The title for today’s Daily Grind isn’t exactly what you think it is, so consider this a trick to see who read the whole question! Obviously, I think the perpetrators of a dupe scandal in an MMO should be punished – ban them and let the code gods sort them out, right? Duping is the act of exploiting a game to create multiple copies of something; if the right – or rather, wrong – item is duped enough, it can destroy an MMO economy overnight. Heck, I bet several of you have seen it happen. I sure have, repeatedly. I have zero tolerance for it.
Today’s question is really about what should happen after the perpetrators themselves are banned. I recently read of a duping issue in the classic SWGEmu whereby the player devs discovered over 60K duped objects (things like resource deeds and decay kits). The dupers then circulated the items into the real economy, tricking thousands of “unsuspecting players” into buying dupes, including a staff member. It’s not as if a normal player could tell the difference, after all.
What got me thinking about it is that the developers decided to delete all the duplicate objects from the game, affecting 1766 accounts, most of those victims. “Unfortunately, honest and unsuspecting players have bought many of these items over time and we will not reimburse them for their losses.,” the devs write. “We are very sorry and know this will end up hurting innocent members of our community who worked hard to acquire the items. This, however, isn’t much different than real life. If you have stolen goods, they are confiscated and you will have to contact the seller for a solution.”
I haven’t played this emu seriously in years, but that still really upset me. Contact the seller? You mean the duping ring you just banned? Come on. In real life, you can’t just keep the stolen property you inadvertently buy because it needs to go back to the original owner, true. But this is a video game and there was no original owner of a dupe. It’d be pretty easy to compensate the victims here; it was always just pixels, and it’s just an emulator, and the economy was already irreparable.
But then I’ve also seen MMOs go too far in the other direction, with rollbacks and wipes that hurt far more people than were originally involved. And I sure wouldn’t want to be the dev trying to compensate players for 60K duped items. Yikes.
How should MMORPGs handle duping scandals? Once the bad guys are banned, how would you go about repairing the damage, salvaging the economy, and compensating the victims?