Enlarge /. For months, groups of bot-controlled accounts have been roaming high-level zones and attacking monsters with uncanny precision before turning to their next target at 90 ° robot angles.
Bots terrorize World of Warcraft Classic servers, steal valuable resources, monopolize rare monsters and replenish the virtual economy with truckloads of illegally earned gold. Today, WoW Classic developer Blizzard Entertainment announced that it has blocked or closed over 74,000 WoW Classic accounts in the past month, many of which have automated gameplay with bots.
Groups of bot-controlled accounts have been roaming high-level zones and attacking monsters with uncanny precision for months before turning to their next target at 90-degree robot angles. These in-game characters are controlled by scripts that are programmed to optimally kill monsters and receive rare, valuable items that fall from them. They have recently targeted the coveted Black Lotus, a necessary item for competitive, high-level gaming.
World of Warcraft Classic is a punishment game that recalls the early days of World of Warcraft. It offers little of the convenience that defines modern massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Everything is deliberately slow. To get a black lotus, players had to identify the specific locations where they spawn and camp between 45 and 75 minutes to wait and fend off all of their competitors. In recent months, when human-led characters have tried to blend into the mix, they have been threatening coordinated groups of bots or closing rows around the flower. In late May, Loknar, who plays a healing priest in WoW Classic, but is still trying to kill bots whenever he sees them, decided to hold an in-game anti-bot protest in the city of Orgrimmar.
"There were over 50 people doing a line walk and shouting," says Loknar. He tried to draw attention to the problem and asked passers-by not to buy the black lotus flowers that bots with inflated 300 gold brought to the auction house. (The normal price on most servers, he says, is about half that.) Loknar made a racket, but the mafia knew how to silence him. The bots reported him en masse to the publisher Blizzard for "abusive chats". Blizzard has muted Loknar's account and that of other protesters for 24 hours. In the meantime, the bots brought their black lotus flowers to the auction houses, where they retained their monopoly.
"Whether they're a mafia, if they're a crime mob, if they're a syndicate, if they're Illuminati; Whatever metaphor you want to use for them, the bottom line is that the players get fucked, ”says World of Warcraft Twitch streamer Asmongold. "They are completely arrogant … They advertise the services they will be doing and hack while they are doing the services."
Dozens of websites that are easy to find on Google sell code or services that automate the World of Warcraft Classic experience. Some individual players pay for handing over their accounts to a bot to improve their characters in slow, meditative play while they are at their day job or dozing. Others make a profit by automating groups of accounts that kill certain monsters and manage certain resources to earn massive amounts of gold in the game. Some use breakthrough techniques to gain an edge, such as flying in the air and the massacre of rare monsters that can't defend themselves. (Characters cannot fly in the game.) Then round up the goods.
Bots attack the integrity of WoW Classic, a game based on time and patience. (In an interview with WIRED, Asmongold compared it to a four-year college degree just before your college started publishing it for free.) You are also undermining the game's economy. Gold has less purchasing power if it is extracted without labor or time.
"There are no limits to money creation," said Michael Morrison, an economics professor at the Edinburgh University of Pennsylvania, who wrote his dissertation on the World of Warcraft Economy. “In the real world, money is created by a federal reserve. Historically, the limit was how much gold was in the ground. In World of Warcraft, the currency continues to grow with the game. The more people play, the more hours are played, the more money is in the system and the more inflation you see. “More organized botters sell the play money or high-level characters they receive to players in exchange for cash on third-party websites. On the Loknar server, 100 gold costs $ 4.79, 1,000 gold $ 47.73. (No bot maker or gold seller agreed to an interview for this item.)
The influx of bots and bot mafias has complicatedly influenced the WoW Classic economy. Some items are worth less as bots work around the clock to reach them. others are worth more because bot mafias have devoured goods. Tarek Beutler of NexusHub.co, a website that collects analyzes from World of Warcraft, has determined the numbers in the auction houses of various WoW Classic servers. The price of a Black Lotus rose 600 percent in six months, until Blizzard added more Black Lotus spawns to fix the problem. He estimates that inflation rates in the past six months have averaged 2.26 percent for US servers and almost 7 percent for EU servers.
“Black Lotus, for example, is a scarce resource and can only be available at a few spawn points in the world at the same time. It is fairly easy for botters to control these spawns and measure prices so that they go up, ”says Beutler. Other resources that appear in dungeons and may not be related to the shared experience of other landscapes are not subject to this limitation. Botters can race through these dungeons, collect rare resources and throw their wares onto the auction house, which artificially lowers their value.
“At a macroeconomic level, some of these activities are a driver of gold inflation, while others are moving gold in the economy. All of them are harmful to normal gamers who try to trade goods and services within the gaming industry, ”said a spokesman for the WoW Classic development team. "The presence of bots has a very negative impact on the gaming experience and we are fully focused on our players to eliminate them."
This connection to the real economy can lead to despair. In Blizzard's WoW Classic forums, one player complained about another allegedly running 15 bots that control Eastern Pestland for 12 to 14 hours a day. Anyone who kills the bots is exposed to "obscene language and various types of threats," the poster said. Two other sources described chat restrictions and threats they allegedly received from accounts that use bots.
Despite Blizzard's recent move, players have criticized how slow the studio was to get up in WoW Classic. Also not strategic. Blizzard has recently adjusted the Black Lotus drop rate so that it can be monopolized less rarely and ideally less easily. The value crashed between the servers, but unfortunately the players say that this only means more flowers for bots. "They would sell them at an inflated price and buy anyone who tries to undercut the item and resell it at a higher price," says Loknar.
In a blog post today, Blizzard explained why it was slow to act: after using automated systems to determine whether a suspicious account is actually a bot, official moderators have to manually collect evidence, a "time-consuming and complex" process. "While today's suspensions have been applied in one batch (often referred to as" banwave "), it is a top priority for us to identify and rock bottom accounts," the company wrote. "Our team works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and many of the bans and closings in recent months have ended in the middle of the night or at the weekend."
Although Blizzard recently removed tens of thousands of bots from the game, players are concerned that slightly more will show up to replace the old ones. The bots rise between the banwaves. It's Whac-A-Mole. "People who use bots go for months without being banned," Asmongold says. "Blizzard doesn't fix the problem because they're set up to solve problems so that they can't adapt to the way things have changed."
One player, Tpyo, says he quit the bots. You played around with the economy. They made it difficult for him to get materials for high-level raids. And they intimidated him when he spoke up and brought him a chat restriction. "The world is full (full of bots) and feels completely empty when you're in it," he says. "It kind of killed the sense of community that kept me in the game."