So, MMO players. Are you tired of hearing about lockboxes and gambleboxes? It feels like we’ve been complaining about them for like six or seven years now, probably because we have. It wasn’t cute back when City of Heroes was trying it, nope. Heck, it wasn’t cute back when Star Wars Galaxies was trying it with card packs. Now it’s every damn game, and it’s gone way beyond MMOs. I’m not sick of hearing about it myself. I’m just sick of dealing with it like a pestilence making me hate the games and developers who exploit them.
Maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: As more AAA online gaming studios figure out that lockbox gambling garbage is a fast ticket to easy money, more mainstream gamers are catching wind of the scam and raising objections, so it’s not just MMO players all by our lonesomes anymore. Indeed, this week multiple game critics, YouTubers, and review services have come out against lockboxes, from Boogie to TotalBiscuit, the latter of whom has called for ESRB intervention. Reviews aggregator OpenCritic has further said it’s “going to take a stand against loot boxes” by taking crappy business practices into account. The ESRB doesn’t care, by the way, and as blogger Isarii has pointed, the self-regulatory body has conveniently twisted the meaning of gambling to avoid dealing with the problem, thereby failing to protect us from it, but that’s just making people angrier.
So hey, you know what, studios? Keep screwing up with lootboxes. Keep attracting mainstream anger, keep disrespecting us, until it all boils over, one way or another, and you can’t exploit us anymore. And in the meantime, people? Stop. Buying. Lockboxes.
Of all the headlines to come out of EVE Online
over the years, the biggest and most far-reaching have been the stories of massive thefts and underhanded scams. The MMO community has grown up hearing these tales, from the embezzlement of EVE‘s first public bank
in 2009 and the estimated $45,000 US Titans4U scam
in 2011 to the trillion ISK Phaser Inc scandal
and beyond. EVE
has been embedded with this narrative of mistrust and betrayal for most of its life, the most famous example still being the Guiding Hand Social Club heist
from all the way back in 2005.
Yet when a player recently stole three extremely rare ships using social engineering, the victims expressed only disappointment that they had lost a friendship they valued. The question for players and the wider MMO community today is simple: How much trust is too much to give someone in an MMO? To what degree should the game mechanics automatically protect your assets and privacy, and how much of that protection should you be able or expected to give up in order to make progress or join a group?
World of Warcraft players beware: There’s a new scam going on that requires a little bit of gullibility and action on the part of the account holder.
Apparently some scammers are impersonating players’ friends and guild members who then ask on flimsy pretenses for the user to post a “/run” command into the game’s chat box. Doing so on the askance of a stranger is akin to opening up an unknown email attachment, as it triggers a script designed or used by the scammer to siphon gold away from the player.
Another day, another mess in ArcheAge
. Here’s the scenario: Player A, known for his Doctors Without Borders charity work, and Player B trade on a regular basis. Player C rolls a character with a name almost identical to Player B and tricks Player A into handing over his valuables — i.e., he literally scams the pants off him, during a publicly broadcast stream no less. Let’s say you’re Trion
. What do you do?
In this case, Trion reversed the scam in favor of the victim, Player A, which has, you may or may not be shocked to learn, caused outrage in the ArcheAge community, if you can call it a community.
“[O]ur Customer Service policies do not allow impersonation of another player,” explained Senior Community Manager Celestrata on the official forums. “Impersonating someone else, even if it’s by name, to separate someone from their hard earned goods is not allowed and has not been allowed in ArcheAge.”
Gaiscioch clan’s Benjamin “Foghladha” Foley and friend of Massively OP has apparently become the victim of a strange sort of gaming-related identity theft.
“Over the past few months, a person from China has posed as me,” he’s explained in the guild’s magazine today. “This unscrupulous person wrote to developers and media affiliates seeking access to beta releases of some games, exclusive tchotchkes, and press copies of other games. He then turned around and sold these on various websites.”
Needless to say, if you’ve communicated with “Foley” lately in respect to his large and well-known multi-MMO organization, you should probably double-check that you were communicating with the real version and not his overseas profiteering clone.
One quirk of some early MMORPGs was that character names weren’t always unique. It was possible to roll multiple characters with precisely the same name and appearance, and whatever unique identification system the game did have was completely hidden from the players.
Hijinks ensued, as you might imagine, when unsavory types rolled characters to trick their fellow players. I was fooled once myself way back in the early days of Ultima Online, when an outcast former guildie rolled up a perfect clone of our recruiting officer and managed to bluff his way into our castle and safehouses until we figured out the scam.
Modern MMOs usually prohibit reuse of character names, or at the least they’ll append some other unique signifier to help players avoid mistaken identity. But there are plenty of scams in MMOs still, particularly in lowbie areas, where naive newbies and trusting kids (like I was back then!) swarm. Maybe the most widespread is the lottery scam, so virulent that some games, like World of Warcraft, outlaw player-run lotteries entirely.
Have you ever been scammed in an MMO? What’s the worst scam you’ve ever seen, and in which game did it take place?