Greedy Goblin

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The huge multibox problem

By following my Archeage guide, you can make about 300G/day with about 5 minutes clicking and 2 hours AFK computer time. An APEX sells for $10 in the shop and 750 gold on in-game, so you can save $4 per day doing it. That doesn't look game-breaking or something that would cause RMT-ers jump on it. It's good for an ordinary player to play for free and earn himself enough money for repairs and buying ordinary stuff and maybe something shiny once in two months.

Except, those results are per account. You can repeat it with a hundred accounts on various servers assuming you have the CPU time to run the AFK processes. $400/day for a 6 hours/day human work isn't bad at all. Assuming you just want to play and buy good gear, you'd need a $100K 8-hours job to be an equal whale in the game. If you RMT for half price, you can still make over $50K per year.

In EVE, the situation is much worse. Getting 200M ISK per hour with AFK ratting isn't hard with carriers. Run 20 accounts for 10 hours (can be done without bot or input multiplex) and you are making 40B/day. That's also $400/day opportunity cost.

The problem isn't AFK crafting or carrier ratting. CCP of course nerfs that, because they want to address the outrage and not the problem. Someone who plays well should make much more than a moron or slacker. The problem is that multiboxing allows him to multiply himself. If he can make 10x more than average Joe and runs 10 accounts, he makes 100x more money, obviously breaking the game, making average Joe not simply "poorer" as he deserves to be for his 10x less performance, but "totally irrelevant". Average Joe now has no reason to make in-game money as what he does is nothing compared to the multiboxers. His only rational solution is not playing and buying in-game wealth via token or illicit RMT. That worked well for Blizzard in Diablo 3. Totally.

Defeating multiboxing isn't easy (unless input multiplexing), because it's impossible to tell if a guy runs two accounts or two family members play from the same home, helping each other. The only way is placing some restriction on every account that is bearable to a single account player, but making multiboxing unbearable:
  • Make the game low subscription + item shop instead of free + shop. This doesn't rule out tokens, but tokens should only cover item shop currency. With EVE example: you need to pay $5/month to run an alpha account, but you can use PLEX to get to omega, get dual training, get skins and whatnot. Everyone can pay $5/month. $100/month for 20 accounts on the other hand would scare off many multiboxers.
  • My infamous "guild-only trading", of course with limited guild sizes. Having another account in the guild would mean having another PvE-only account in the limited roster, having the opportunity cost of having another player.
  • Make AFK moneymaking impossible. If every action needs clicking, the limiting factor will be human time and multiboxing will have very limited use. For example Archeage crafting should be instant and without limited "labor" resource, allowing everyone to craft as much as he want, driving crafting margins to zero. In such case only getting the materials would be wealth-creating action.

Don't be fooled by the fact that players willingly engage in pay-to-win. If the pay-to-win comes from the item shop, at least it fuels the income of the developers which offsets the damage caused by not playing and becoming less invested in the game. There is no point fueling the ingame or RMT income of free players. The damage is on the developer while the gains are on the individual multiboxer.

PS: I didn't expect to be proven right so fast on my yesterday's prediction. Please check out the update at the end.


Lucius said...

AFK carrier ratting doesn't exist anymore. After the change to the way fighters work it was hard to multibox 3 or even 2 carriers. After the change to rat AI it's more or less impossible to play more than 1 account without losing fighters every now and then.
That said, rorqual mining has taken it's place as the afk capital for multiboxers.

Eve is a game of alts and not only for multiboxers. Any serious industry guy will be running a legion of alts for their buildslots. Much like people leveled up alts in WoW purely to get more maxed out professions.

It's an interesting idea to think about. It would effectively kill Eve though since the things that benefit the most from multiple accounts (production, mining and PI) would directly affect the prices on the market. And with less isk coming into the game (no more afk ratting in ishtars) this would heavily favour veterans.
Supers and Titans would become very very expensive again and would only solidify the power of the groups that own a significant amount already.

Alessandro said...

Very interesting. But I think that it would be very hard to sell that much gold/RMT, at least for more than a month or so. Is there that many Whales playing the game? And will the game last with that much money being pumped into the economy?

Anonymous said...

I dunno if you have been informed that carriers after remake are 100% non-afkable. Not even 1 ISK can be made with AFK carrier, and you cannot multibox them without significant effort anymore due to high APM requirement.

And after the recent nerf, carriers are no longer capable of doing 200mil/hour even with full attention. The absolute peak is about 180mil/hour, and typical failfit will go for 120mil/hour. Non-multiboxable. Supercarriers can still do it though.

Gevlon said...

@Lucius: opposite. If things would be scarce, casual players could create value and feel useful. The game doesn't live or die by PL being defeated or not. It dies by JoeNobody saying "meh I can't do anything here"

@Alessandro: IWI managed to sell trillions of ISK every month. Don't underestimate the size of the RMT market.

@Anon: we'll see the monthly economic report how much ISK was ratted.

Fenga said...

You can still use Ishtars/VNIs in Forsaken Hubs 98% AFK getting 14-17mil/tick completely save (no dread spawn). I am running this w/ 9 Accounts in 9 different anoms in null sec using Eve O preview (legit!). I am by no means a pro/hardcore multiboxer, but you get around 150mil/tick this while just putting 900 mil isk in ships on the field (which cant be ganked all at once because they are spread out across different systems). This is great while watching netflex, reading reddit or gevlon for 1-2h. I cant stand to run this any longer that 2h.
These pilots can even be used as legit SP farmers as well. They pay there plex for themselves selling sp and still got like 300-400mil isk/month and char left over.

Anonymous said...

@Gevlon: we already see it. Last nerf landed on june 12th, and ratting dropped from 69T in may to 63T in june, reports are already published. While they stated that it's 10% nerf for regular carriers, my ticks plummeted by 33%. Probably because I'm not in Delve...

Anonymous said...

> $100/month for 20 accounts on the other hand would scare off many multiboxers.

Why? It doesn't prevent him from multiboxing, it just imposes a new operating cost. If he's earning $400/day (approx $8000/month if he takes weekends off) as in your example, then $100/month is a negligible expense. Even if we shift down to more realistic numbers (using AFK Ishtars, or Rorquals which need to take breaks for anomaly respawns), it's still not a credible deterrent.

Your suggestion might scare off incompetent multiboxers or part-time multiboxers. The committed full-time goldsellers would laugh at it.

Gevlon said...

@Anon: that's true if that's the only line of defense. However if RMT-ers risk banning, than they also risk losing the investment that they must do up front. Also, scaring off incompetent and part-time multiboxers help both the in-game economy and the GMs: the RMT-er can hide between less legitimate multiboxers. Finally in order to make payment, you have to submit some personal information, so if caught on RMT, it's easier to press a lawsuit or simply ban your name (making new account would need new credit card under the name of someone else)

Anonymous said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The only way a game with any sort of proper economy can work is if every player is restricted to one account/character only.

And yes, there are ways to enforce this; I remember Second Life relying on hardware id checks, for example. Sure, that's not 100% foolproof, but it doesn't need to be. As long as it's effective enough so that average or slightly-above-average player won't bother, it's already a success.

Of course, no one is interested in doing it, because less accounts means less money.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Trion ban people for mass numbers of accounts anyway?