Star Wars: The Old Republic has had a very successful launch. The MMO has accumulated players faster than any MMO before it, and it doesn't appear that BioWare's latest gem will be slowing down anytime soon. However, some of those players are now finding themselves locked out, facing temporary - and in some cases permanent - bans for exploiting The Old Republic.
The issue revolves around "gold farming" or in The Old Republic's case, "credit farming." While is it not a crime to have a lot of credits in the game, some were taking advantage of the game's design. Senior Online Community Manager for The Old Republic Stephen Reid initially explained that there were players who received permanent bans for the credit farming.
"These accounts were found to be exploiting the game in a variety of ways to maximize their credits in order to sell them to other players. Our Terms of Service team took action against these accounts and removed them permanently from the game."
Reid did not expand further on the permanent bans.
A smaller number of players have been warned or temporarily suspended (but not banned) for exploiting another issue, this one centering around level 40 crates on the planet Ilum. These players under level 40 have been traveling to Ilum, taking the loot and reselling it multiple times. While it is not against the rules for pre-level 40 players to loot crates on Ilum, it is viewed as an exploit if players systematically and repeatedly loot the crates after they respawn, selling the items and making off with the cash. The Old Republic states that this unbalances the in-game economy and potentially creates situations where items cost more than what they are worth.
"It's important to remember that our Terms of Service team is extremely careful and thorough in their investigation of any potential exploit or unusual activity in-game. Working closely with the development team and using extensive metrics based on player activity, they are able to determine what is normal player activity, what is unusual and what is exploiting. Our goal is always to ensure a fair game experience for all players while also protecting the rights of individuals, and if people are disrupting the play experience for others action will be taken."
Terms of Service exist for a reason, and whether players like it or not, by choosing to click the box that says you agree (even though 99.99% of users never read it), it's hard to fault BioWare for enforcing its own rules to protect the game and player experience. Most, if not all, online games contain language about suspensions or bans being handed out if players are found exploiting the game for any reason. Those who were permanmently deserved it for outright breaching the more strict rules of the games, though players suspended for the Ilum issue should be allowed back in the game after a momentary "time out" and we can understand why they may feel this is unjust. It is how the game is designed after all so they're just playing it in a way that makes sense without cheating.
The larger issue is on BioWare to fix, and it seems simple enough: either restrict these sorts of crates by player level or the items themselves found within, the latter probably being the better choice in this instance. If a player finds a great weapon that is 13 levels above their own, they should have the option to keep it until they can use it. Alternatively, special items like this could have a restriction for reselling. There are lots of ideas for handling this issue; now it's up to BioWare to make a system that is fair for everyone. It must be said however, that no rule or system will please everyone, and players of The Old Republic need to understand that despite what they may feel personally, BioWare will do what is necessary for its game on the macro level.
Find out more on this game by checking out The Old Republic launch trailer.
Ranters, what are your feelings about this exploit? What ideas do you have for "fixing" it?
Star Wars: The Old Republic is now available for the PC.
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