Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Role Playing (Games) Entertainment Games

Mythic GM Talks Warhammer Launch, Banning Gold Sellers 251

Posted by Soulskill
from the ban-early-and-often dept.
Gamasutra has an interview with Mark Jacobs, GM and co-founder of Mythic, about the recent launch of Warhammer Online. He talks about handling the heavy demands on the servers, and how the launch is going better than the opening of Dark Age of Camelot (during which "somebody parked a truck on our internet"). Jacobs also blogged about the glee with which he and his team have been banning gold spammers: "We don't wait and let them stay in the game and ban them en-masse, my guys ban their useless, time-consuming butts right away. We have a strike team whose sole job it is to get these guys off our servers as quickly as possible. This weekend, we unveiled a new wrinkle in the fight against them, the public ban message. Players on our Phoenix Throne server have been treated to special messages when a gold seller/spammer is banned. I've given them a wide leash to come up with creative messages to tell the entire community who has been banned and we keep it within the Warhammer universe."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Mythic GM Talks Warhammer Launch, Banning Gold Sellers

Comments Filter:
  • I'm unaware of whether any other servers faced this problem, but Azazel, at the very least, did not have scenarios (battlegrounds are the WoW equivalent) running on launch day (though that was fixed the next day) due to a bug or something as they worked during the head start or open beta.

  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:33PM (#25112381)

    I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

    Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...Then when you are given the gold, trace it back and ban that account along with the credit card info that was used to purchase the subscription. (As well as the product key)

    Seriously it doesn't seem that hard.

    • by stonecypher (118140) <stonecypher@gmai l . com> on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:38PM (#25112427) Homepage Journal

      I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

      You never understood how it could be difficult to ban people from making money by breaking the rules?

      Man, you've never bought weed, have you?

    • by TitusC3v5 (608284)
      The only way to really kill gold selling is counterproductive to business. The only true way to kill a parasite is to kill its host - in other words, you need to ban not just the sellers, but also the BUYERS as well. And you need to heavily, heavily advertise the fact. Once enough players get it through their skulls that buying gold will get their ass banned, the purchases should slow enough that it should cease being profitable to the gold sellers, forcing them to move to another game.
    • by vux984 (928602)

      I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

      Then you haven't thought about it.

      Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...Then when you are given the gold, trace it back and ban that account along with the credit card info that was used to purchase the subscription. (As well as the product key)

      Well duh!

      1) The account that was used to transfer you the gold isn't the one that was used to farm it. Ideally, the accounts that actually do the transactions are "free" throwaway bu

    • by vux984 (928602) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:11PM (#25112829)

      Doh. bloody filter choked on 'less than symbol' $30 and clipped off most my post...

      I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

      Then you haven't thought about it.

      Just send in some employee to buy some gold that is advertised...Then when you are given the gold, trace it back and ban that account along with the credit card info that was used to purchase the subscription. (As well as the product key)

      Well duh!

      1) The account that was used to transfer you the gold isn't the one that was used to farm it. Ideally, the accounts that actually do the transactions are "free" throwaway buddy or trial accounts. (Which is why some of the more modern games have limits on those free trial accounts to limit how much gold they can actually have, to prevent them from transfering items at all, or from sending mail, or talking in certain chat channels, etc...) Not much use in banning the free throw-away account now is there?

      2) Even if they can't use free throwaway accounts, then they use paid throwaway accounts. The accounts generally cost less than $30 bucks and gets them a free month. If they make at least 100% markup (and they do) than all they need is to sell $60 worth of gold before getting banned to break even. That's exceedingly easy to do. Hell, even if they get 'stung' by an employee, as long as they set it up so that they log in and fulfill all their orders at once, by the time the employee identifies the account, a couple hundred bucks worth of gold will have been moved and the farmer is ahead of the game.

      3) Even banning a credit card isn't effective. These guys all pay by prepaid game card at best, or have prepaid visa debit cards etc, which can be obtained en masse trivially, never mind the potential for using stolen card numbers.

      4) What mythic is doing by banning the spammer accounts is just stopping in-game advertising, not gold farming, or gold-sales. To do THAT is much harder, and there is little they can do to stop THAT, without very careful game design with that as a goal.

      5) The gold farmers also are known to use hacked accounts. (where they've guessed or stolen user names and passwords of a legitimate customer, and use those accounts to move gold between farmer accounts and seller accounts, part of an in-game 'laundering' scheme). The 'victim' never even knows he's been hacked, because they just login for a few seconds to move THEIR gold around and don't otherwise interfere with the account at all.

      This makes it difficult for the game-devs to act, because when they ban people suspected of being part of the gold-trade, they have to deal with the 'collateral damage'.

      6) Of course, gold sellers also use hacked accounts for spamming sales.

      Seriously it doesn't seem that hard.

      Its FAR harder than it sounds.

      • I never understood how it was difficult to rid these guys.

        Then you haven't thought about it.

        Yep. The grandparent forgets that the gold sellers are generally professional - you can bet they've thought about it.
         
        There's lots of ways to move money around in an MMO to disguise where it's coming from and who it's going to. At the end of the day, after you've banned the mules, the bosses are still there.

      • The smart thing to do, though, would be to leave the farmers themselves alone, but infiltrate and watch the money trail.

        When the gold reaches the end customer, just take it away.

    • by Xugumad (39311)

      They don't even have to be that thorough, EULA and all that, they can ban you, your credit card, and your IP all in one go just for spamming, if they want. Heck, without double checking I'd be the EULA lets them ban you just because they feel like it (most EULAs do, because no-one reads them and it helps stop arguments over "fair" later).

      The issue is that a lot of this can be automated. Traffic can be routed through compromised systems (good grief, it's not like their spam-bots are lag critical), accounts c

      • by Pofy (471469)

        >Heck, without double checking I'd be the EULA lets
        >them ban you just because they feel like it (most
        >EULAs do, because no-one reads them and it helps
        >stop arguments over "fair" later).

        Too bad many (most?) countries have laws that doesn't alow you to just terminate a service you sold "for no reason" and won't allow for such a contract term in a consumer sold service either.

    • by maglor_83 (856254)

      No its not hard at all. Don't implement trade, and there won't be any gold sellers. Of course, this has other gameplay implications.

  • by TibbonZero (571809) <Tibbon AT gmail DOT com> on Monday September 22, 2008 @07:35PM (#25112401) Homepage Journal
    In making an MMORPG you've either got to decide to have an economy that can work with a worldwide populace and economy openly (Eve and Secondlife), or you really need to do something about it and close it up.
    When you think about it though, Goldfarming is simply someone forcing outsourcing of your leisure time for you. You don't want it to happen, they undercut you (as their time is nearly worthless) and they screw up the economy.
    Best of luck to them on this. Blizzard has completely failed in this aspect and their economy and absurd quests at times show it.
    • By contrast, games like Wurm [wurmonline.com] actively encourage users to simply purchase their in-game gold from their online store. Some players also sell in-game gold through forums at slightly lower rates.

    • Blizzard hasn't failed. Gold only gets you so far in WoW. At some point you have to go into dungeons and get the untradeable drops yourself.

    • by brkello (642429)
      Man, if you think Blizzard has failed, you haven't played any other MMO. Just look at the issue in FFXI, for example. Really, other than seeing a spam every now and then the economy is largely unaffected by gold farmers. You can't buy the best stuff and you can play the game just fine without purchasing gold.
  • Should be easy to ban. I don't go more than five minutes without a tell from a different person advertising gold.

    I've always wondered if gold sellers have someone working for them on the inside. Diablo 2, for example, had item sellers selling all of the best top tier items and runes approximately 3 hours after the ladder reset and everyone had to start fresh on the lader.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by chrome (3506)
      i think you'll find thats because Diablo 2 was pretty easy to hack.
  • "somebody parked a truck on our internet"

    That would put a big crimp in the tubes.

  • by Krater76 (810350) on Monday September 22, 2008 @08:01PM (#25112695) Journal
    While I don't condone the buying of gold I don't really understand what the problem is. There are many reasons for purchasing gold that are completely reasonable while very few reasons otherwise.

    Let's use WoW and it's epic flying price of 5000g for example. I ground 5k gold twice, the first time on a character I never play anymore due to a server and faction change, the second time on the differently factioned replacement. The grind is boring! And it's equally boring to have to do it a second time or more. Does someone paying $200 for 5k gold to pay for their epic flyer negatively affect the me or the game? Nope.

    Also, what about people just starting in the game after others have been in for years? They have a lot of trouble catching up to their friends. Purchasing gold can help them get there faster so they can be more interested in the game. I bet mature MMOs have probably lost a lot of opportunities to get players because coming into the game now is just too late. The same argument goes for leveling services.

    Frankly, there are no downsides to gold farming unless the farmers are preventing other players from doing something, like camping mob spawns. From my experience, they have very little affect on the economy as long as gold isn't the only way to advance your character.

    Wait, the random tells are annoying. But other than that what is there? The real problem is that someone is making money 'at the expense' (used very loosely) of the game designer and that wasn't intended. But that's called capitalism. Obviously it's a service people want, so why not give it to them? I would only ban gold sellers who advertise in game or in official forums and let people play the game as they like.
    • Simple principle: you shouldn't cheat in online games. Buying gold is cheating, so you shouldn't be buying gold.
      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        Who says it's cheating? If your friend gives you items or gold that's cheating too by your point of view. The only difference is that there is real money involved.

        • Uh, no, it isn't. That's entirely within the scope of the game, and is provided for by the rules of the game. Cheating is when you start bringing outside resources into play.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by nschubach (922175)

            I don't understand your logic. Using the in game transfer system to transfer gold you bought online is cheating. However, buying a strategy guide or a subscription to a website with tons of data is perfectly alright? The data you pay for in the strategy guide or map site is all composed by someone in the real world. Gold is composed by someone in the real world. Sharing it with someone for a fee or not is the same in both situations.

            I don't like gold farmers as much as the next guy (it makes it hard to

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Chris Burke (6130)

              I don't understand your logic. Using the in game transfer system to transfer gold you bought online is cheating. However, buying a strategy guide or a subscription to a website with tons of data is perfectly alright? The data you pay for in the strategy guide or map site is all composed by someone in the real world. Gold is composed by someone in the real world. Sharing it with someone for a fee or not is the same in both situations.

              It's the difference between gaining knowledge to help you in the game, and

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Akaihiryuu (786040)
      This is the main problem that people fail to understand. The gold that is "sold" by these guys is not earned through farming, or even legitimately. In fact, the sellers don't earn it at all. It is stolen from hacked accounts. The more people buy gold, the more incentive to produce keyloggers to get people's usernames/passwords, so that they can strip their toons naked, sell everything sellable, and send all the gold off to be "sold". This harms the game, regardless of which game it is.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The problem, regardless of what Blizzard may say, is that it has the potential to reduce income for Blizzard. If I pay $15 per month to play the game and then pay a goldfarmer a few hundred more so that I can instantly have access to all the nifty junk I want I can play for a few months and then perhaps get bored and cancel my account.
      Blizzard wants me to put in the hours/weeks/months for each and every item I want so that I have a reason to log in and play so that I keep paying that $15 month after month.

    • by TheLink (130905)
      Money laundering?

      I think many game companies will want to try to avoid the extra regulation that comes when you start allowing things that make the "real world" illegal stuff easier.
    • by tbannist (230135)

      The reasons are pretty simple, gold sellers and gold farmers make the game less fun for everyone else so that they can make a buck.

      Whether it's the mobs that are instantly tagged and killed, the materials that sell for next to nothing on the auction hall, the jerk that sits there yelling "Ch3ap G0ld N0W", the asshole who's uploading trogan horse programs to MMO related web sites to hack your account, or the simply the fact that you bought your way out of the fun of the game, it's just less fun when gold far

  • Based on the blog posts they don't even have a way for people to easily report gold spammers yet. That is pretty lame. It should be quite easy to add a right-click menu option for reporting/ignoring them as many other games have. That - and the in game messages spamming people to announce every time they ban a goldseller - makes it seem like a bit of a PR stunt.

    What I think would be cool is to implement a reporting system like the above and the offenders will be silenced from sending global messages a
    • by LingNoi (1066278)

      because whole guilds wouldn't exploit that now would they...

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Yet another reason why guilds are the downfall of the MMO. I could go on for pages on how guilds destroy socialization, trading, zone balance, quest balance, balance in general... but I'll just take the mod point hits for saying that guilds are the unions of modern day America. A lot of people looking for a easy ride who don't understand that they are only hurting themselves and making some power hungry cock sucker even more powerful.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger (819476)

      "What I think would be cool is to implement a reporting system like the above and the offenders will be silenced from sending global messages after a certain number of people report them."

      Bad idea. Large groups of people will grief regular players by mass reporting them.

      What would be better is to design the game in such a way that people don't want to buy gold, they'd rather play.

      Personally, I think a game like WoW would be MUCH better off if they simply allowed gold to be irrelevant - make it so all the st

  • The problem with a company allowing RW gold sales is that suddently theyve suddently attached a real monetary value to a virtual item and opened themselves up to countless liabilities.

    Say they alow gold selling, sudently all the items in your inventory are worth possibly thousands of dollars. Then what happens if your account gets hacked, or theres a server crash or something. What are you going to do? Sue the company for the value of your virtual items.

    It is much easier for the companies to say, gold selli

  • I need a gig. Can I be on your strike team? How much does it pay? I don't have to move to Ohio, do I?

  • From TFA:

    Mythic's claim is that Warhammer Online represents "the smoothest MMO launch to date." How do you back that up tangibly?

    Hah, what a huge lie. Warhammer Europe launch was quite bad, for example compared to the LOTRO launch a year earlier. It is also obvious they shipped the game too early - because it lacks a lot of polish. There are a lot of obvious bugs that I've encountered in the first 10 or so minutes:

    - The registration process for online downloads is convulted
    - The game forces you to accep

  • I saw the popup about someone being punished by the king or something, and later another about someone and was like "WTF?".

    My initial response was that this was probably futile, but these guys are annoying to the extent that they interfere with other peoples' experience by their invasive spamming. They have to spam in-game to advertise, so I guess it's not impossible for the dev's to keep on them, esp if they implement some sort of 'reporting' function like Blizzard has for inappropriate spam comments. Re

    • by T.E.D. (34228)

      I got one too. I've never actually seen anyone spamming for gold though.

      I'm not even sure why you would want to buy gold in WAR. The only thing I've ever found that I would have liked to do but couldn't do due to lack of player funds was redye (color) my entire outfit. Hardly a real hardship, as that stuff is just going to get replaced by better gear 20 minutes later anyway...

  • This MMORPG war on gold farming just seems to me like the USA's ridiculous War on Drugs. It seems to me that these things are true:

    1. People apparently want to buy gold.
    2. People apparently want to sell gold.

    My point is, from an observational standpoint, those two things appear to be facts. Therefore, fighting this is going to consume lots of time and resources (the game makers admit to having a "strike team" specifically for this purpose, which I assume costs them money), and at the end of the day, strike

  • I got one of those (Score:3, Interesting)

    by T.E.D. (34228) on Tuesday September 23, 2008 @11:36AM (#25121321)

    I was playing last night and got one of those messages. I wish I'd written it down now, but it was something along the lines of "Emperor Frobozz has banished Ruetard for activies against the empire". I was playing my empire ("good" human) priest at the time.

    I figured it *probably* meant they had just booted a gold-farmer, but it was kinda hard to be sure from the message.

    Its kind of cool to see that, but they did it rather annoyingly. They didn't put the message in the chat window, and didn't have it come up as big text on your play window either. They put it in a pop-up window that you had to dismiss by clicking on the "OK" button. If I'd been in the middle of a furball at the time that could have been deadly. I still *had* to stop what I was doing to read the darn thing and click it away.

UNIX is hot. It's more than hot. It's steaming. It's quicksilver lightning with a laserbeam kicker. -- Michael Jay Tucker

Working...