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

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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  • loss of money? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:22AM (#29155547)

    I'm sure their user agreement spells out that they can ban you for any reason at any time and owe you nothing. But that was before they started selling imaginary property outside the game. THis legitimizes the ingame value of the stuff they just "took" from you without compensation. I bet there are a few in that 6000 that will sue. Might set an interesting precedent if it's not all settled out of court.

  • Re:About time (Score:1, Interesting)

    by taoye ( 1456551 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:32AM (#29155617)
    He read it. I was one of those frustrated players. For quite a while, too, I actually started playing back in Summer 2003. This crap was one of the main reasons why I eventually stopped playing the game. Had CCP bothered to deal with this problem in any meaningful way years ago, perhaps I'd still be forking over $12 / month.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @11:54AM (#29155759)

    EVE themselves allow players to buy gold with real money. You can buy 60-day GTCs (game time codes) which allow you to purchase 2 months of game time. EVEs own website allows you to exchange these GTCs for in-game currency. So if you want, you can buy as many GTCs as you like, sell them via EVE, and buy yourself the ship of your dreams.

    With a large percentage of the gold farmers killed off, anybody wanting to buy gold will have to do it through EVE. The net result is that many more GTCs are sold, generating lots of extra revenue for EVE

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

    by Planesdragon ( 210349 ) <slashdot.castlesteelstone@us> on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:02PM (#29155809) Homepage Journal

    The only thing holding me back is that I have heard it's quite monotonous at first.

    Find friends in-game ASAP. Eve does not get any less monotonous as you progress -- you just eventually find friends, and it becomes worth it.

    If you want to play Eve as PvE, you're essentially playing "how big can my wallet get." It's mindless boredom, and was why I quit when all my RL friends did. I picked it up only when they did, and if I didn't have friends in-game I wouldn't play.

    OTOH... if you want to go for PvP, (which you CAN do on day 1) then there's no better game than Eve.

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

    by fooslacker ( 961470 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @12:22PM (#29155921)
    Depending on data center costs and decommissioning cycles and billing cycles it is probably that this isn't an immediate 2% hit but for the sake of argument let's assume it is. That said I'm guessing they've done the business case to realize that a 20% reduction in infrastructure costs will pay back their 2% drop in profits within X number of months and that X is short enough time frame to affect yearly operational costs in a positive way for several years to come. Additionally it affects taxes and assets and all sorts of things. I don't know how they justified it but I'm pretty sure there was a positive business case before they did something like this.

    Data center costs are brutal for companies with significant infrastructure. Most people don't realize how expensive servers are to run day in and ay out. In a top tier data center it sometimes costs as much or more to run a server for a year than it did to originally buy it, and we're not talking dells from best buy we're talking about $20K+ machines ranging on up to ridiculous numbers for some SunOracle boxes. Once you add in things like the land lease, the power, the telecoms, redundancy, depreciation on the facility, labor, etc. it becomes a rather significant cost. If they don't decide to decommission the freed up capacity right away to get the savings it gives them options for deferred spending or for various corporate trade in programs which allow corps to treat servers like cars and get a good bit off of the next gen, generally cheaper due to efficiency gains versions of hardware. Additionally these days most companies outsource the data center work and are locked into various contracts for given periods of time so the only recourse they have to be more efficient on the infrastructure front is to use less until the next contract cycle comes up.

    Again, I have no idea what their numbers look like but it's not crazy to think that a 20% reduction in infrastructure usage could have a very good business case with a very short payback time.
  • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:43PM (#29156431)

    Let me state at the outset that I am a big fan of just about everything Eve.

    Disclaimer out of the way, the dirty secret in Eve is that it's real tough to make money as a "glamorous combat pilot." Hi-Sec miner, hi-sec industrialist -- you're swimming in cash. But that's not the glamorous, exciting game one sees in the promos that attracts the curious to play the game. THAT game, the "pew pew" of lasers, the mighty racket of autocannons blazing, the squeal of the drones as they shred your enemies' armor -- exciting as all hell, but costly. The profit margin just ain't there, unless you're really, really good. If you're part of a large null-sec Corp that can replace your ships when they (inevitably) are wiped out when you are jumped by a much larger force, you'll get by, but if you're some lone wolf sociopathic space pirate, you'll be holding your ship together with duct tape and using hurled rocks as ammo in no time.

    These are the guys who are the ISK farmers' clients. These guys, who comprise most of the lo-sec game (as opposed to hi-sec and null-sec) are the players affected by the farmer clamp-down. What will be the fall-out when they can't run to their real-world "suppliers" to re-tool? Will these guys leave the game? Join a more established Corp? Switch careers? Grow up? It'll be interesting to watch...

  • by Shinobi ( 19308 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @01:56PM (#29156513)

    As a high-sec miner, you're piss-poor. The real money from mining comes from the alliances who can hold space out in 0.0 and mine the valuable ores there. Holding space requires combat pilots. Supplying combat pilots with ships and ammo requires industrialists to run manufacturing and logistics. But overall, the big money is in market trading, 0.0 mining/moon materials and complexes.

    This last week, I've logged a total of 4 hours in EVE, yet made a 2.8Bn ISK profit, due to market trading. Revenue is up over 10Bn ISK.

  • Re:About time (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @03:27PM (#29157047)

    "Most people don't realize how expensive servers are to run day in and ay out. In a top tier data center it sometimes costs as much or more to run a server for a year than it did to originally buy it, and we're not talking dells from best buy we're talking about $20K+ machines ranging on up to ridiculous numbers for some SunOracle boxes."

    Unfortunately, even more people don't realise the real requirements to run an MMO, and in fact, it's not that high. There is no reason a game like Eve would need anything like what you might call a top tier data centre.

    Whilst Eve has a single concurrent universe, it is heavily zone based, meaning a network of cheap servers is all that would be required. In fact, Dark Age of Camelot was capable of handling a few thousand players on basic commodity PC - yes, of the type you could buy at Best Buy. Whilst this wasn't an idea you'd want to use long term because you don't have the redundancy you require from commodity PCs to run an MMO long term they did at points use them to relieve pressure on high volume servers. They also used simply MySQL on Linux for their database backend.

    You do not need $20k servers to run an MMO. You also do not need a bigger server room than you would at most small to medium sized companies, a single run of the mill blade server should be able to handle 500 to 1000 clients with ease (probably more for Eve in fact as it's a relatively slow paced game). As modern blade racks can hold over 100 servers nowadays, a single rack would in fact be plenty enough to run Eve's full, 30,000 to 50,000 player universe.

  • Re:About time (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 22, 2009 @04:22PM (#29157375)

    As I understand it, the cards are a way that a player can trade bought playing time between themselves on the market, which means that somebody paid real money for it.
    The official way to get fake money for real money is to buy these and sell them for ISK, which ensures the money go to the game developers (and saves them from money laundering woes) and stimulates the in-game market.
    If you trace the money, effectively some people are paying other people's subscriptions in return for them providing in-game services. It's pretty impressive as an economics model.

  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Saturday August 22, 2009 @07:44PM (#29159023)

    EVEs own website allows you to exchange these GTCs for in-game currency.

    Actually, it doesn't.

    A GTC can be used to create an in-game item (one or more PLEXes) which is good for 30 days game time when used by a player in game. PLEXes can be sold to other players for ISK using the normal in-game market.

    As a result, there's a lot of EvE players who "pay" for the game using in-game currency.

    So, CCP still gets paid, established players can play "for free", and people who just can't wait to buy a new shiny get their instant gratification.

  • by ErikZ ( 55491 ) * on Sunday August 23, 2009 @10:22AM (#29163375)

    I found Eve to be long and boring. Then I discovered I could buy ISK!

    Finally I could get some decent ships and play without the ridiculous grind. Then one day I logged in and my accounts had been debited for the amount of ISK I had purchased. Even with my near gear it would take an intolerable amount of grinding to catch up.

    Grinding (Mining) in Eve is more annoying than in any other game I've played. It's at a pace where you can't just do something else, but it's slow enough where you keep on trying.

    Running player created missions will get you killed because they're designed to send you somewhere where you can be ganked by them

    Doing anything solo in any sector is either a waste of time or a death sentence.

    So you have to be a slave to some group to make any progress. Wheeee. After a day of slaving for a real company, you go home and be a slave to a virtual one. This game is not for the Han Solo types out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 23, 2009 @11:53AM (#29163939)

    As someone noted in a post above, the people doing this for real world money are typically the ones that bot and cheat. The challenge of the game itself is replaced with the challenge of maximizing your intake by whatever means necessary.

    Some games aren't bothered by this type of behavior too greatly. I remember WoW having a large number of gold sellers, but up until WotLK (at which point I unsubscribed) I don't ever remember inflation, cheating, botting, etc. ruining my experience.

    The main post of my post - is that this is not always the case. RMT (real money trading) ruined Final Fantasy XI. Thousands of people quit when rampant inflation ruined the economy. Thousands of people quit when end game consisted of camping a spawn against people using bots and hacks. It spiraled way out of control, and Square did nothing to combat it.

    FFXI is a good example of why Eve dropped 2% of its customer base - because the unchecked alternative can ruin a game.

"The pathology is to want control, not that you ever get it, because of course you never do." -- Gregory Bateson