Tag Archives: Bots

Blizzard Goes After WoW Classic Bots and Warms up for AQ

This week saw some WoW Classic news related to bots and cheating as well as a stress test on the public test realm.

Classic is as classic does

The big announcement was that Blizzard had banned 74K accounts for EULA violations.

We’ve recently completed a round of actions against players who were found to be cheating in World of Warcraft.

We rarely communicate publicly about this, because we’ve found that describing our sources and methods can make it easier for malicious actors to work around them, but we feel that it’s worthwhile to expand on the subject today, as many players have recently asked us for more details.

Including today’s actions, over the last month in the Americas, Oceania, and Europe regions, we’ve closed or suspended over 74,000 WoW accounts that were found to be in violation of our End-User License Agreement 68. The majority of these were found to be using gameplay automation tools, typically to farm resources or kill enemies much more efficiently than legitimate players can.

While today’s suspensions were applied in a batch (often referred to as a “banwave”), it is a top priority for us to identify accounts that are botting and remove them. Our team works around the clock, every day of the week, and many of the suspensions and account closures over the last few months have gone out in the middle of the night, or on weekends.

Like you, we play World of Warcraft. We understand what it’s like to spot a player in-game who appears to be botting. We always want to eliminate the botting player, if it can be proved that they are indeed cheating. And that raises a big difficulty in addressing this issue – we have to prove to ourselves that the accused player is not a person who’s actually controlling a character with their hands on a keyboard.

We use powerful systems to determine if the suspected player is using an identifiable cheat, and our heuristics (which we do not outline publicly) are constantly improving and evolving. But when we examine a suspect and these measurements aren’t out of line, we have to manually gather evidence against the accused player, which can be very time consuming and complex. It’s worthwhile though, because we never want to take action against a legitimate player.

Yes, there have been cases where a legitimate player appeared (to another player) to be botting. In those cases, where a legitimate player is reported and then cleared of wrongdoing, it can be very frustrating to the reporting player to again see what they think is a bot. We’ve also seen examples where the reported player was caught exploiting the game, and was removed from the game, and then quickly returned to doing the same thing on a new account with the same character name. That’s an infuriating sight for the players who initially reported it. We greatly appreciate your reports, and we understand how you feel about this.

We’re ultimately working to unravel a challenging circumstance. Real money trading drives third parties to put an enormous amount of effort into circumventing our detection systems. As much as this is a very high priority for us, it is the only priority for profit-driven botting organizations. The bans we issue are simply a cost of doing business for them.

We’re working on further improvements to every part of the game that might address cheating issues more swiftly and completely, and we’ll continue to let you know as those next steps are taken.

Thank you very much for your feedback on these issues, and thank you for your reports!

Ars Technica even did a story about the “bot mafias” that were present in WoW Classic. and how they have messed with the economy, all no doubt in furtherance of illicit gold sales.

I know I have seen a bunch of gold seller spam email messages showing up on my characters lately.

I have multiple screen shots of similar messages

I have been using the “Report Player” button to respond to these, so hopefully I helped target a few bad actors.

In addition, Blizzard made a change to the number of instances a player can access during a single day.

As part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate exploitative and automated gameplay, with scheduled weekly maintenance in each region, we’re implementing the following change to our settings on all WoW Classic realms:

  • You may now enter a maximum of 30 unique instances (dungeon and raid) per day, per realm.

This restriction complements the current limit of 5 instances per hour. Now, when a player enters a dungeon or a raid, the game checks to see if they have entered 5 instances in the last hour or 30 instances in the last 24 hours, and if they have, they cannot enter the instance until enough time has elapsed. This check is across all of your characters on your realm.

These limits only apply to dungeon and raid instances, and do not apply to PvP battlegrounds.

I had run into the old “five instances per hour” limit while trying to get the Hydrocane to drop in Gnomeregan, but the overall cap will now close that out a bit more thoroughly I suppose.  (I didn’t need nearly that many instances to get the drop on multiple characters.)

And then, in a note about things to come, Blizzard also did a stress test on the PTR on Thursday to test Silithus and the Ahn’Qiraj (AQ) opening event.  They have already posted a summary of how that went.  We shall see if they do anything with the information they collected.

Finally, layering, which Blizzard had to turn on again for a few realms recently due to queues, has been worked on to make sure that it will function correctly when these events hit the live servers.

Who Gets Banned for Botting in New Eden?

Renters?  Is the answer Renters?

CCP Peligro posted a chart to Twitter yesterday showing the top 25 alliances by amount of users banned for botting.  And the list was heavy with organizations that rent null sec space.

Click to Make Larger/Readable

There are a lot of familiar names on that list, not to mention some old one.  That data is for all time, since alliances were introduced into EVE Online.

One omission from the top 25 that no doubt will make some people upset is Goonswarm Federation, which so many angry people accuse of botting, RMT, and whatever else because that is what they want to believe as opposed to having any actual evidence.  GSF not making the list unsurprisingly made The Mittani a bit self-righteous.

CCP Peligro cautions on taking this data for more than it might mean.

BEING ON THIS LIST DOESN’T MEAN YOUR ALLIANCE IS FILLED WITH BOTS NOW – data from EVEstart. The only point I’ll make here is that 0.0 and in particular rental alliances have been disproportionately represented in bot bans for as long as I can remember.

Of course, we’ve been told this before, that rental alliances, by their very nature, attract botters.  They are not beholding to the landlord, or watched over, so long as the rent is on time.  The Team Security presentation from the 2015 EVE Fanfest had a similar chart when it came to bots.

EVE Fanfest 2015 Team Security Presentation – Page 30

No names were named back in 2015, and the data was for just a ten month period of time, but the caption to the left indicates that the the top three were well known renter alliances, and you don’t have to look very hard at the influence map to pick them out.

EVE Influence Map – March 30, 2015

I’m going to guess Northern Associates, Shadow of xXDEATHXx, and the Greater Western Co-Prosperity Sphere.  This was back when null sec was a trilateral mix of rental empires.  That map, at the end of the data set for the presentation, is from more than a year after I describe it in terms of the world of 1984, but many of the same players are on the map.

Which means that if you want to find bots today it seems like your best chance would be to go where there is still rental space in play.

Of course, if you look at the heat maps from that 2015 presentation that show where botters were caught, you might think high sec space would be a more fruitful location.

EVE Fanfest 2015 Team Security Presentation – Page 39

More high sec exceptionalism.  The Forge, Lonetrek, Domain, and Tash-Murkon look to the be biggest locations.  But I guess if you are botting in high sec then you are in an NPC corporation and won’t appear on the alliance chart.  So does that mean the answer isn’t “renters” but “randos” instead?

Meanwhile Reddit is alive with various tales and accusations as to who supports botting and who is responsible for policing it.  The potential for further fallout seems high.

Others on this topic:

Tidbits from EVE, WAR, and PlanetSide 2

One of thosen informational time stamp post.

New EVE Online Milestone

CCP apparently told Massively (oh, there is an official press release now too) that they passed the 500K subscription mark, which puts them into the range of EverQuest at its peak, just before the launch of World of Warcraft.  Certainly the total players online has been up when I have been logged in, hitting close to 60K during the weekends. (The record is currently 63,170 online at once.)  The longer term numbers show an uptick as well.

Not bad for a game that started off badly.  The game has come a long way in a decade.

Early Raven in Combat

Early Raven in Combat

The iconic Rifter hasn't changed much

The iconic Rifter hasn’t changed much

(Early game pictures from this CCP forum post.)

Also not bad for a studio predicted to go bankrupt… well, by one person at least.

Yeah, I’m not letting that one go yet.  Financial reports do not lie, but people projecting their internal wishes about games they dislike…

Warhammer Online Trail of Tears – MOBA Edition

Meanwhile, the Warhammer Online team cannot seem to catch a break.  While League of Legends roams the internet landscape as possibly the biggest online game ever, and certainly one of the few with what seems like a license to print money, EA/Mythic’s attempt to take Warhammer Online assets to create their own MOBA game, Wrath of Heroes, seems to have fallen flat.

EA has announced that the game, still in beta, is closing up shop because it did not meet its financial goals.  I love how we use the word “beta” in the 21st century.  Oh, and if you spent any money on it… well… no refunds.  How about a couple of drink vouchers and a free month of Warhammer Online?

My own feelings remain mixed on the original game.  There was a lot in it that I liked… but there was also a lot there that turned me away.

Most developers agree, the quest log should be mapped to "L"

And not all of it was this trivial

In the end, I simply stopped logging in about two months after launch, which is the real sign of whether or not a game has grabbed me.  I can kid myself, but I won’t log into a game I am not enjoying.

PlanetSide 2 Bot Thoughts

I haven’t logged into PlanetSide 2 lately, but I still keep an eye on the news.  And one thing that keeps popping up is the proliferation of aimbots, unauthorized add-ons that make sure you are shooting to kill every time you pull the trigger.  This gives the user/cheater a huge advantage in the game.

Smed has been quite vocal about how they are working to fight aimbots, including banning the accounts of anybody caught using one.

But in this war, SOE is fighting without all the tools it once had.  With a free to play game that is free to download, does an account ban keep a player out of the game any longer than it takes him to create a new account and maybe grab an updated version of his aimbot?

How do you fight the aimbot blight under those circumstances?

You cannot just ban IP addresses, as a lot of people do not have a fixed IP address.

You might be able to tag the client so that it won’t log in again if an account using it has been banned.  That would at least make cheaters have to download a fresh copy.  A minor inconvenience for anybody with a faster internet pipe than mine… and most people seem to have faster pipes than min.

In response to all of that, it sounds like SOE might be lawyering up to go after the sites that are creating… and selling… the bots.  Certainly there are EULA and DMCA aspects to exploit as well as making money on an SOE game.

But does that have any real chance of success?  Will that do anything more than slow down the aim-bot menace?

In the end, will SOE just have to include auto-aim, a built-in aim assist… or aimbot… which some console shooters use to overcome the problems of aiming with the analog stick, and just nerf accuracy to simply remove the viability of aimbots in PlanetSide 2?

I know that mouse aiming is the long established norm on the PC platform and can be a skill differentiator.  Should we give that up in order to make teamwork and tactics even more important?