Reddit is aflame over the ban of a popular bug-exposing YouTuber from ARK Survival Evolved

    
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Since this article’s publication, Wildcard has walked back the ban. We’ve updated with the whole story at the very end.

Not quite a year ago, I wrote a piece about a greyhat hacker who, fed up with Nintendo’s lax action on cheaters in Splatoon 2, took matters into his own hands and hacked the game’s leaderboards with a demand that Nintendo ban the exploiters actively ruining the game. Instead, Nintendo banned him and made him a martyr for the playerbase since so many outlets covered the tale.

A similar story is unfolding right now in the world of ARK Survival Evolved. YouTuber and ARK content creator H.O.D Gaming posted a video exposing multiple years-old ARK bugs on an unofficial, offline server – many of which you’re no doubt familiar with if you follow our own Survivalist column. You can guess what’s coming next: Instead of thanking the YouTuber and fixing the exploits, Studio Wildcard allegedly globally banned him. And yes, the ARK Reddit has his back – here’s just one thread demanding #JusticeForHOD. The thread on /r/gaming itself has over 20,000 ups as I type this.

Wildcard has yet to address the mess, but we’ll update as soon as it does. It’s a bit of a bummer since the studio just yesterday announced classic PvP servers (yes, a game that left early access for launch just a year and a half ago is doing classic servers).

Want more stories on video game company retaliation in recent years? Sadly, there are several:

Source: Gaming Reddit, ARK Reddit. Thanks, Guy and mattgamer!
Update
As of this afternoon, Wildcard has changed its mind on the ban. “When things land in the gray area, our first instinct is to do whatever is in our power to prevent abuse,” the studio wrote. “Upon further review of the situation involving H.O.D Gaming, we felt that it was not deserving of a permanent ban. Videos showing exploit techniques are admittedly a gray area when it comes to enforcement, which is just one of the reasons why the appeal process exists for bans.” The company also urges players to use “established methods for escalating exploits to the development team,” though given how old some of these bugs are, we assume he means going forward.
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Grave Knight

Why ban him when you can hire him to be part of your QA Department instead?

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Connor

They’ll need to form a QA department first.

Veldara
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Veldara

On the bright side Wildcard continues to be a great study on how not to run a studio.

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Tanek

Wildcard’s response:
https://survivetheark.com/index.php?/articles.html/official-statement-regarding-hod-gaming-and-game-exploits-r1137/

Upon further review of the situation involving H.O.D Gaming, we felt that it was not deserving of a permanent ban. Videos showing exploit techniques are admittedly a gray area when it comes to enforcement, which is just one of the reasons why the appeal process exists for bans.

I don’t know, but saying “There are established methods for escalating exploits to the development team that exist to prevent the spread of information to the general public.” does not seem to have as much of an impact when the exploit in question has been reported for a t least a couple years now. :P

Mewmew
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Mewmew

“The thread on /r/gaming itself has over 20,000 ups as I type this.”

That was just 3 hours ago and it is over 32k now :D

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Something went very wrong at Wildcard/Grapeshot. I’d love to have an inside story, but somewhere along the way it was decided to take an adversarial tone with the players. Difficult-but-necessary balance decisions were made not with firm apology but with snark. They used balance meta to cull things that they didn’t like. They stepped in and played blatant favoritism on PVP servers.

The Atlas fiasco is a whole ‘nother log on the bonfire. Right now Wildcard ‘fans’ are ready to storm the castle.

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Robert Mann

Yes, it is common knowledge ARK is a buggy mess. Yes, it is full of unfixed exploits. Yes, if you post them on something like Youtube you are going to get banned and not thanked…

DERP. That’s pretty much every studio, because now you are spreading how-to-exploit.

Of course, these should long ago have been fixed, but studio wildcard has DLC to make and money to get, so they don’t. That doesn’t mean the course one should take, assuming they don’t want another excuse to stop playing the game, is to do something that gets people banned from pretty much any online game around.

The entire ‘greyhat’ thing is, tbh, just like any other celebration of people taking one wrong and adding another on top. Not only all that, but then there’s a delay as the studio instead works on ensuring there’s no other videos to take down, no other hacks to root out, etc. It’s counterproductive fame-seeking, and not something to celebrate. But don’t mind me, because people keep buying crap-ware that they know is a buggy mess over and over again and make excuses for the developers on that point, so obviously getting these things fixed isn’t important anyway.

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

I disagree about greyhatting. Selling exploits is one thing, but providing info on how people are breaking the game should be considered a public service.

The game isn’t in beta anymore. Shouldn’t the company have some fiduciary duty to secure their game, which is actually their own managed network, from exploits that impact the service?

I know they’ve probably lawyered their way out of it with some click-through contract of adhesion, but at some point I feel the problem may begin to exceed the bounds of what is rationally defensible.

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starbuck1771

Sending that info to the studio is one thing but posting a video of it on YouTube for the world to see so they can use the exploit is pure stupidity. In my book he is just as bad as a hacker or 3rd party cheat modders.

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Tanek

Which I agree with in theory. This case gets a bit complicated, though, with the exploits in question being things that people have been using/reporting/being banned for for years now.

On the one hand, I don’t like that someone just goes and posts exploits publicly. On the other, maybe after all this time it will finally get developer attention. Especially if they plan to get those new PvP servers out with some good (or at least not specifically negative) press.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

After 2+ years of the same unfixed exploit, wouldn’t that be considered a game feature?

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Bruno Brito

Sending that info to the studio is one thing but posting a video of it on YouTube for the world to see so they can use the exploit is pure stupidity. In my book he is just as bad as a hacker or 3rd party cheat modders.

Considering that you pretty much need to shoot against the screen for them to get the hint, it is a public service. Again, these are years old bugs. What makes you think these weren’t reported THOUSANDS of times?

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Arktouros

Yea this is all very common knowledge regarding ARK and what makes ARK’s official PvP servers a complete and total joke. This is also how they always respond to it as well, typically going after people who take steps to counter exploiter/meshers.

Pretty sure the reality is they just don’t have a solution. At all. It’s just a game engine thing and nothing they actually have the power to fix. They refuse to admit that point and simply don’t address it other than to go after anyone who points it out in a meaningful way.

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starbuck1771

The problem is he wasn’t countering the exploiters but instead making more exploiters. You should know by now if you post an exploit for a game on YouTube people are damn well going to use it.

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Bruno Brito

If that’s what it takes for them to fix the game, i’m accepting it.

Humans are creatures that learn when the shit hits the fan. Not before.

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Armsbend

I sincerely don’t understand how people continue to support Wildcard in any way. Looking at you MJ.

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Arktouros

If your product is good enough people will rationalize just about anything.

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silverlock

Doesn’t MJ play on a private server? Nothing wrong with pointing out the fun parts of a game as long as you admit the public version of the game is a mess.

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Armsbend

Promotion work is promotion work.

I know that isn’t MJs game – she plays what she plays – but still. Wildcard should just be put out to pasture completely.

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

Armsbend, if I supported WildCard I would be playing Atlas. I most decidedly am not. Nor will I ever. Amusingly, the companion article to last week’s Survivalist scheduled for this week (that is likely being bumped to next) is exactly why I won’t ever touch the game or anything else from WildCard again.

My unhappiness with/disgust of WildCard is no secret. My last Survivalist also stated “And one thing it could have been was a shred of hope that WildCard cared anything about its inaugural game or players.” Because it doesn’t. I actually railed on the studio and game quite a bit more, but that was pulled for the other piece because it made this last one way too long. As I have stated publicly, the ONLY reason I play any ARK at all is because of the amazing people who are on my private server (where I can mitigate a lot of the garbage WildCard does). I want to spend time with these people, and this is what they play. I am there to give them the world they want to play on. If I can ultimately get them to migrate somewhere else, I will =P Alas, there is not an abundance of baby dion’s out in the world.

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Cervator

Just one … more … dino army! Then we can move to Conan already ;-)

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

It’s a good question, and one MJ has explained many times over years of streaming the game. It’s the issue of regular discussion, and none of us who play ARK are happy with Wildcard or have any hope that they might fix anything.

We’re not really playing ARK for the sake of it. We trash the game. We’re playing it for each other, and I think most of us are simply waiting for something better.

We have a village, lots of connections we’ve made. Wildcard can burn with the rest of the hacks for all I care, but they scored a big piece of the new paradigm with their endless tech demo. It was worth it. Just like EverQuest was worth it, as horrible as it was.

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Cervator

I’m totally not still playing ARK just to steal all the good bits of game design to reuse elsewhere …

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Greaterdivinity

My low opinion of Wildcard continues to be validate when shit like this happens. I wish it wasn’t : (

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Tanek

This is why I still don’t understand people’s reaction when ATLAS came out. Even players who knew better were like “ooo…I BE A PIRATE!!” and seemed to forget that it is still Wildcard, no matter what name they hide under. :(

I don’t even know how they are going to pull off “classic” PvP successfully when many problems that affect PvP are still around after 4 years. Unless that is what they mean. They are bringing back all the old bugs and exploits, too? :P

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

You were saying the same thing the day the news hit.

I remember the reaction I felt, but I don’t have a word for it. Shocked beyond ennui? Astounded almost to the point of appreciation for the completeness of their bastardry. They’d managed, as if by fortune, to carve off enough of the ARK developers to make a do a wha…? It was diabolical.

We’re trying to plug the murderholes in the broken mesh in their unfinished ARK expansion while on the other monitor I’m watching an apocalypse of flying titans wiping everybody on officials, and they’re saying they’ve just made the newest bestest thing that’s gonna be it for everyone, only try not to notice that it’s just a rebrand of the better of the two ARK expansions we were going to give you.

Yeah. I’ll eat dirt before I buy Atlas.

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Bryan Correll

Yet another foolish decision triggers the Streisand effect.

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mttgamer

I just recently bought the season pass expansion content to play with some friends (on a private unofficial server too) and when I saw this news I immediately regretted it… What a crummy thing to do

MJ Guthrie
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MJ Guthrie

Having a chance to experience this with friends on a private server is still worthwhile. If only we could do that without giving WildCard any money.