP that dynamically allocates IPs.

The bot-makers are smart and have thought about counters to much many of the supposedly obvious solutions.

Gobou said...

I don't get the point in wasting time to report.

Bots are farming leather, selling to vendors, creating gold with no impact toward the economy, then sell this gold to morrons. Morrons goes to the AH and buy our things.

So at the end of the day, bot are farming gold for goblins.

Anonymous said...

Jesus. I've spent 3 months farming skins on my dk, trying to get enough cash to start ah trading. I'm up allday and night, just trying to keep awake and grinding. Then hunters attack me and call me a bot because I'm too tired to see the difference between a pet and a mob.

I'm just an honest joe, doing what I can.

Anonymous said...

You may know a lot about economics, but you know nothing about the inner workings of Blizzard.

I work in the IT department of a small business (50 employees) and even here it often takes a few days to implement administrative changes. You have to get the approval of different department heads and so on.

Do you really believe that an important decision like banning a player can be done by any low level GM? If that was the case there would be a lot of random bannings, because people misuse "power" all the time. You wrote it once yourself, the lower the chance is to get caught, the higher the probability that a person does something illegal.

No account would be safe if everybody at Blizzard could ban with the push of a button.

Oxymustard said...

At all the '' They ban in waves '' guys backing Blizzard up.

The banwaves do NOT hurt the goldsellers at all. Gold is made and sold within days with many money laundring accounts on realms where sometimes real raid guilds get paid to safekeep the gold in form of cheap ah mats.

The bans they do usually take out 50-60k accounts at once, this is simply for good PR. '' Look at us , we have just banned over nine k baddies '' meanwhile letting them roam free for months.

'Investigating' does NOT take months, it would be a much larger blow to the goldsellers if the mod simply smacked that banhammer after every investigation. Banning one every day > Banning 30 in a month. All that I have stated are facts, I used to sell gold.

Bobbins said...

I seem to remember from somewhere in america that second life thingy that someone took legal action over being banned for a violation of the terms something to do with real estate.

I would expect Blizzard would have a legal responsibility to enforce the terms and conditions of the 'game' so has not to devalue other players virtual work/resources.

Does that make sense as Blizzard frequently 'devalues/inflates' items with its own patches?

Inquisitor said...

@Bobbins: Read the ToS you click through every patch, sometime. Blizzard are careful to assert ownership of everything in the game - all they let you do is play with some of it, occasionally. Those items are never 'yours', so devaluing them has no legal effect on you. They are explicitly prohibited from RL currency trades, so even if, in reality, you might be able to make money from them, the legal fiction is that they are worth nothing.

Azzur said...

@Anon:
You may know a lot about economics, but you know nothing about the inner workings of Blizzard.

I work in the IT department of a small business (50 employees) and even here it often takes a few days to implement administrative changes. You have to get the approval of different department heads and so on.

Do you really believe that an important decision like banning a player can be done by any low level GM? If that was the case there would be a lot of random bannings, because people misuse "power" all the time. You wrote it once yourself, the lower the chance is to get caught, the higher the probability that a person does something illegal.

No account would be safe if everybody at Blizzard could ban with the push of a button.


I was about to respond to Gevlon's post with an elaborate counter-argument... but this post states a very important point(which I didn't even consider).

I've got other reasons as well, such as the increased chance of "false positives" if they increased the aggressiveness of their ban-style.

Okrane S. said...

Nice post, I lold.
Its not surprising that Blizzard tolerates goldfarmers. Without them the items we need would be so scarce that the game economy would suffer.

And, gratz on keeping away from the wave of emo-blog-posts commenting about the cataclysm changes. Some bloggers have absolutely no quality control over what they post.

gustav/katu/ghozm said...

I've been a GM (for another game) and must say the process of banning people for botting is a bit more complicated than it seems. First of all you need to confirm that it is a bot, a player reporting that it is is not enough evidence for a ban, this will take time and you should remember that GMs usually have more to do than just follow one player suspected of botting. Banning someone without knowing for sure that the player has broken the rules could be more devastating than letting him/her play a bit more, while making sure. I'm not surprised at all that this player still has the account up and running. And lastly, as so many are saying, they are probably banning in waves, to save time and work. I would not treat this as "evidence" of Blizzards support of botting.

Gevlon said...

@Gustav: I'd understand your point if I'd report a real player who bots 3-4 hours a week to get a rare drop and plays 20 legitimally. It's hard to investigate and false positive is possible (maybe he is grinding while watching TV and don't even notice the cat belongs to a hunter).

But we are talking about a 24/7 bot with no PvP, no instances, no quests. He should be banned by screening robots without GM action.

Anonymous said...

I can't understand people are defending Blizzard by saying they ban in waves. Why wait for months to ban a bot just so they can do loads together, if not just for show? All it does is make it easier for the botters. Instead of being banned every few days and needing a new account they only need to go to the trouble of getting a new account every few months if that. It certainly doesn't discourage them. I can only assume more subs for Blizzard and cheaper AH prices lessens the incentive to ban them.

Anonymous said...

"But I reported an obvious bot. No investigation is needed. He reads my report, peek into a log and press the ban button."

Wrong, because whatever method they're using to bot without detection will be fixed by the people who developed it, when they realize it doesn't work. You can either kill one bee, or take your time and set the hive ablaze. Sure, the bees might irritate you while you're preparing, but at least at the end of the day you'll have taken down as many as humanly possible.

Anonymous said...

GMS can and will ban if they so choose to. They don't need approval, if you are doing something against the ToS then they can ban you right there on the spot, google Athene's ban from the begining of WotLK. And no you can't file any lawsuit if you get banned, if you have read the ToS you would know that Blizzard has the right to ban your account for whatever reason.

Ketchup said...

The going price for gold on Magtheridon EU right now (according to IGE) is 3EU for 1k or 27EU for 10k gold.

Lets be generous and say this bot made 100k gold in ~60 days (leather, vendor trash, cash from mobs) then this translates to ~300 EU in 2 months, retail price.

If you subtract the subscription cost, power bill (could be cheap in some countries), and the gold seller site cut, 150 Euro a month seems like a lot of effort for not much reward.

(Of course these numbers are an informed guess, at best.)

Nerdrager said...

Banning in waves is not (well not only) for pr reasons, but because it makes botting more risky.

It's easier for bot developers to adapt if bans are handled right away and it's easier for botters who keep themselves up to date (apoc's blog and some others are interesting readings)to avoid turning on their bots if they read that there are bans in action on us servers while they're on eu ones.
And you can bet that the guy with 40-50 wow sessions driven by bots (I'm sure there are people with far more accounts running) does what's needed to protect his investment.


The warden can also be updated without server restarts or any downtime (even client side, you really don't know when it's updated without memory scans and other "hacker magic skillz") and most bot makers say it's a very well made piece of software.

We can say that blizzard tolerates bots to a certain extent, but they do this in order to catch more fishes with their nets.

Vinnz said...

Blizzard don't support botting (they don't publish any botting programs, neither provide help regarding how to program/install a bot) , but they actually don't seem to put much effort to fight it.

I guess you're just using the overstatement to get attention. It's just a common trick used by socials on any forum. Happy to see that you can learn rhetoric tactics from your enemies.

Anonymous said...

As some other replies have mentioned: they let the bot continue tp track as many of it's associates as it can.

The bot doesn't keep the Gold. What's the point of that? Blizzard stays silent, tracking it's distribution to other accounts, and so far.

Banning the bot does nothing to the BENEFITOR of it's actions. Track and trace the gold from character to character to, finally, it's master... and BAM! You've caught the *person* violating the ToS.

Anonymous said...

Why banning instantly is inferior to banning in waves:

You ban instantly:
Instant report of ban on botting forums, warns the rest.

You ban in a wave after collecting botters for a while:
You get much more as they won't know their bot got discovered until the wave hits them.

Also the psychological effect on normal people is to be considered:
fear is a strong motivation. So show them the big numbers, show them what will happen if they try =less botters in the "normal" player group.

Anonymous said...

Had no time to read all comments, but I know I read somewhere that after the first ToS violation you get 48 hrs of suspension, after the second you get 72hrs. After the third, a week, and revokeing anything in connection to the reported problem(money, achievement, loot etc). After the fourth you get a perma ban.

Ingmārs Daniels Meļķis said...

ehm... and what?
Even if Blizzard does support botting I don't really see a problem why is that actually bad. bots like these as said before doesn't have any impact oh market prices so it doesn't even matter (and if there are bots who do bot AH, they are making the prices go down, making it better for everyone*.). And if there is a bot farming my spot, then I simply go to another one (there always be one, because the want the players to be able to get the money too, so they can buy bots auctions). Perhaps my logic is "wrong" to you, but it's what I personally think - I don't actually care.

* - with the exception of people trying to go for the gold cap, goblins, and people like that.

Klepsacovic said...

@Okrane: "Some bloggers have absolutely no quality control over what they post." You're saying this in a post that makes the same "the bot was not instantly banned therefore Blizzard supports bots" post type that we'd see from retards on the forums.

MetaManu said...

I wonder, would you pay extra $ every month to pay a full time "bot kicker" GM, or the manpower to make a automated bot kicking scanner?

If not, ignoring bots is a good business decision from blizzard. No value i can see for the costs it'd imply.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Vinnz is right. At best, this is evidence of tolerance or apathy. But this is not evidence of support.

Blizzard seems to rely on Warden to catch botters rather than eyewitness testimony, or having GMs monitor player activity (there probably are not enough GMs to make this a worthwhile effort). So maybe when Warden gets wise to the new programs, we will have another wave of bans.

Anonymous said...

Because they've done nothing in 48 hours, I wouldn't say they support it, I'd say it's the typical Blizz slow to react policy.

Big Heals said...

Blizzard needs to focus on buyers and not sellers. Without users there would be no pushers.

As long as there is a market, there will be sellers. You won't win this war by fighting them.

Auto-detection and banning just requires better bots.

Anonymous said...

I quit wow last year for several reasons, the large amounts of bots being one of the major reasons.
After not playing for several months a friend msn'd me to say she was surprised to see me playing again, only I wasn't. Somehow my account was stolen and was being played by a person that spoke little english.
I couldn't understand how I could have been keylogged as I hadn't entered that password for many months, but I put in my ticket and my friend notified the person with my account that I had done so.
The person using my account had explained that they had paid a lot for the account and did not know it was stolen, only they know if that was truthful! After they were told I was trying to get my account back my friend reported that my DK was now just a mining bot.
After 3 weeks I got my account back, they restored all my characters and gold (only 17k). I lost my bank guild and all the stuff from the bank, but its just pixels :P
Well, all I can say is bots are rife, and a lot are using stolen accounts. There was even one German guy with a load of cheap machines each running 4 copies of wow, botting for gold, and making a good living from it.
If there is real money to be made there will always be bots.

Micah said...

The GM is probably not trained to identify bots. It may be easy in this situation, but a huge company isn't going to base its operating procedures on edge cases. This GM probably clicked a button that sent you a form response and then put the item in a long queue to be reviewed by someone who is trained to identify bots. Expecting automatic scan-and-bans is not reasonable. Again, this is an edge-case.

Think about spam filters. This guy is the equivalent of "Buy cheap viagra from mexico," and a scan would certainly catch him. However most botters, like most spam, existed in a grey area where the probability is less than 100%. Where do you put the cutoff? How many customers do you wrongfully ban to get at potential botters? 1 legitimate customer for every 1000 botter is probably too many. This is why the careful eye of a human who has been trained to judge these situations is needed.

Nerdrager said...

150 euros a month it's good enough if you consider:

- for many people that amount of money is not insignificant (students, unemployed, etc.)

- in many countries you could get less than 500€ a month as a low level worker (eastern europe should have higher base salaries but not that much)

- you can multibox on a single computer several bots running different accounts on different servers; a 300€ computer (cheap dual/triple core from amd, 2 gigs of ddr2, 250gb hd and an 80-100€ videocard) should run at least 4-5 windowed sessions at 800*600 with low graphics. I'm throwing numbers from my ass, but you can check multiboxing communities to see what I'm talking about.


When you take into consideration that internet has no boundaries and the incomes can be very relevant for some people, it's obvious that you can't stop gold selling if there's demand even if you hire uber leet gms, the botters will come back in a couple of weeks with their brand new death knights.

tytalus said...

Has this information been posted to one of the WoW forums yet? Perhaps Blizzard could come up with a plausible reason for their inaction, or perhaps it could drive change in their administration.

Or perhaps I'm being overly optimistic...that's probably it. :) But no harm in trying.

Tonus said...

"Has this information been posted to one of the WoW forums yet?"

Examples like the one in Gevlon's post get posted in the WOW forums all the time, or at least used to. I remember people complaining about how they would report a botter and see it continue to bot the same area for weeks.

Whatever the reason, Blizzard does not typically ban bots right away, and sometimes it can take months before a bot finally disappears.

Anonymous said...

If they ban him right away, they can't figure out how to stop the botting program he's using to farm. If they leave him botting, and watch him, they might be able to stop him.

Stop one, sure, but what about the umpteen others who are using the same program to bot? This is why they ban in waves - they kill the botting program and ban all those accounts at once.

Andru said...

"Stop one, sure, but what about the umpteen others who are using the same program to bot? This is why they ban in waves - they kill the botting program and ban all those accounts at once."

Stupid argument. By now they should have enough expertise to identify a bot on the hour.

Anonymous said...

Back to the 150 Euros/month comment.

And to elaborate on what Nerdrager said.

That's 150 Euros per month per account. Since it's all programming and has very little human interaction a single person with 10 computers could run 50 bots simultaneously.

That's 7500 euros a month. These companies that sell gold have a system. They pay programmers hefty salaries to keep ahead of the Blizzard bot detectors.

The only lag in there profits is how quickly they can level new character, which is also done by botting.

Now that I think about it, maybe I'm in the wrong business.

Anonymous said...

You might want to post it on your realm's forums. People will complain, and bot will be banned.

Doing absolutely no quests beyond original dk-quests doesn't sound offensive to me - the dk quests are the only way to get out of the zone. No other quests are needed to level.

Doing no PvE or PvP content doesn't sound offensive either, you could have people who want to play mmo without interacting with others. (for example they want to play same game as their brother, but don't want to actually do any group activity ... even with their brother)

Playing 24 hours a day for any stretch of time by doing same thing, is obviously a bot. If it was same thing 16 hours a day, it maybe just someone with something wrong with their head, but people do have to sleep, and if another person takes over at that time - even though account is active, it's hard to believe they will be doing same thing.

If there is simply something wrong with the person, it's possible their family member got them through the starting quests, than it's possible they handed over the account and just set next to the person explaining what they could do to keep going.
Assuming the person is on disability and spends 18 hours a day in front of the pc, I guess you could grind to 80 in 15 days.

The only thing to be suspecious about there is the 24-hour a day activity with no breaks for extended period of days.

Chinook said...

This post seems very out of character for you Gevlon. You often equate the complaints of M&S to machine noise that you can easily ignore, but here you have gone to considerable effort to bring attention to a bot that has no apparent effect on your ability to enjoy the game. In particular your complaint that the bot harms legitimate skinners seems hollow, as all his collected items appear to be sold directly to an NPC vendor, with only the resulting gold entering the economy.

I can only assume that this post was a straw man argument designed to provoke a response from your readers. I expect a follow up tomorrow, perhaps noting the dissonance between player apathy towards bots (which support goldsellers and allow money to be exchanged for BoE epics) and the outrage at Blizzard for the sparkly pony and the inference that it might someday lead Blizzard to directly sell items with meaningful in-game effects.

Justisraiser said...

Gevlon,

I believe you've mentioned you're a software programmer in real life. Given such, I'm surprised you haven't considered the following:

- Real-time detection is costly from a processing standpoint. If you'll recall the server performance issues during this year's Valentine's Day event, they were caused by servers checking to see if every mob killed would award a necklace. Now imagine the performance issues that would arise if they had to analyze something much more complex like bot detection.

Incidentally, I believe this is why spam advertisements continue to propagate in Trade Chat. If Blizzard's servers had to check every single line sent in chat for spam keywords, everything would slow to a crawl. E-mail has the luxury of a 5-10 second delay in checking spam, and they can just file questionable spam in a "this could be spam so watch out" folder. You can't have a 5-10 second delay in sending chat text. It's trivial for an individual user implement via addons and such because it's just your client checking and chat text it sees, not every single line of text sent to the system.

- Given such, it's lot more efficient to analyze activity logs after the fact. This is why the bans happen in waves, because it's most efficient to detect and process them in waves. Having GMs read and then chase down bots every single time they read a ticket like this is a huge waste of time. You would need to train every GM to have the analytical tools to verify your accusations, which it's a lot simpler to have an automated process that does them in batches.

- The cost of a false positive is very high. Imagine being an eager WoW player and all of a sudden your account is flagged as a bot because some guy who lost a Need roll to you for a trinket reported you as a bot. Now you have to get to a phone, call Blizzard (no luck if it's not during business hours) and convince a rep you're not a bot. Is that would you call a positive customer service experience? Blizzard needs to be sure that bans have a 0% false positive rate as possible, because a real customer is going to be a lot more angry he was considered a bot than if he is about Blizzard letting bots hang around for a couple weeks farming leather.

-JR

Anonymous said...

Considering that I've known people who got banned for botting... Yes, Blizzard certainly does it.

I've also seen obvious bots disappear from my friends list.

Anonymous said...

lol. You dont serious think that Blizzard worries about bots?

Ive reported dozens of them.
having been in the game for long enough you know what to look for.
Herbing/mining path bots.
Skinning bots.
Fishing bots.
Eternal farming bots (small cave in north stormpeaks for eternal fire is very popular). ive seen 3 bots at once in there - all doing the same path.
And very few - if any - were ever removed.

On the scale of things, botting is small fry. The big money is with trojans/viruses and account hacking.

Ellifain @ Khaz'goroth

Big Heals said...

All blizzards has to do stop the bots.

1. Sell pre-made characters.
2. Sell gold.

No more costly customer support issues related to botting, stolen accounts, etc. Plus a steady income converting real money into fake gold.

Breevok said...

I can understand Gevlon's frustrations. Two weeks ago a guildie logged on, then off, then another toon appears, then another.

Greetings received no response - which is unusual for this guildie - who frequently disappears for work for extended periods of time, but when he's around he's very social and engaged within the guild.

Recognising the pattern, we realised yet another guildie had been hacked, so quickly shut down guild bank access etc.

Several guildies opened tickets, yet for over a week, one of this accounts toons sat in Shalozar basin, mining. Using the 'below northrend' hack, this toon was online mining saronite nodes for the majority of the day.

We started tracking the account - and would notice him briefly appearing then disappearing. Nodes came and went - but not very efficiently. He would mine a node then wander off to one on the edge of the minimap, ignoring the second node right next to the first.

We all submitted second tickets and received similar responses to the one Gevlon has in his post.

After 11 days the account has stopped logging on.

Anonymous said...

As a former botter myself who has lost several accounts from being banned, I would say that it really depends on the GM the report is handled by. Sometimes you can get away with the most insane runs and sometimes you can be in no mans land and still get hit with the ban hammer.

Nerdrager said...

To expand a little more; do you think that big companies in the botting business use publicly available bots?

Off course not! They have private bots which are mostly immune to banwaves because (afaik)the warden uses a signature system, and by exposing even a couple hunderd accounts spread over you're an insignificant target compared to the guy who used glider.

Public bots have even regressed lately since blizzard sued the software house behind glider; I remember a couple years ago a bot that could put glider to shame, it had a very sophisticated navigation system that looked more natural than rigid routes based on waypoints, it even supported questing and training! That shit went private roughly a year ago and imagine what that bot is able to do now.

TLDR if you have the know how needed to code your own bot, your only risks are player reports and statistical tools that flag your accounts as suspicious. Isn't it funny that the biggest botters are the least affected by warden banwaves? :D

PS I think that botting is being cornered in terms of importance by the rampant scamming of accounts.

Jujee said...

Blizzard is a large corporation. A large corporation has to implement and follow systems and proceudures. They are losing the battle against bots, gold farmers and gold sellers. As a result, you see them go out with a bang by making as money as they can selling merchandise in game and out of game. That is how WoW will end. Blizzard has been working on a new WoW. Blizzard is a business, they are not a charity. Gold farmers are running a business. To feel like we the average honest players are not being cheated, we need to either see Blizzard act against bots, farmers, or we can start botting or cheating as well. Nice guys finish last.

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of you haven't tried to bot. If you ever visited a botter forum you would see how many are getting banned every day.
There are many stories about people getting banned long time after being reported.
The way to know is if they just bot their character to 80, then plays it and it gets banned a month later.

These conspiracies are far fetched and in the future I promise to skip them on your site.

Taemojitsu said...

Justisraiser --
Another popular MMO does implement real-time filters for chat strings. Text which matches the string is simply not displayed. This does occasionally mean that to be able to say something like "The money that bots make goes to people that buy gold who drive up the price of rare items" in a chat channel you must replace the string "buy gold" with "buy g*ld".

※ note use of non-ascii code point range

Anonymous said...

Wouldn’t Blizzard make more money if they banned a gold farmer’s account on the spot? Every time the gold farmer had to create a new account it would cost them the price of a new WOW, BC & WoTLK account? That is a little over $100 U.S.

invinciblegod said...

I think you are confusing supporting with tolerating. Support implies an active encouragement to bot when in fact the opposite is true (they say they will ban you). Tolerate is when you look the other way and ignore them. So I say Blizzard is tolerating them, not supporting them.

Anonymous said...

After thinking about it some more, Gevlon, your reasoning assumes that Blizzard is stupid.

They didn't go to all the trouble, and the bad PR to develop Warden so that they wouldn't do anything about botters. (They could have accomplished the same effect by not making Warden do anything special, and claim that it did.)

Blizzard isn't stupid, and developing software costs money. They wouldn't spend money when they could get the same effect for free.

Anonymous said...

I am sure this is a bot and should be banned.

I think you are overly optimistic as to the pace at which rich public companies go after individual consumers. The opportunities for bad PR, Consumer Protection Agencies, and banning a lawyer means they would be cautious.

I am not convinced that Blizzard keeps logs of each beast skinned or leather sold for each of its 13m characters. Considering that a day of combat logging could be 500 million bytes for one toon, I have to imagine how much data that would before a realm let alone WoW. What sort of application do you think an entry level GM would have access to in order to search through terabytes of data to find whether the data corroborates your story. I would very surprised that Blizzard had a nice SQL database of this enormous size that a GM could run a "simple database scan" upon. Even if the GM knew enough of the database structure to come up with a SQL query to verify your claims. I am sure that a lot of reports Blizzard gets are from joking friends, enemies, ex-SO, and competitors.

Even if this monstrous amount of data were available, the person who is going to analysis it might need to wait days until the data comes off a tape or such device until it can be searched. My complete guess is that it is not in the detail and format for a GM to do it. Maybe that is why it goes in waves, they have to write a custom program to scan what data they do keep for the suspicious behavior.

My last seven characters I leveled from 1-80 did so without a single BG, duel, PvP kill or death; those things just slow down the leveling. This was pre-LFD so most did it without doing an instance.

Hopefully, this guy will be caught in the next big ban wave and soon.

Dzudzadzo said...

2 weeks passed and this bot is still up and running... made a thread abaut it on official forums:

http://forums.wow-europe.com/thread.html?topicId=13200308652&sid=1

Anonymous said...

Blizzard doesn't care for one reason. look at the price gold is being sold for. They are going to put the gold farmers out of business because even a moron can farm up 1k gold these days. Gold is easy to get now a days. They are going to squeeze them out slowly as i doubt blizzard has the man power these days to even bother care about in game gold farmers. After all if they did have the man power, Your ticket would get answered quicker.

What they need to do is get on with the hacking of accounts.

Anonymous said...

Historyy is near 220k kills, he(it*) is very near to get the "World's most relentless killer" title!

Anonymous said...

I know the post is just so old. But i think Blizz has just quitted of actively pursuing bots long time ago due to the immense difficulties(described in many flavors above me) they found. Yeah the sheer number of them plus the never-ending new ones are the problem, they can't have such personnel and smooth automation to deal with it.

But Did They Ever Consider That They Have An Even More Sheer Number To Use Against Them?I mean the 13 million players. Putting a form to spefically report bots, requesting for Clear Proofs(including SS). Leting people that you don't pay to do the job with an effectively simple filter(You ask for X proofs) and bet that 1/500 players will do a report once a week.

Near to zero costs, quick decisions with 0%FP(how much time you need to ban a account with Solid Proofs?) and you know for sure, Bots Will Never Be More Than The Players.

Anonymous said...

historyy still up , 2 months after the report :)

Anonymous said...

Gevlon,

I was wondering how your Sholazar Basin bot farmer was doing? I've been hearing that the recent upgrade to Warden 2 has impacted the ability for bots to work. Have you seen these same results?

I was wondering; if Blizzard is really able to do away with bots, how would they rebalance the supply chain?

Neu

MM said...

http://be.imba.hu/?zone=EU&realm=Magtheridon&character=Historyy

could be a farming toon, tbh I consider all this a waste of time over pixels, people who support RMT (by buying in game gold) are taking this matter beyond the "gaming" limits.
IMHO we do not own any (even our toons) part of this game (the gold is just a bunch of pixels). Blizzard needs to keep a profitable business (for ex. the new remote auction house). while at first it seems to be a good idea, it does make me wonder though, how many developers out there are designing remote AH bots right now??, why would I post any stuff on the AH when I know deep down that some one is in more control than I am (imagine the analogy if this happens IRL stock/commodities market LOL!!).

Anonymous said...

"But I reported an obvious bot. No investigation is needed. He reads my report, peek into a log and press the ban button."

"Wrong, because whatever method they're using to bot without detection will be fixed by the people who developed it, when they realize it doesn't work. You can either kill one bee, or take your time and set the hive ablaze. Sure, the bees might irritate you while you're preparing, but at least at the end of the day you'll have taken down as many as humanly possible."

Except you are not considering in the online environment prevention is ALWAYS playing catchup. virus protection is always behind the creators of virus's. A reactive method of protection is always one that promotes the environment to continue.

Sound stupid? Consider how much the virus protection market is worth. There is your answer. Some people even believe they create there own virus's. I am saying "virus" in a very general way to encompass all form of unwanted infection.

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