The Daily Grind: What’s the biggest scandal the MMORPG genre has ever seen?

Over the weekend in the Guild Wars 2 spyware article comments, a commenter remarked that Blizzard’s Warden spyware was “the biggest scandal in MMOs” over the last 10 years. I was pretty surprised to see that claim; I was aware of Warden, but it probably wouldn’t even make my top 10 list of scandals across the industry. The first one that pops to mind is Blizzard’s RealID, probably followed by Monoclegate, the Funcom insider trading case, the EVE jumpgate scandal, the Sigil Games parking lot firing fiasco, and the NCsoft/Bluehole lawsuit.

I’m positive I’m forgetting some juicy ones. What’s the biggest scandal – scandal, mind you, not just drama – the MMORPG genre has ever seen? Lay ’em on me!

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The Secret World’s subscriber badge reward unwittingly provokes dismay

The Secret World’s recent membership status tweaks have more than a few players up in arms. A 450+ post thread on the official forums chronicles the argument: Funcom has added in-game badges as a reward for subscribers. Seems like a nice perk, right?

The trouble is, some players argue, that displaying the badge isn’t optional, which means that players are being forced to display their contribution and status to everyone in the game and cannot keep their finances private. “Having a permanent name plate is counter productive, discriminatory and crass,” writes one player. “It segregates players into haves and have-nots [and] breaks immersion by dragging a little bit of the real world into my escape from the real world.” Players also suggest that they aren’t thrilled being turned into walking advertisements for the subscription. Affected subbers have requested that the badge be toggleable, though Funcom hasn’t yet responded.

It’s not quite a RealID fiasco in the making, but it’s evidently a concern. What do you think about MMO studios implementing “rewards” like this?

Source: Official forums. Thanks, ThreeSpeed.