AGS/Smilegate have jointly shown us that they are incapable of handling the botting/RMT situation as of late. Whether you want to ascribe that to immense difficulty or incompetence on their part is up to you. Regardless…
This whole thing can be stopped by bottlenecking RMT. If RMT dries up the bots do so with them. It’s fairly clear now that it’s just not feasible to stop bots in a f2p MMO that’s this popular.
The problem is AGS’ current method of punishing RMTers is way too laid back. To paraphrase what’s been relayed to us via CM’s “The type and duration of punishment is based off of the infractions that took place with the player’s account standing in context”. What this basically signals to all players is “Hey I can just RMT 250k gold real quick, use it to hone before they can take it away, and well… if I get caught i’ll just take the 3 day ban like a champ and i’ll even get rested bonus doing so!”
I’ve seen what happens in games such as WoW when RMT isn’t seriously punished. RMT flourishes for the simple reason that players know they won’t be severely punished. The difference is in this game gold is so interlinked with player progress that it really matters that this is taken much more seriously. With that in mind I think a quick an easy solution would be for AGS to seriously increase the duration of bans for even first time violators. 3 DAYS IS A MINI VACATION NOT A PUNISHMENT.
Imagine if you logged in tomorrow and in the main menu and in the in game ticker on the bottom left you saw this message
All Players involved in Real Money Trading will receive 180 day bans from here on out. Escalating to permanently on 2nd offense
180 days without access to your account hurts what feels like infinitely more than 3 days. This will stop people from dipping their toes in the RMT game.
They are unlikely to do any of these extreme punishments since they might lose paying customers. Perma bans, 180 day bans, means no mari shop income, no skins purchases, no pheon purchases, no crystalline arua, etc. etc. Even negative gold would cause the same. I mean, if you go -250k, you’re not going to play any more and hence not be in their store. No big deal if only a few people, but could be thousands or 10’s of thousands who knows.
At the big publishers, everyone knows that he is bots. I have said before. Again, as long as the limited content provided by AGS continues, it will never end. This is EU Not Korea. I hope one day they will understand. They kill the game like New World.
For once I actually agree with a feedback on here. AGS’ handling of players involved in RMT is a bit unclear and leaves many people wondering if they can get away with a minor wrist slap for their first offense. If AGS took a harder stance on RMT and made an announcement outlining all of the punishments, I think this would deter a majority of players who were considering RMT.
instead of simply jsut removing gold or temporarily banning people, another solution which i dont think they do or are currently capable of doing would be to reset a persons item level to the point before they RMT’d. do that + putting the account into a negative standing on gold like the do in RU means that all progress gained from RMT is lost + they then have to either farm gold for however long to pay it off or they have to spend real $ through the game store to pay it faster.
I would submit that it is a large problem, and the solution should come from multiple angles.
There is a demand for gold. That demand likely will not wane. Nor is anyone asking for that demand to wane. Having an in-game economy is desirable by all parties - at least I think it is safe to presume.
Supply - that is constrained. Right now, because the gold is more expensive to buy directly through SmileGate, an alternative supply (botters) has cropped up.
The SmileGate market is the official, prescribed market. The botters are the illicit market.
Right now - that illicit market is thriving. As long as the illicit market is thriving, botters will continue to go to great lengths and ingenuity to defy the EULA for their profitabiliy.
They need a multi-pronged approach:
Punish the use of the illicit market. Punishment needs to be sufficiently steep so that any of these consumers NEVER consider the illicit market ever again. Permanent bans? Perhaps. Negative gold value equal to what was purchased? This seems like a very decent deterrent.
Potentially evaluate the cost of gold on the official market. If their prices are too high, they will never eliminate (or at least reduce to a manageable level) the illicit market.
Incorporate operational updates that make botting more difficult:
Periodically move script destination anchor points such as island exits, quest NPCs, and repair NPCs.
Consider implementing a sort of CAPTCHA mini-game to handicap botters. Perhaps just at low-level quests / game entry. Perhaps with a plan to expand to higher game tiers, if necessary.
Implement a game client delivery system that seals or encrypts the game client envelope to prevent tampering and the possibility of building “botter clients.”
Consider implementing a MFA authentication system for the game. Maybe don’t require every player to necessarily leverage the MFA. But require MFA’ing for anyone who wishes to make use of the Market, AH, or for any player to player trade transactions.
Spring for some in-game Gamemasters or Moderators who can provide active, real-time response to large-scale botting events.
Consider promoting some diligent players (perhaps without their knowing) to moderator-lites. Enable diligent players’ in-game bot reporting to have an immediate impact against botters (have it stick them with a 30 minute ban, disconnect their game client, etc.).
Consider automating ban and removal of bots if they achieve a certain reports (3 unique reporting strikes, and you’re out).
If they tackle this thing from all sides, I have confidence that they can return the in-game world to a manageable one that everyone can enjoy.