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Role Playing (Games) Games

ArenaNet Suspends Digital Sales of Guild Wars 2 233

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the ignore-the-exploit-over-there dept.
kungfugleek writes "Throughout the launch of subscription-free MMO Guild Wars 2, ArenaNet has stated that the player-experience is their top priority and, if necessary, they would suspend digital sales to protect their servers from crushing loads. While the launch has been considerably more stable than most big-budget MMO's in recent months, some players, especially those in Europe, have experienced trouble logging in and getting booted from servers. So yesterday, ArenaNet held true to their word, and temporarily suspended digital sales from their website. Personally, I think this is an incredible show of customer-centered focus. To turn down purchases, especially first-party purchases, where the seller gets a higher percentage of the sale, during a major title's first week of sales, would be inconceivable by other companies. Is this a bad move for ArenaNet? Will there be enough of a long-term payout to make up for the lost sales? And does this put pressure on other major studios to follow suit in the face of overwhelming customer response?" New submitter charlieman writes with related news: "Yesterday ArenaNet banned players for exploiting an error in their new game Guild Wars 2. The so called exploit was in fact an error on ArenaNet's side, leaving weapons at a low price from some vendors. Players saw this and started making profits buying and selling the items. Should players be penalized for errors committed by the game developers? Taking in account that the game is fairly new, the economy hasn't stabilized yet and most don't know the value of things. Today they've given these players a 'second chance', but shouldn't they be apologizing instead?"
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ArenaNet Suspends Digital Sales of Guild Wars 2

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  • Apologies? Nah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rs1n (1867908) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:06PM (#41193381)
    To be honest, I do not think it is necessary. Most folks know what is right from wrong in real life. The fact that it is a game means very little.
    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      This presumes that the buyer knew it was "wrong". I've played lots of games where certain markets were selling items below cost, and that gave the gamer a chance to be a trader (buy low; sell high). Had I been playing this ArenaNet game I would have thought that was the case.

      • by vux984 (928602) on Friday August 31, 2012 @06:04PM (#41195539)

        Had I been playing this ArenaNet game I would have thought that was the case.

        Uh. No. This is not Wing Commander privateer where iron is bought low on a mining asteroid and generates a modest profit when resold at a refinery world.

        This is more on par with buying iron low at the mining asteroid, selling it for a modest profit at the refinery, then noticing the refiner is listing the raw iron you just sold it for half what you paid at the asteroid. So you buy it all back, and then notice the refinery will pay you their original purchase price to buy it all back... so you sell it back to them at enourmous profit without any travel or risk at all.

        Then you see they are again selling it a fraction of the price you just sold it to them... so you stand there and repeat until you are wealthy enough to buy the refining world outright. Meanwhile telling yourself that there was nothing wrong with this because buying low and selling high and being a trader is a legitimate mechanic.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jmerlin (1010641)

          Except that in this case, the refiner was selling it for one currency, and would buy it from you for another currency. So you couldn't repeat the process indefinitely, instead, it served as a means to convert your one currency that you find useless (it is, totally useless) into something more valuable (the currency used on the auction house). It's not clear that this was unintended on ArenaNet's part, and it's not clear, if intended, what the exchange rate should be. We don't know what karma is meant to

      • Re:Apologies? Nah... (Score:5, Informative)

        by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Friday August 31, 2012 @08:34PM (#41196505) Journal
        They knew it was wrong.
        First, they only banned people who did it many, many times. The minimum for a ban (3-day, not even permanent) was over 100 times.
        Second, the items were seriously discounted. It would be like buying a car for the price of a soda. You'd have to have totally ignored the pricing on all other items to not notice it was wrong. Also, this was mid-level items, so you'd have to have ignored the prices on the low-level items vendor standing next to the mid-level vendor to not notice.
        Either the people banned were deliberately exploiting an obvious bug, or they were complete blithering morons.
  • by bjackson1 (953136) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:07PM (#41193401)
    If, for instance a electronic trading firm decided to offer shares at far below market price and I decided to buy, they only need to put in a call to their local stock exchange to cancel it. How is this any different? ArenaNet accidentally offered something for sale for too little money, and the players, being rational consumers bought at a low price and sold at a higher price. This is capitalism.
    • by Vaphell (1489021) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:38PM (#41193699)

      Though i agree the game is rigged against the common trader, that's not what happened in the recent case where misconfigured HFT algo blew $440 million in 45 minutes. They had to eat their losses.

    • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:42PM (#41193755) Homepage

      This is more akin to a bug in an ATM causing it to give you free money. It may be the fault of the bank but it's theft for you to exploit it and if you do get caught then you will be punished.

      • by Sir_Sri (199544)

        Except that in this case the ATM could spit out an infinite amount of money if you just stood there and kept hitting the same 2 button combination over and over.

        In game, buying once and reselling is technically an exploit, but it's also possible it was a legitimate buy, and a legitimate sell.

        Standing around for hours buying and selling to produce infinite money is obviously an exploit. Acquisition of money should be either rate limited, or entail risk. This was sort of rate limited by how fast you can cli

        • by makomk (752139)

          As I understand it, you couldn't actually get an infinite amount of free money this way. All you could do was exchange one in-game currency for another in-game currency at a much better price than ArenaNet intended. Since there was no path back in the opposite direction, the amount you could actually make this way was limited by the amount of the first currency you could get via other means.

          • All you could do was exchange one in-game currency for another in-game currency at a much better price than ArenaNet intended.

            Actually, you went from Karma->Gold, then from Gold->Gems, the latter currently has a real-money value of $10/800.

  • Exploiting errors (Score:5, Insightful)

    by admdrew (782761) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:08PM (#41193411) Homepage

    Should players be penalized for errors committed by the game developers?

    As a general statement, of course not. But these players *should* be penalized for knowingly exploiting those errors for profit - that goes against the spirit of the game, and lowers the general quality of play, things that should be greatly frowned upon when done intentionally.

    • by tom229 (1640685)
      What planet do you live on? You'll be waiting a long time if you think you're ever going to live in a world where people will just do the right thing out of principle.

      It was Areanet's mistake. Of course people took advantage of it, and you really can't punish them for it.
      • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:42PM (#41193751) Homepage

        What planet do you live on? You'll be waiting a long time if you think you're ever going to live in a world where people will just do the right thing out of principle.

        It was Areanet's mistake. Of course people took advantage of it, and you really can't punish them for it.

        Obviously, you can.

        • What planet do you live on? You'll be waiting a long time if you think you're ever going to live in a world where people will just do the right thing out of principle.

          It was Areanet's mistake. Of course people took advantage of it, and you really can't punish them for it.

          Obviously, you can.

          It does make me wonder if people who got banned this way who bought the game using a credit card can file a chargeback against ArenaNet and successfully win it.

      • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:50PM (#41193857) Homepage

        Why not? It's their server. They can do what they like. Should they allow their game to be ruined by the actions of stupid players. It's happened so many times in other games. If exploiters get banned early and often then that discourages other exploiters and keeps the game fair and the economy healthy.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        can you punish someone for taking advantage of an unlocked window?
        Yes, yes you can.

        And yes, this was obviously an exploit. Yes you can punish them for abusing it. Just like you can ban people for rude behavior.

      • by sjames (1099)

        It used to happen all the time not so very long ago. There would be considerable social pressure to do so and a good bit of shaming if you didn't.

        Then, faceless corporations started freely ripping people off and they had to do the same just to break even.

  • Payday for a lot of people (including myself), go onto site to buy it and oh look... Not sure I can be bothered waiting for amazon copy to arrive, being weekend and all...

    • by SScorpio (595836)

      You can always buy it from a local store or get a download copy from Gamestop. Amazon and other sites are listing the download version as out of stock.

      • Here's some links for the GameStop option: Digital Deluxe edition [impulsedriven.com] - regular edition [impulsedriven.com]
        • Can someone explain the "GameStop App" to me? Is it just a service for downloading the game or does it try to be Steam acting as some sort of management software? If possible, I'd like to download the game and forget I ever bought it at GameStop. Definitely not interested in another persistent application. Steam is enough in that regard.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Would you rather pay and download it and then not be able to use it?

      I know this concept seems to be getting lost, but..

      Set the money aside and save it. It will become available again.

  • by idontgno (624372) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:11PM (#41193441) Journal

    And I suppose being arrested for receiving stolen goods after taking advantage of a shady boot sale is also terribly unfair?

    There's this little voice in your head that says "this is too good to be legal," and you're supposed to listen to it.

    If you're a gamer and you found a way to make the game do something it clearly shouldn't let you do (i.e., teleport across the battlefield, buy high-end gear at unreasonably low prices, disconnect other players, etc.), you're exploiting. Period. And if you keep doing it, you're knowingly and intentionally exploiting. And a lifetime ban is simply the kindest thing you deserve.

    Contrary to popular opinion, "whatever you can get away with" is not a valid ethical choice, and if you get busted, whining about it just looks douchbaggish and immature.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sometimes I never know if these "exploits" are intended, and interact with features not yet revealed. For example, getting a super-cheap but overly powerful sword may endear you to a band of unsavory characters that tarnishes reputation and makes it difficult to do other things, or by performing what now seems to be an "exploit" is actually a feature that the game makes up for later by making something incredibly difficult.

      Put this another way: If you bought a blender and later found out it makes a better f

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      You don't have the right to decide what is a valid ethical choice or not. If you think it's not valid, that merely means that it doesn't pass muster under your ethics.

      • by ATMAvatar (648864)

        You are confusing ethics with morals. Ethics aren't relative to an individual.

        See the following [stackexchange.com].

        Ethics relates to a generalized concept of fairness and honesty, and you would be hard pressed to say that it is remotely honest to take advantage of an obvious bug hundreds if not thousands of times to make yourself rich. It is possible, it may very well be legal, and depending upon your upbringing and religion, it may even be moral to do so, but it is clearly unethical.

    • You see it with regards to breaking in to systems all the time. There's this attitude that it is 100% the responsibility of the user to secure their system and if they don't have perfect security, it is fair game to break in. That is not the law, of course, but geeks will argue the point continually. They think if you can do it in the electronic realm, that means it should be ok to do.

      Of course it always amuses me that none of them feel the same way about the physical world, they'd all be very mad if you br

    • by cpu6502 (1960974)

      >>>And I suppose being arrested for receiving stolen goods after taking advantage of a shady boot sale is also terribly unfair?

      Nice analogy but not really how it works. The store I used to work for was caught selling items higher than the tagged price. For example $49.99 Rockport shoes for $99.99. The store argued these were obvious clerical errors and the customers should not expect to get shoes for half price, therefore they had no right to demand 50 dollar refunds. The Texas Government argue

      • by admdrew (782761)
        I don't get the part where you compare retail goods with a computer game.
        • by dave562 (969951)

          The computer game has a retail economy. Many people are making the argument that players should have known that the price was too good to be true and therefore should not have purchased the items.

          In the real world, if goods are priced incorrectly, the merchant has to sell it for what the price tag says. The same logic carries over into the virtual world. The price on a good is the price the good sells for. If another merchant buys the good for more than it costs to buy it, a profit can be realized.

          To us

      • by rsborg (111459)

        THough in theory I agree with you on customer protections, there is a limit when buying and selling of these can effectively be used as arbitrage.

        So simply, when the products are bought in sufficient quantity as to be purchased for resale, then sold, it's more like a financial transaction than a purchase... and at that point the buyer loses the "customer protections".

        Note in this case ArenaNet only suspended those who traded excessive quantities that wouldn't indicate personal use. I say, good for ArenaNet

      • Uhh. What? ArenaNet should be fined by their local state government entity because some in-game items in a video game purchased with pretend video game money earned in a video game was marked as cheaper than the intended price?

        What?

    • There's this little voice in your head that says "this is too good to be legal," and you're supposed to listen to it.

      You roll Lawful Good characters, don't you?

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:12PM (#41193451) Journal

    The so called exploit was in fact an error on ArenaNet's side, leaving weapons at a low price from some vendors. Players saw this and started making profits buying and selling the items. Should players be penalized for errors committed by the game developers?

    Sorry, no sympathy. The people who got banned bought *thousands* of weapons. That falls *squarely* in the realm of exploiting game mechanics, it doesn't matter where the fault lies. This comment on Reddit says it best:

    There is no hard and fast line saying "this is not a bug, this is".

    However, there is a very clear line between "this is a bannable exploit, this is not".

    If you are in the gray area just playing the game the way it's meant to be played, even if you do take advantage of a bug once or twice, no one is going to ban you for it. In fact, Arenanet said people had abused it up to 50 times without getting anything.

    Now, if you find something that is obviously too good to be true, and run it into the ground, doing it hundreds and thousands of times: your very actions show you KNOW it's a limited time deal that will soon be fixed and you are trying to rack in as much ill-gotten gain as possible out of it. Then you get banned.

  • It's not at all unreasonable to ban players for exploiting.

  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:19PM (#41193511) Homepage

    I've heard this shit several times that if the developer doesn't produce magical bug-free code then dickheads have every right to exploit the shit out of the bug and ruin the game for everyone else as it's the 'fault of the devs' for 'letting them do it'. I've seen other MMO economies trashed by such stupidity on the part of the players and so at the very least temp bans should be handed out to discourage such retards from wrecking other people's enjoyment.

    • an easy fix for this for ArenaNet

      1 dupe the exploited weapons and make some sort of small edit to the copies (just enough so you can tell a pre exploit copy from a post exploit copy)

      2 in a couple weeks create some sort of Uber Creature (Like the Dresden Files He Who Walks Behind or a Doom II Cyberdemon) and have this creature spawn and stalk anyone using a pre exploit version.

      3 sit back and watch the problem solve itself

  • by admdrew (782761) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:19PM (#41193515) Homepage
    After a very cursory and unscientific perusal of the comments on reddit and slashdot, I find it interesting that (in general) slashdotters seem to more supportive of the banning of people who exploited the bug, while redditors seem to think that ArenaNet acted too harshly.
    • by Bieeanda (961632)
      I imagine that a lot of us are old enough to have been through this argument at least once before, and possibly many times back to UO and EQ. If you're exploiting --and let's be honest, you know when you're pulling a fast one-- you get the hammer.
  • by Necroman (61604) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:28PM (#41193585)

    About sales: the game is still available in box form from game stores and online (such as Amazon). The digital sale stop was not meant to completely stop incoming player population, just to slow it down.

    Furthermore on this topic, ArenaNet has been trying to keep the number of servers low so they don't end up with a lot of empty servers when the initial hype dies down. Though, due to player and guild names being globally unique, doing server merges are much easier compared to other games.

    About bans: ArenaNet is banning for exploiting because they want to send a very clear message that exploiting design errors will not be tolerated. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is and shouldn't be taken advantage of. There was an item for that that was selling for a fraction of its expected cost, so some people bought hundreds (or thousands) of that item to be used for other purposes (crafting and mystic forge). ArenaNet banned those player. People that did around 50-100 purchases just got a 3 day suspension.

    To add, people that were banned are being given the option to submit a customer service ticket and have their account unbanned and converted to a 72-hour suspension instead. They must also promise to delete any items or money they gained through the exploit. This was done as it was the first exploit found in the game.

    ArenaNet is doing all this to send a very clear message on how they expect their players to behave, and I'm happy they are.

    • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:39PM (#41193709) Homepage

      Reading what ArenaNet have done has made me very pleased that I bought the game. I've seen MMOs destroyed because exploiters and cheats were allowed free reign. The devs didn't seem to understand that if you tolerate the dickhead players then decent players leave. This then leaves a game full of arseholes that no-one new would ever stick around in. When the arseholes get bored and head off to destroy another game, the original game dies. ArenaNet clearly don't want this to happen and I personally think it's great.

    • About sales: the game is still available in box form from game stores and online (such as Amazon). The digital sale stop was not meant to completely stop incoming player population, just to slow it down.

      But are they shipping new boxes to stores? They can't do much about what stores already have in inventory.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CanHasDIY (1672858)

      About bans: ArenaNet is banning for exploiting because they want to send a very clear message that exploiting design errors will not be tolerated. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is and shouldn't be taken advantage of.

      To me, the legitimacy of the bans falls on the answer to one question: did ArenaNet make all players aware that the exploit existed, or did they just ban the people who found it incidentally?

      If the former, than I totally understand the ban; "Hey guys, there's a problem with this particular game mechanic, don't exploit it or we'll ban your ass." == fair enough.

      If the latter, than it's utter bullshit. It's not the gamer's fault that the game had such a major flaw, and if ArenaNet never told them "hey, t

      • by Necroman (61604)

        If you want to follow the whole thing yourself, ArenaNet has been very public about all of this, posting on Reddit with the information (they aren't posting on their own blog as they don't want to do anything else that will hammer their infrastructure with more traffic):

        Initial posting announcing the bans [reddit.com]
        Follow-up posting that will let people undo the ban and make it a suspension [reddit.com]

        A lot of people agree with you on this topic. I think the only reason they are letting people undo the bans is because of the bad

      • Actually a better analogy would be if Wal-Mart accidentally marked the price of Avatar to $1, but the customer service/return desk still saw it priced at $10. So a bunch of people went and bought a thousand copies of Avatar for $1 each and immediately returned it to the return desk for $10 each. While Wal Mart isn't going to prosecute anyone who did it a few times, you can bet they will press charges against someone who did it a thousand times..
        • Actually a better analogy would be if Wal-Mart accidentally marked the price of Avatar to $1, but the customer service/return desk still saw it priced at $10. So a bunch of people went and bought a thousand copies of Avatar for $1 each and immediately returned it to the return desk for $10 each. While Wal Mart isn't going to prosecute anyone who did it a few times, you can bet they will press charges against someone who did it a thousand times..

          Press charges? For what? It's not theft, since Wal-Mart is the one who set the pricing, so what crime could they possible charge someone with?

          They could, perhaps, sue the individuals playing the buy-return-buy game, but the question there is, what would be the legal basis of Wal-Mart's case?
          If the best they have is "Your Honor, we mispriced one of our products and people took advantage of it!" I would presume a (US) judge fluent in economics would likely reply, "Welcome to capitalism, now get the hell ou

  • Ok what does "exploiting" means? In this case I don't read that anybody has crack the software, install a hack, spool a server...etc. They did whatever allowable within the game mechanics. Ok thousands of items bought on "unreasonable" price (what's 'unreasonable in a game?) sounds like an 'exploit' but where's the line? 10 items? 100? Also, every single players in the game can do that because it is allowable game mechanics, with everything being equal. Say, what if it's an "early bird time-limited Ea
    • by geekoid (135745)

      exploit means someone abusing what is an obvious bug to the layman.
      Granted sometimes that can be hard, but not in this case.

      Don't compare it to real life. If the owner of the store was buying soda for 2 bucks a six pack, and the it rang up for a dollar, it would be pretty obvious a mistake. Now, should the one person get it at the wrong price? sure, but the merchant can fix it on the spot so it doesn't happens again.

  • by FlynnMP3 (33498) on Friday August 31, 2012 @02:50PM (#41193855)

    "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

    There are people out there that forget this, or flat out don't believe in that line of thinking. Cheating is cheating, whether in a game or in real life. Unfortunately, my nephews were brought up believing it is perfectly fine to use public aid as much as you possibly can regardless if you actually need it or not. The problem is, their yardstick for measuring what needs are is broken compared to what hardworking folk would think. Most people will file these things under desires or even luxuries, but seldom are they actually needs. For my nephews, that line of thinking easily crosses over into computer games. They think that because they found a way to "beat the system" means they should do it as often as possible before it gets changed. Their morality compass is skewed by how they were brought up to think. They honestly find nothing wrong with it. Their normal mode of thinking is selfish, and they never think about how their actions will affect others in the same group.

    This is just my nephews, who unfortunately, were brought up this way. I know of many more people, some personally, some through friends, that have this same type of default mode of thinking. I will even go as far to generalize that this type of thinking can be very generational - as in it is passed down generation through generation.

    Kudos for ArenaNet for towing the line and banning people who are obviously exploiting game inconsistencies or bugs. With a system this complex, nobody can expect everything to be 100% correct all the time.

    For a different example, I was watching a YT vid of a GW2 raid. The leader of the raid was actively telling the other people how to use positional exploits to avoid damage so they could get through content without much danger. That kind of thing pisses me off. For almost exactly the same reasons. It almost makes me wish there was a community reward program for reporting players like this. Unfortunately, I fear there is more room for abuse then what good it would do.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Example? the game is designed so you can hid behind and move around items. I don't know if that was the case in your circumstance.
      BTW, that's a two way street.

      IT's not generational, there have always been people who think that way.
      IN the case of computer games, sometimes it can be hard to determine a bug and a feature. Not in the case, it's pretty obvious that a merchant wouldn't buy things for more then they would sell them for... unless the developer intended the player to be able to get the merchant drun

      • by FlynnMP3 (33498)

        This person was hiding inside world geometry to avoid taking damage. There was nothing subtle about it. I agree with you that there are valid battle tactics that are positional. Hiding behind pillars during certain attacks for example. Regarding your second example, if killing the centaurs in that method presents little or no danger to your character, and you're are able to kill thousands of them for some greater than average benefit (quest items, trade materials, gold), then you should bring it up to the

  • of an obvious bug is an exploit. Right or wrong, it's just rude.
    Just because you don't chain up your bike, doesn't mean it's ok is someone takes it.
    The developer side of things need to be done internally.
    Frankly. I hope they were able to take the money they made away from the people who did it more then once.

    .

  • Unexpected boon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday August 31, 2012 @03:06PM (#41194045) Journal

    I know I didn't anticipate it, but one of the unforseen benefits of a "no monthly fee" game is that they can do this - flat-out BAN players who exploit the game, or who ignore repeated warnings.

    Anet has made a significant effort to warn people about names like Penishead or FloppyTitLover as inappropriate, giving them 72 hours to think about it when they don't change.

    And they've aggressively suspended accounts for people shouting 'faggot' over general chat.

    Now they flat-out ban people that are obviously exploiting the game.

    I don't care if it's dull as checkers, I'm going to buy their next expansion just to show me support for this behavior.

    What I find particularly pathetic is that people are having so much trouble over this. "But there's no stated POLICY that I couldn't name my toon 'D1cksm0ker'!" and
    "They didn't rez me, so I got angry and called them a faggot on chat, so what, free speech!"
    If you sincerely have trouble understanding appropriate conduct and inappropriate conduct in these obvious circumstances, either your parents failed or you're starting to believe the internet libertarian lawyer brigade who assert that if it isn't specifically prohibited, it's practically mandatory.

    Personally, I prefer a world in which there ARE social norms like saying please and thank you, and not calling someone a "cocksucker" just because they play better than I do in pvp. I don't find the behavior boundaries that hard to conform to, nor do most people.

  • by Tom (822)

    You have a gap in your logic there. Players were not punished for the error, but for EXPLOITING the bug.

    Open window? Your problem. Me climbing in? Breaking and entering. It really is that simple

  • ...by pirating. Because information wants to be free, maaan, and you have no right to keep it from us.

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