Today I was invited to a panel discussion about cheating and botting at Quo Vadis Berlin. With me on the panel were Marian Härtel, a lawyer who represents a major botting company, Robert Maroschik, who makes cheat tools (for single player games, admittedly) and Arne Peters from the ESL.
We all quickly agreed that cheating in single player games is not an issue for anyone, so the rest of the discussion revolved around online games. Our respective roles in that were pretty clear and what followed was not very surprising.
The pro-botting/pro-cheating faction mainly made the following arguments:
- players are cheating and even paying money for cheats, so there is a demand
- there is no proof that bots are actually hurting online games; they might even improve retention by helping players over the worst grind
- the legal situation is complicated
- game developers should learn from bots/cheats where their game is lacking
- shouldn’t we cooperate rather than fight?
I honestly think that those arguments are pretty silly.
Let’s talk about cheating first. Cheating in online games is pretty much the same as hacking. In a cleanly designed online game the server has authority over everything, so cheating is only possible if you find a vulnerability in the server code. Such errors are hopefully quickly discovered and fixed.
Which leaves botting. Our community hates bot users. Just like cheaters. That is honestly all the reason we need to fight this. Albion Online is a competitive game and our players expect a level playing field. Are bots hurting that premise? Absolutely. The question whether there can be a “good” bot is similar to the firearms discussion in the US. Sure, guns can be used for good and bad, but if you legalize guns you have to live with the fact that innocent people get shot. A lot. It is still a crime and the parties responsible will likely go to prison but that is what will happen. Bots are the same. Yes, there may be legitimate uses for bots, but there is a thin red line where botting becomes cheating and bot uses will constantly cross it. That is why banning bots completely is pretty much the only choice we have.
The fact that players use bots also does not mean that the game is lacking. Player are very good at spoiling the game for themselves. The main reason to use cheats and bots is to outdo other players. Cheating is only fun if you cheat on somebody.
So can bot developers help us developers? I do not think so. If I wanted to add a particular feature to my game I am perfectly capable of doing that myself.
So a question I have, and other people begin to ask the same thing.
If cheating is a big problem why did Albion Online, know about gold sellers during Beta, okay to put it nice, I was life-banned the last beta simply because I accepted two trades with someone on voice comms who was involved with illegal activity, I did not know this I think being a 4 year backer this was all stupid, but drama aside Korn the developer clearly accused me and told everyone that the gold came from illegal credit card fraud.
Getting to the point, the game launched 2 months later with no restrictions, and as a result people besides myself guilds like Iron Bank had to pay the price of these no good for nothing gold sellers who came into the game did fraud and passed the gold off using it to buy out land plots.
Why didn’t SBI do anything to prevent this, and why does SBI threaten its customers with life-time bans just for accepting trades in game from someone who turns out to have done something illegal, I could understand if this happened often but sometimes people cross paths with someone who is doing something they shouldn’t and they shouldn’t be punished for someone elses actions aka myself and others who were threatend with that signin screen message telling us we can get banned for freely trading.
Yet the other Drama of SAYA on the albion forums accepting free items / currency which btw is illegal under the terms of service as it has nothing of equal value in return but SBI allows this, how is this different than me receiving 100k gold during investment which was to upgrade my islands and got me banned because they obtained currency through illegal means something I never thought people would do to me, and btw ( I PAID NO REAL MONEY FOR ANYTHING THROUGH ANY SITE OR SERVICE.)
You wonder why Albion is dying, it’s dying because this company has made the worst decisions ever, banned 4 year backers for one little mistake of not knowing someone they trusted did something illegal, yeah go figure I would still love my account back, or my $165 back, it’s not that I can’t afford the loss it’s the principle of losing moeny to a game company that has stolen from me I feel SBI needs to pay.
Make Albion great again !
I am sorry if you were indeed unjustly banned. I cannot comment on the concrete case since I am not involved in these matters. You would have to discuss this with our community management team.
All I can say is that gold seller money is indeed mostly from stolen credit cards and/or PayPal accounts and therefore anyone buying in-game-currency from these people is an accessory to the crime. The problem is that while the exchange of in-game-currency has to happen in the game and can therefore be monitored by us, the transfer of real money to the illegal gold sellers is beyond our reach. We can only assume that if a known gold seller is giving you gold, it is because you paid him to do that. Why else?
why you all quickly agreed that cheating in single player games?