Karma is a Bitch

 Posted by on August 31, 2012  Guild Wars 2, MMO Gaming, Oh shit maths
Aug 312012

If you’re a European player, chances are you probably missed the fireworks last night from ArenaNet’s latest status update that rolled into the early morning. Not only have the developers been busy coping with the popularity of their game (to the point that they’ve stopped selling digital copies on their own website) but they’ve also been dealing with account hackings, botting and exploits.

Most of the drama last night came from the permanent termination of around 3000 accounts that seriously engaged in exploiting a karma merchant who offered items for 1 thousanth the normal price. 1000 more will need to ride out a 72 hour ban for giving in to temptation but not taking it to extremes. There’s been a lot of debate on Reddit and Twitter about if this approach is right or wrong on an individual basis, but I’m not sure anyone has considered the big picture.

I had a quick total up the replies to all the people who posted their character names on Reddit asking how many times they exploited. The answer: 15,028 times from 55 people. If we take the average number of times someone exploited and multiply that up by the number of perma banned accounts, that’s 819709 items (estimate). That is a huge number of items especially considering only 1912 (estimate) should have been possible to purchase with that quantity of karma.

That large number of items would have had an impact on the economy. What’s more disturbing perhaps is that this represented 0.3% of the total playerbase. Imagine if the trading post and mail system hadn’t been down, or if people hadn’t spread the exploit so publically. This could have taken far longer to identify and the damage would have been done and spread. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d love to be playing Guild Wars 2 in 4 years time without a messed up economy and with the developers being able to concentrate on making their game better rather than chasing those who try to break it.

I’m personally with ArenaNet in handing out the bans (even if they can now be revoked). It’s a clear message to anyone who exploits that they risk their account in the future. Just as the temporary bans for hate speech and bad language are having an effect on the game, so will this. Here’s to a friendlier, more honest player base.

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