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EVE Evolved: How much toxic, antisocial behaviour should MMOs tolerate?

The EVE Online community is aflame this week after alliance leader gigX was permanently banned for making threats of real-life violence against another player following possibly the biggest betrayal in EVE history. Some players don’t want to accept that gigX crossed a serious line and deserves his ban, and others have been asking why The Mittani’s similar actions in 2012 resulted in only a temporary ban. CCP’s official stance is that its policies have become stricter since 2012, but it’s still not entirely clear exactly where the line is drawn.

Another side to the debate is that the internet itself has evolved over EVE‘s 14-year lifespan, and a lot of toxic behaviour that was accepted or commonly overlooked on the early internet is now considered totally unacceptable. Many of us have grown from a bunch of anonymous actors playing roles in fantasy game worlds to real people sharing our lives and an online hobby with each other, and antisocial behaviour is an issue that all online games now need to take seriously. The lawless wild west of EVE‘s early years is gone, and I don’t think it’s ever coming back.

So what’s the deal? Does EVE Online tolerate less toxic behaviour today, has the internet started to outgrow its lawless roots, and what does it mean for the future of sandboxes?

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EVE Online political betrayal results in record-breaking theft

The EVE Online twitterverse exploded late last night with the news of a political twist so enormous that it’s become the largest recorded theft of in-game assets in the game’s history. In the middle of the night and without warning, major EVE military alliance Circle of Two (or CO2 for short) was betrayed by its diplomatic officer, a player with the ominous name of The Judge. In addition to cleaning out the alliance war funds and assets to the tune of over a trillion ISK, The Judge also transferred ownership of CO2’s 300 billion ISK keepstar citadel in its capital star system of 68FT-6 to a holding corporation, effectively stealing the alliance’s home space station.

News of The Judge’s betrayal trickled out of EVE all through the night, and it wasn’t long before the full extent of the incident was known. The 68FT-6 keepstar was sold to enemy alliance Goonswarm Federation, while CO2’s smaller citadels throughout Impass are now in the hands of TEST Alliance. The theft combined with the value of the citadels is estimated at over 1.5 trillion ISK, easily beating the 2011 trillion ISK Phaser Inc scam to become the highest-value theft in EVE‘s history. The actual damage done is even more extensive, injecting a huge dose of chaos into CO2 alliance and throwing fuel on the fire of the southern war.

Read on for a detailed breakdown of last night’s record-breaking theft, the reasons behind the betrayal, and the political situation that led us here.

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Notorious EVE Online player banned for threatening to cut off someone’s hands in real life

Yes, you’ve read that headline correctly. It’s been an insane day for EVE Online, as players awoke to the news that powerful military alliance Circle of Two had been betrayed by one of its top people. A player named The Judge stole over a trillion ISK worth of assets from the alliance and gave away all of its space stations to its enemies in one of the biggest political betrayals the game has ever seen. We’ll have a full report on the record-breaking theft and the current political situation in EVE later tonight, but this story has already taken an unusual turn.

Circle of Two’s leader, a notorious player named gigX, was so furious to learn of The Judge’s betrayal that he went into full meltdown mode in the alliance chat channel. Not content to keep his rivalry in-game, gigX asked his alliance to give him The Judge’s real name and home address. He followed up the request by writing “The Judge feel free to use your hands by typing here” before adding “while you can” to make a pretty serious threat.

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The Elder Scrolls Online recaps the big events of E3 while players get hit with surprise bans

If you’re fond of The Elder Scrolls Online and have managed to tear yourself away from Morrowind for a few minutes, you probably already caught up on the game’s big announcements at this year’s E3. But there was more stuff going on this year than just that, and the game’s team has helpfully recapped the big events for players unable to attend, including the community meetup and the game’s presence at the Bethesda booth.

Of course, it’s easy to step away from the game if you’re unexpectedly banned, isn’t it? Players who preordered the game through Amazon seem to be having some issues, getting banned despite being players in good standing. Players who ordered physical copies of the game are still waiting on delivery of same, which seems to be the cause behind the unintentional bans. The community service team has been working with affected players as best they are able, but it’s still a bit of a kick for players who have done nothing meriting the banning. So… here’s hoping that if you are looking forward to the game’s next updates, you didn’t order through Amazon.

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Heroes and Generals orders a tactical strike on cheaters

The World War II MMO Heroes and Generals is fighting more than just the Nazis this week. The team announced that it was performing another ban wave to rid the community of cheaters using third-party software to gain advantages.

“Our policy is zero tolerance, zero leniency, and zero exceptions,” the team said. “Anyone who is found to have, at any point in time, used any kind of third-party software designed to cheat while playing Heroes and Generals will lose their accounts once the cheat has been confirmed. Do not ‘try out’ a cheat, not even once: You will be permanently banned on all accounts.”

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Legendary pokemon are teased for Pokemon Go as a new anti-cheat measure auto-bans bots

Remember how last summer was all about Pokémon Go? That’s probably not going to happen again this year, but the team behind the game at Niantic is certainly hoping for something similar with the promise that the summer will be legendary. That certainly alludes to a bunch of legendary Pokémon wandering the world, so if you’ve long been hoping for a Zapdos you could name “Captain Zappywing,” you might be closer than you thought.

Of course, all of that is only if you’re playing the game legitimately. A new anti-cheat measure is being deployed against botting accounts, and rather than bans, it seems to be flagging accounts in a far more insidious manner. The flagged accounts can still play the game… but all they see are common Pokémon, rather than any of the rarer or more desirable ones. The community on Reddit has worked overtime in analyzing the bans and found very few false positives, making it a welcome boon to those playing the game legitimately.

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Black Desert GM punishes a player with a writing assignment

The hard part about being a GM has to be when you’re dealing with a certain brand of player. You know the sort; they’re the ones making other people’s time in the game worse just for giggles. How do you actually punish players who just want to sow chaos and don’t care about the consequences? An enterprising GM for Black Desert tried out a novel technique by banning a reported toxic player… unless said player wrote a 501-word essay.

Of course, there’s more to the story, as it turns out the player in question was reported for being a jerk to roleplayers, and the ban announcement by the GM in question was clearly leaning pretty hard on the “roleplaying” button. The player in question did write as requested and avoided the ban, although it’s not exactly a timeless masterpiece of literature (you can see it in the Reddit thread if you want). Whether or not this was actually effective is up for debate, but we can’t help but think that it was therapeutic for the GM, at the very least. (And as a bonus, there’s always the slim chance that one of us will have to deal with this sort of ban, which will mean we get out of jail for free!)

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Club Penguin players make a game out of getting speed banned

If your MMO’s overlords suddenly announced that they were going to shut down your game in a month’s time, how would you spend those remaining days? For some of the players of Club Penguin, the answer to that is “try to get banned as quickly and memorably as possible.”

Apparently there’s this whole crazy fad going on right now in Club Penguin where new and existing players are making a game out of getting banned faster than anyone else. The goal is to make a brand-new account and time yourself while violating the game’s rules and triggering an automatic ban. The current record to beat? One player used a few special tools to go from nothing to full-on ban in just 29 seconds.

The speedbanning community even has its own subreddit, bannedfromclubpenguin, in which players share their stories and techniques. Just so that you know, Club Penguin gives everyone a single free bad word before lowering the banhammer. You learn something new every day!

Source: Polygon

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Blizzard cracks down on Overwatch aimbot cheaters

OK, cheaters, listen up. You’re jerks, you’re ruining the game for everyone, you’re wasting developer time, which means you’re wasting everyone’s money, you’re not as slick as you think you are, and eventually, you’re gonna get caught, which means you’re wasting your own money.

I’d like to think these are the lessons learned by the latest round of Overwatch cheaters to whom Blizzard has issued ban slips, but alas.

A forum thread baiting hackers with “OH YES FEED ME THOSE SALTY TEARS” (a sentiment I suspect our readers will share) tells the whole story: Blizzard has clearly been cracking down on specific hacks that advertised themselves as undetactable, including the Overjoint and Highnoon aimbots. As Kotaku pointed out, some of the banned hackers as threatening to sue, which is pretty cute.

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EVE Online GMs removed at least 25 trillion ISK worth $400,000 from the game

If you’ve been reading the gaming news this week, you may have heard about the enormous amount of wealth that was recently removed from EVE Online‘s economy when the players behind EVE gambling website IWantISK were banned for real money trading. The figure was initially rumoured to be around 40 trillion ISK, but the only sources for this information at the time were one of the banned players himself and a third party using guesswork. With the release of CCP’s latest monthly economic report, we now have a verified primary source to work from.

Digging into the CSV records attached to CCP Quant’s October economic report, we were able to see that on the day of the ban (October 12th), total ISK supply dropped by 24.85 trillion ISK overnight. Accounting for the average upward movement of ISK over the previous month gives us a figure of around 25.77 trillion ISK that was likely part of the ban wave. This amount of ISK could currently buy you around 20,295 PLEX game time codes on the in-game market, which have a real world value of between $303,000 and $405,000 US depending on the price paid per unit.

Keep in mind that these figures account for only the liquid ISK in the banned players’ accounts. The value of any assets frozen on those accounts could bring the total even higher, but the frozen assets can’t be verified at this point. The bans came after intensive investigation of the accused players for real money trading offences, and happened on the same day that CCP announced that all third-party EVE gambling websites would have to shut down.

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Kakao permabans Black Desert shovel exploiters

This past weekend, Black Desert devs disabled some unusual items in the game: shovels and empty bottles. It turned out that exploiters had been using the items to take advantage of an infinite gathering bug that allowed them to rack up an alleged 20 billion in coin apiece over the course of the last few months, potentially wrecking the economy.

Today, Kakao has announced that those who abused the bug have been banned:

“We previously informed you of our investigation and necessary actions to stop the potential abuse of an exploit in BDO. Unfortunately some Players would sacrifice the enjoyment of others for advancement at any cost. The use of exploits to gain an unfair advantage over other Players is an egregious violation of our Terms of Use. As such these Users have been permanently removed from the game. We wish to make our stance clear regarding this type of behavior; it will not be tolerated. During our investigation some restrictions were placed on the functionality of specific in-game items over the past few days. Actions of this nature, while inconvenient are rare and done for good reason, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

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Pokémon Go lifts the ban on some third-party map app users

Pokémon Go has a word of warning for those players using third-party map applications: Stop or you could be banned. Niantic said that even if players didn’t realize what they were doing was against the terms of service, these apps “can have an effect similar to DDoS attacks” on the game’s servers.

The good news is that for banned players who used these apps without realizing their impact, Niantic is lifting the punishment… for now. However, the studio said that it will continue to be vigilant in putting an end to the use of these add-on maps: “Our main priority is to provide a fair, fun, and legitimate experience for all players, so aggressive banning will continue to occur for players who engage in these kinds of activities.”

Source: Pokemon Go. Thanks Nordavind!

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Final Fantasy XIV bans more than 6,000 accounts for RMT

Making money in Final Fantasy XIV isn’t necessarily easy. You have to play the free market quite a bit to acquire large amounts of gil, and you can sometimes make mistakes or bad decisions. Or you can make a really bad decision and just buy gil, in which case you can get caught in another wave of bans. Case in point, the game has banned more than 6,000 accounts for RMT advertisement or participation. So if you bought gil, you saved yourself several days farming it, and then you saved yourself from ever playing the game again for any reason.

As always, players who discover or confirm cheats or exploits are asked to report the problem promptly and avoid being associated in any way with RMT or other forms of cheating. This is the latest in a series of bannings targeting players who violate the game’s terms of service, so your best bet is probably to just avoid buying gil altogether. It just doesn’t work out in your favor.

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