Greedy Goblin

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Not every subscriber is needed

Ask Google about ban archeology bot and it throws up 60K results from the last week. There is a mass ban wave of the cheaters who used a bot to do archeology. The reason why these cheaters were captured is technical: the bot was terribly written and announced botting in public channels. I wouldn't be surprised if it was written by a disgruntled employee of the botting company.

OK, these morons had a "ban me" sign above their head but are they different from Historyy, the farmbot who was online 24/7 doing no quests, PvP, instances, just grinded and skinned the same monsters in Sholozar in the magnitude of 100K? If Blizzard allowed Historyy and friends generating tens of thousands of gold, why did they go berserk on idiotic kids who botted archeology?

Such ban-wave happened already. On May 20, 2008 about 500K glider users were banned. What else happened on this day? Age of Conan was published. While the game turned out to be a huge failure, before publishing it was expected to be a WoW-killer.

Now the internet is full of Rift, which has many new features and much better graphics than WoW. Also, the dynamic battle with opening invasion rifts is much more interesting way of leveling up than mindlessly grind 10 wolves over 2000 quests. Rift is expected to be the WoW-killer, of course this kind of expectations often fail. But in March 2011, when Rift was opened to the public, Blizzard made this ban-wave.

Why ban kids who bot archeology? Like anyone cares if he has the stupid achievements. PvP bots are much more annoying, practically make leveling BGs instant lost for one side. When half of your "team" don't leave the start room, I'm sure you are much more annoyed than seeing some guy with 4 dancing dwarves.

I believe Blizzard banned these morons exactly to make them "take a break" from WoW (just as they claim to do on forums) and "try out Rift". The forming community of a new game can hardly survive the influx of this cheating filth.

One must see that not every paying customer is desired. No matter how much I pay in a restaurant if I insult other guests. Having my money is smaller gain than losing the other customers. This is the case with M&S in MMOs. One of the wonders of WoW is player separation: you can level up alone and enter dungeons and raids with your guild. So you don't encounter with the obnoxious morons unless you read trade chat for a long time, or ask for trouble by queuing up LFD. WoW is Massively Single Player game, this is the only system where M&S can be kept as customers. In a true MMO they must be kicked or they force every sane person out.

Since Blizzard can be sure in their return (with buying a new game + expansions), the company is free to use this horde of mindless things to invade and destroy competing MMOs unless they are written also as parallel single player games.

PS: what should Blizzard do if some game would arrive that is really that good to destroy WoW?
Shut down WoW servers for two weeks blaming technical failures or DDOS attack. By the end of that period, the other game would be abandoned by everyone except obnoxious trolls, and hand-holding demanding M&S.


Mikra said...

An interesting theory, although Blizz would have probably banned them regardles of Rift. I think the scenario is more of an extra added bonus they get, and one which may have caused them to pick an exact date for the mass bannings, but is probably not the prime reason for the ban wave.

Azuriel said...

If you read some of the links out there, the banwave seemed to have targeted Arch botting, but the Arch bot itself was simply one feature among others (honor, gathering, etc). I still see AH botting and the cheap ore/herbs continues to flow as of yesterday, so obviously it was probably targeting a specific program instead of everything across the board.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with this post. In the last 3-4 year, every major (and not so major) MMO release has been heralded as a WoW-killer. This includes AoC, WAR, Aion, Rift, SWKOTOR, TERA and other releases with a lesser profile. Chances are that any major banwave implemented by Blizzard is going to coincide with a game release of some sort.

Moreover, according to your reasoning AoC should have been overrun by some of the 500,000 banned glider users during its release, but clearly that was not the case. What exactly forces a banned botter to try a new game over WoW? It's just as easy to start a new account in WoW as it is in any recently released MMO. Furthermore, it's more likely that a botter will return to the game he already knows how to bot before jumping ship to a new product.

Your argument of Blizzard using deviant schemes in order to tank other games really lacks solid evidence. In fact, the opposite scenario is a lot more plausible. Any new and flashy (and heavily marketed and advertised) MMO title is bound to attract first-time MMO players, increasing the overall player base in the industry, and giving Blizzaed more potential customers to target (and let's face it, the newcomers to the MMO genre are very likely to at some point try WoW solely based on its notoriety as the gold standard for MMOs).

Twiliak said...

If you think they're only targeting Archeology botters you're mistaken. Take a look at this thread, they're taking action against botters everywhere.

Grim said...

What does botting have to do with M&S behaviour? A botter doesn't spam anal jokes or ruin your dungeon run. A botter sets up his bot and goes afk.

NoNerdy3DPS said...

Or what if publishers release their games around the time banwaves occur?

And yea, there are a lot of other people that get banned for doing other things that include botting. I've been using a certain bot you had to pay for, to check it out. There are forums where people discuss their bans, exploiting the economy as it's called seems to be a reason for getting banned. Very often.

Riptor said...

WoW is a Hotkey MMO (very simply: Press Button- cast Fireball). Hotkey MMOs only exist due to the limited possible internet traffic and PC capability of the time they were originally developed. All the following WoW “Killers” were trying to fit into the same Category by using basically the same System but always trying to put on a new Twist.
How can any MMO compete with a Game that has been continuously developed over 11 years and has in its core already stolen much of his Gameplay from Games that are much older? All these Games are Clones as they, although having better Graphics, a different Setting and sometimes a better Storyline, still are based on the same Gameplay Mechanics as WoW and other Hotkey MMOs before that.
Although Rift is not a bad Game it doesn’t feel like something new, but an extension of something one has already seen. Also with that game there is the major issue that it has already very easy, accessible content lined up and does not even attempt to put any difficulty into PvE as Blizzard has finally restarted doing with Cata.
I always smile at these WoW Killer Campaigns as they never offer a Game that would revolutionize MMOs but rather tries to copy an already existing Game. Maybe if we wait for another 1-2 years Game Developers will realize that what works for Movies (If it was a success just do it again; if you check movie releases for 2011 you’ll find about 50% of all mainstream releases being Sequels) does in many cases not work for Video Games

Anonymous said...

The big difference is automatic vs manual operation.

They were able to mass-ban the Arch botters because it was very easy for them to automatically detect with 100% accuracy this specific bot. They just had to hack together some script running once on the whole database.

Other kinds of bots are not so easy to spot, so they need manual intervention which means someone reporting and someone from Blizzard with enough tehcnical background to confirm the botting.

Reporting if happens is free (from Blizzard's perspective) but an employer qualified to confirm the claim is not. This means manual intervention at the single case level is too much expensive on a large scale.

Anonymous said...

"Massively Single Player game" are the words I have been looking for. For 2.5 years I've been playing WoW as if it was a single player game. Even though I've done tons of raiding content, I preferred to spend my time in game alone and only group up for the stuff that was impossible to solo.

Enjoying your blog even after I stopped playing the game. You are doing an important thing by bashing M&S.

chewy said...

I believe you're entirely right in your assertion that the clean up of bots is aimed at moving them to another game.

From personal relationships I know that a strategy employed by several game manufacturers is to make life for botters and gold sellers just that little bit more difficult than it would be on a competitors platform. This strategy makes a lot of sense, investing just enough effort to make the problem go elsewhere is more cost effective than eradicating it entirely.

Anonymous said...

Would you mind to explain the last paragraph? If servers would be shut down, everyone and not only the cheating M&S would migrate somewhere else. This means, that you assume that the new game cant handle the sort of players that wow lives of. That confuses me.

Anonymous said...

Last paragraph takes as assumption that the competing game will be unable to handle the "tsunami" of bad players storming in from WoW. It could be, but it could also be that actually they manage to handle them.

WoW has a lot of momentum, but this doesn't mean this momentum cannot be lost to a competitor if you play your card in the wrong way and the competitor plays his in the best way.

Anonymous said...

I never made that connection, thanks for that, I know why I read this blog daily.

it also serves to show that Blizzard is tough on bots (whether they are or not is not important, the perception is what is important), so they hit two birds with one stone.

anyway, I am still hoping SW:TOR turns out as good as I hope

Evlyxx said...

A very interesting and compelling conspiracy theory.

I think you may be on to something here.

Kelindria said...

Perhaps it should be noted what is going on in Rift. Currently Trion is trying just about every tool they can think of to stop account hacking and gold selling.

Apparently alot of people have been getting their accounts stolen as of late and as such Trion is bringing in Coin Lock which will lock your account if you log in from a "very different" ip address.
As for the gold selling we get mail about 3 times a day and spammed in chat about every 15 mins if I was to guess. They are suppose to be working on improving their spam filters.

Trion has a zero tolerance policy with botting and so far seems to working. The game itself wouldn't be overly friendly for a simple farm bot and an invasion would screw them up even more. Personally haven't seen any bots in the warfronts or in the world.

Espoire said...

"Would you mind to explain the last paragraph? If servers would be shut down, everyone and not only the cheating M&S would migrate somewhere else."

...which would easily overwhelm the hardware that a new, smaller MMO would be running on. Not only would new game X be flooded with Anal [Life Tap] and annoying players asking to have things explained that are already explained by the tutorial, but the servers would also be filled to dozens of times their capacity, making queue times, and lag, and stability issues a fact of life for the new game. That would ruin the launch for sure.

axfodor said...

"This well-timed ban wave takes place right before their first quarter ending March 31, 2011. It's also taking place right before pay day. Coincidence?"

Apparently, they do this to boost their quarterly sales figures to appease share holders.

Anonymous said...

So far I have encountered no player in RIFT that I recognize as M&S, no anal spammers, and no useless players in dungeons.
I have met players who forgot to use some abilities they should have, but when it's pointed out they start using them because they are trying to learn to play as well as possible, unlike WoW M&S who will insist on tanking using only rend to hold aggro after someone tells them to use sunder armor.

I have never seen anal spam or any other spam like that in trade chat. I have never seen anyone in RIFT do anything that has no other purpose then to annoy other players.

The M&S will never leave WoW for another game, as the other game will have a player base that does not accept their behavior. Imagine arthasdklol spamming anal in RIFT trade chat, no one joins in on it and his chat window soon fills up with "you are being ignored by XXX", he will discover that there are no "fun people" in RIFT and go back to WoW where his public display of inferior DNA is tolerated as all the other morons are there, and the rest are so used to moronic behavior that they won't even bother to /ignore.

Imagine that you are mentally handicapped, and there are 2 rooms next to each other. In one room there are 50 normal people, and in the other there are 50 normal people and 200 other mentally handicapped people, where would you feel most comfortable?

The M&S will never leave WoW permanently as WoW is the only game with a player base that tolerates them, and if the try out RIFT or any other MMO they will return to WoW before they manage to bother more than a very few players.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it makes sense from a business standpoint to purposely dispose of a % of your playerbase, as undesirable as they may be, with the hopes that they will "cripple" another game's release. That is such a huge risk to take for any company, and the only thing that gives any credibility to this claim is the fact that WoW has such a dominant chunk of the market for years now.

I think it is simply more likely that Blizzard only wants to "get its name out" by doing such things as mass-bans, to coincide with other game's release as a reminder to the new players or longtime quitters that... hey guys, we're still here and kicking it, making the game better and getting rid of the rotten apples.

Grim said...

If they have bothered to write properly scaling load balancing algorithms, adding more hardware can be done literally overnight with very low marginal expenditure.

Eaten by a Grue said...

Correlation does not imply causation. You merely have a conjecture, but there is little other evidence for it.

And with the Age of Conan ban, if that was for gold botting, that makes no sense. Gold farmers are not going to migrate en masse to a new game where the demand for currency is not established, while a need to design a new farming bot would be required.

zenga said...

As far as I know rift was launched weeks ago, and at the same day Blizzard released 4.1 on the PTR.

In the past Blizzard has announced / released 'stuff' in general when competitors had something new as well.

About rift: players only level a character once, twice, ... the leveling experience is not the most important thing that will determine if Rift is going to stay or not, the endgame experience will. And so far, very little is known about that.

Quite a lot of players from a forum I frequent have made the jump to Rift. While they seem to enjoy it, words like 'very repetitive, no pvp, ...' start to occur more and more.

Even if Blizzard was to lose each time 10% of it's subscribers to 5 competitive game; it would still be the dominating mmo out there.

zenga said...

In addition to my previous comment: said bot did not announce botting to 'public channels'. It used chat channels to communicate, something what many addons do, rather than using raw injection. It's a design choice. Don't forget that the bot stayed unnoticed for 2 years. Besides archeology it would farm honor, level up, fight back and farm ore/herbs. It's at least debatable if you can label that as poorly written.

Running the bot would net you a minimum of 10-15k gold a day; one could run multiple instances of it. I wonder who you 'd hire for a job: the 17y old kid who sees the opportunity and makes 10-15$ a day (by selling gold) by just turning on and off this bot, taking 5 minutes of his time ... or a 17y old kid who spend all his free time farming gold to buy a mount.

Kurt said...

@Eaten by a grue

Accusing Gevlon of 'cum hoc ergo propter hoc' is out of place here, he's attempting to deconstruct Blizzard's motivations here, which never falls under deductive logic, which is the only case in which your fallacy applies. Any time you are analyzing another thinking being's motivations, you are automatically reduced to conjecture, lacking some smoking gun where they specifically commit themselves in evidence to a reason. Even then, they could have been lying.

"And with the Age of Conan ban, if that was for gold botting, that makes no sense. Gold farmers are not going to migrate en masse to a new game..."

You think only gold sellers use Glider? That's truly funny.

Andenthal said...

You might be on to something regarding timing. It really is the perfect time to send a wave of M&S to Rift to poison the population there.

But that's the thing....
Most of those banned for using pirox weren't M&S. The guy botting in BGs, isn't stupid, just annoying because you want to win.

M&S can't find EJ to figure out a decent rotation and spec for their class. They can't find the AH to buy the proper gems for their gear. What on earth makes you think they would be willing to search for and download a bot and be willing to pay for it. It takes away from their "funz" - which is what they are all about. Most bots are in the name of efficiency, not laziness or stupidity.

It also seems counter productive to send cheaters to the MMO that has (argueably) the most aggressive anti-cheating/botting policy. Also, as someone above said, M&S like to be around other M&S (to show off their achievements, mounts, etc). Rift is mostly void of them thusfar, not making for a smooth transition.

Brindle said...

You make a good business plan Goblin. One we should fund together. Hype a 'wow-killer' game (Buzz only necessary, the actual game can totally suck). Just need enough marketing buz to convince Blizzard.

Blizzard releases the Banhammer, M&S flock to our game --> Profit.
(box sales >>>> development cost)

Turn off game in a few months and pocket the easy cash!

In other words, Warhammer Online.

Anonymous said...

"The M&S will never leave WoW for another game, as the other game will have a player base that does not accept their behavior. Imagine arthasdklol spamming anal in RIFT trade chat, no one joins in on it and his chat window soon fills up with "you are being ignored by XXX", he will discover that there are no "fun people" in RIFT and go back to WoW where his public display of inferior DNA is tolerated as all the other morons are there, and the rest are so used to moronic behavior that they won't even bother to /ignore."

The problem with your assertion is that if multiple M7S migrate they will reinforce the negative behavior. Mass ignoring has not deterred them in WoW and would not in another MMO. The cost is too low to be a deterrent.

many of them would continue witht he anal jokes for hours if even 1 person gave them a response other than ignoring them.

WoW loot cards said...

I agree with the other poster that said it. Botters doesn't always mean M+S. It could be someone at work who just doesn't want to put the effort in when he only has a few hours to play at night.

Everyone heard the story of a well known world first guild in the EU who payed for powerleveling in TBC and regularly buy gold to keep themselves ahead of the game rather than grinding.

When it comes to subscribers I think there are ones that are more valuble than others to blizzard.

As for games that will kill WoW, I think only WoW can kill WoW. Sooner or later there will be no more ideas. We already know they're working on another mmorpg.

Every new game that comes out seems to have little effect, WoW's subscriber base keeps growing and if they ban little Tommy because he was cheating he'll probably go buy every WoW expansion the next day so he can play again.