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EVE Bans Exploiters; Dropping 2% of Users Cuts Average CPU Usage 30% 261

Posted by Soulskill
from the and-stay-out dept.
Earthquake Retrofit writes "Ars has a story about EVE Online banning thousands of accounts for real-world trading of in-game money for profit. From the article: 'Those who buy and sell ISK, the game's currency, are not only exploiting the game, but unbalancing play. That's why the company decided to go drastic: a program they called "Unholy Rage." For weeks they studied the behavior and effects these real-money traders had on the game, and then they struck. During scheduled maintenance, over 6,000 accounts were banned. [Einar Hreiðarsson, EVE's lead GM,] assures us that the methods were sound, and the bannings went off with surgical precision. ... While the number of accounts banned in the opening phase of the operation constituted around 2 percent of the total active registered accounts, the CPU per user usage was cut by a good 30 percent.' Looks like they got the right 6,000.' Further information and more graphs are available from the EVE dev blog."
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EVE Bans Exploiters; Dropping 2% of Users Cuts Average CPU Usage 30%

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  • About time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stoat (125788) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:16AM (#29155493)

    They shouldn't pat themselves on the back too hard over this. The playerbase has been pushing for it for years.

  • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:21AM (#29155543) Journal

    They shouldn't pat themselves on the back too hard over this. The playerbase has been pushing for it for years.

    I don't play the game, but these guys just forfeited 2% of their profits. And you're saying "about time"?

    Knowingly cutting that kind of revenue requires more than balls, my friend. That requires the confidence that doing this is going to bring at least that 2% back. That it does not scare away more that are exploiting that haven't been caught. These guys took a chance for ideals of the players. There should be nothing but kudos from the community and an understanding that they have your best interests in mind despite scandals in the past.

    I applaud their efforts and found the analysis of "unholy rage" more extensive than anything I've ever seen an MMO release. It almost makes me want to pick up the game and see what it's about. The only thing holding me back is that I have heard it's quite monotonous at first.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:24AM (#29155553)

    "2% of their profits" isn't something you could possibly know. They are claiming that cutting the players reduced their system load by 20%, so the loss of 2% of their revenues might have been offset by lower per user costs and increased their profits, even if they never make it up new users.

    It's likely that you were just being sloppy, but what does that matter?

  • by ivucica (1001089) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:27AM (#29155593) Homepage

    Banning 2% players to decrease CPU usage by 30% is not obvious.

  • Re:About time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:29AM (#29155605) Journal

    I don't play the game, but these guys just forfeited 2% of their profits. And you're saying "about time"?

    Knowingly cutting that kind of revenue requires more than balls, my friend. That requires the confidence that doing this is going to bring at least that 2% back. That it does not scare away more that are exploiting that haven't been caught. These guys took a chance for ideals of the players. There should be nothing but kudos from the community and an understanding that they have your best interests in mind despite scandals in the past.

    Getting rid of the 2% that ruins the game for everyone else does a lot better for the game than trying to keep them in just because they offer extra 2% profit. Maybe someone has left the game because of that and now wants to go back to try it again. Maybe more players will join (they did get article to slashdot again, and probably to lots of other sites). As you see from the analysis, you also see that this 2% used a lot more cpu etc resources than normal players and affected stability of systems aswell, so they save extra there.

    I've been wondering long time if I should try EVE and last time I read that you could quite nicely do mining on background while doing work and other stuff on internet. Now that they got rid of these people, maybe it would be even nicer experience for me.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stoat (125788) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:34AM (#29155635)

    So cutting 2% of their income vs freeing up 30% of server resources equates to a loss of profit now huh? I wonder what happens when all those farmers just make new accounts.

    I guess you weren't around when they were spending tons of money on new hardware/pissing off the playerbase removing bookmarks/anchored containers to reduce database load.

  • by ivucica (1001089) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:34AM (#29155637) Homepage

    Unless you are a CCP developer, it is not obvious for you as a reader of Slashdot summary.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:35AM (#29155641) Journal

    And now they will save money when they dont need to buy so many new servers to cater to people who used 30% more resources.

    Also its not immediate 2% loss. Maybe the gold farmers bought new accounts (they do it for money anyway). Those bans also were only temporary first. After it expired and account returned to same activies, it was only banned completely then.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:40AM (#29155667)

    Stop being so stubborn, you don't have a point at all. A Slashdot reader cannot predict the exact value, but a Slashdot reader knows that a CCP developer has access to enough information to make the estimation. Hence, it's obvious.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:40AM (#29155673)

    Profits and revenues are different things. They certainly lost revenues, but neither one of us knows how they use their revenues, and how that translates into profits; maybe their hardware costs are 1% of their revenues, and overtime dealing with complaints about RMT users was 3% of revenues (that's probably silly, but it's possible).

    The sloppy is in pretending that revenues and profits are the same thing. As far as being an ungrateful gamer, I'm not either, I'm simply encouraging you to think about what you are saying before you say it.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chrono11901 (901948) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:54AM (#29155757)

    They also agreed to the same set of rules as everyone else... Such as no boting/exploiting.

    If you don't agree with the rules, don't play. If you break the rules, don't bitch when you have to face the consequences.

  • gaming the system? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by isd.bz (1260658) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:59AM (#29155787)
    I find it kind of funny (ironic, Alanis?) that using software to 'game the system' and create money out of thin air is dealt with swiftly and with 'surgical precision', and when Goldman Sachs does the same thing with the stock markets, they are dealt with by being provided protection from the SEC and FBI.
  • by goodmanj (234846) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:15PM (#29155881)

    A) your comparison between real life execution and losing your account in a video game made me throw up a little bit.

    B) You want to add an interesting new "fugitive" mechanic to the game, which requires players to abuse the game to experience? And you think this will *reduce* game abuse? You have a lot to learn about MMOs, my friend.

  • Re:loss of money? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:17PM (#29155889)

    You know, not everywhere is like the US.

    I've lived all over the world, including the US, and only in America do people sue at every opportunity. I think it is a real sign of a sickness in American culture, and your comment reminded me of it.

  • Re:loss of money? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by raftpeople (844215) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:24PM (#29155935)
    If they've broken the terms of a contract, it is the correct method of resolution.
  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino (614729) * on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:01PM (#29156155) Journal

    However, people selling ISK is a different story.

    Not if it's against the same rules.

  • Re:About time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:34PM (#29156375)

    So maybe people should have specified GROSS profits? Yes, net profitability may go up if this cuts Eve's operating costs, and quarterly gross profit may go back up for separate reasons (i.e. this attracts new players or causes dissatisfied former players to return, or both.). Still, this move directly impacts immediate gross profit, and that's something we can reliably know (those of us who have studied small scale economics).
          Since you didn't make the distinction in your comments either, I'm unclear what you think 'eldavojon' was being sloppy about. Maybe he or someone else should specify what they think will happen to reported quarterly gross and net profits, research whether Eve's parent company is publicly traded, and so on, and if it is, talk stock price effects, and so on, but that doesn't sound like what you mean, offhand, so I must confess I'm puzzled.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KibibyteBrain (1455987) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:46PM (#29156465)
    That is begging the question. The whole point of the distinction between profit and revenue is that the profit margin can change as a function of revenue. Say you make $5k a month in revenue by working a job in NYC, but it costs you $k a month to live there. You are offered a new job in Kentucky that pays only $4k per month, but would cost only $1k per month to maintain the same standard of living. Yikes, thats a 20% drop in revenue. But wait, now you are clearing $3k per month and not only $2k, or a profit Increase of 50%! /3rd grade Now back to business. One of the main technical challenges of EVE is the fact they only have one virtual world, and they devote a ton of engineering and server resources to somehow make that happen. So its very likely the monetary cost of %load varies exponentially with the %load. But the cost per user is linear. So killing user who use disproportionate load will ALWAYS be profitable with these cost functions as long as the total number of users remains above the critical value where the exponential (offset by fixed costs) intersects the line.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:54PM (#29156505) Homepage Journal
    Those guys run their bots round the clock, while even the most dedicated human might manage 7-10 hours a day. So it's not surprising that they're consuming a lot more resources than everyone else.

    I wonder if this has freed up any chunks of low-sec space. I've heard rumors of vast tracts of isk farmer territory where automated mining operations go on 'round the clock. And if that's how they were making all their isk, creating new accounts won't help much if they've lost the defenses that made maintaining that space viable in the first place.

  • Re:About time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:58PM (#29156517)
    Your argument has devolved to "They lost 2% of SOMETHING".

    They lost about two percent of their revenue. Maybe this means they lost 100% of their profit; maybe they just increased their profit by 100%. You have no way of knowing what this did, because you don't know the amount of fixed expenses, nor the expense of these particular accounts.

    However, for an mmorpg running a bank of servers, a 30% reduction in processing is a HUGE reduction in expenses. Whether the savings was immediately taken the next day by selling servers or not is meaningless. Even if they never reduced the number of servers, they just added a huge amount of future expandability, for a relatively negligible price.
  • Re:About time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by maxume (22995) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:19PM (#29156655)

    The whole point is that we don't know anything about the cost of revenues for the accounts that were banned, so we can't talk meaningfully about any sort of profits, we can only speculate. We can assume that the costs are similar to the costs for other accounts, but that gets sloppy quite quickly.

  • by JacksBrokenCode (921041) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @02:19PM (#29156657)

    I find it kind of funny that, despite things like this, there are still people who think more government is the answer.

  • by Ironchew (1069966) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @04:00PM (#29157255)

    Less government certainly exacerbates the problem. The answer would depend on your political view. More of the status-quo government with deep private financial connections and an oppressive world military? Or a reformed government with more direct citizen action and more severe representative accountability to their constituents? The people who want more government regulation want more of a public say, since the public almost always gets saddled with the losses of financial irresponsibility.

    Nobody likes the current corporatist system, except the few who benefit.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @04:00PM (#29157257)

    Please, this is a huge misunderstanding of what makes markets work. You can't create money out of thin air by trading on stock markets. After all, it takes two *consenting* parties to make a trade. You can create money by taking on risks that other people aren't willing to-- that is, you get paid for bearing risk. This comes in many forms.

    It could be holding on to a bankrupt company's stock, which might be worth $0 when the bankruptcy is over, but it might be worth $1. The expected value might be $.50, but most people would sell at $.30 because they don't want the risk or don't want to deal with bankruptcy court. This is one way distressed investors make money.

    You can make money by buying stocks that went down yesterday and selling stocks that went up. There is a small amount of mean-reversion in the stock market, so the expected value of this strategy is positve. However few investors will adopt this strategy because it's very risky-- after all, what if the stock is just about to go bust or if it's starting to rally? This can also be done at smaller time scales. This is one way quant hedge funds and high-frequency traders make money.

    You can make money by making markets. That is, you always are willing to sell some stock, and you always are willing to buy some stock. There's a spread between your prices, so you make money on average. However, this is a very risky strategy because you may end up selling a lot of stock at low prices, and buying a lot at high prices, before you are able to make up the difference with money earned from the spread. This is one way brokers and high-frequency traders make money.

    You can make money by selling derivatives and hedging them. Mathematical finance shows how to replicate on option on stock by constantly buying and selling the underlying stock. Because few people are willing and able to execute the hedging strategy, you can sell derivatives for a significant premium over the cost to hedge them. This is one way more sophisticated brokers and quant hedge funds make money.

    As I've hopefully made clear, there are lots of ways to make money without ripping anybody off. These are all win-win situations for the market players: One side makes money on average for taking risks (or providing a service) that the other is willing to pay for.

    Goldman Sachs does not make money out of thin air. They make money because people are paying them for their services, primarily market-making and derivatives. (Although Goldman has many other non-stock-market services, too, such as investment banking and asset management.)

    (Most of this could be said for the video game issue, too. The currency markets are about one party paying another for a service. But it's different, because games are supposed to be FUN.)

  • Re:About time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FlyingBishop (1293238) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @09:32PM (#29159837)

    I haven't played either game, but it seems evident to me that EVE has a much more complex economy than Asheron's Call, and that gold trading screws with the economy considerably. There are no individual servers, any user's actions affects every other user. Market instability is a real issue for playability.

    And in any case, the drain on the servers caused by bots requires significant infrastructure increases.

  • Re:About time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by iamangry (1463943) on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:48AM (#29163511)

    Right, cause its ok to hack and disrupt everyone else's positive experience of the game. You're one of those 13 year old kids that thinks its "really cool" to get "super h4x" and then take them onto ranked/public/hack free servers, aren't you? The rules are there for a reason, and CCP is not required to give them service any more than any other game, especially since the actual copy of the game is totally free.

    Cause hackers... suck so hard that not only can they not get laid, they can't even play video games well either! Piles of n00bey epic failure.

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