To all the adventurous, thorough gamers out there — beware: Adhere to the way game developers want their games to be played, or risk bans.
The “Guild Wars 2” developer ArenaNet issued permanent account bans Tuesday to players accused of exploiting game mechanics, ArenaNet said in its forums. The players were banned for replicating valuable trade-skill items too easily, actions ArenaNet said it didn’t intend, and the game mechanics were altered to prevent it. Some of the banned players protested the punishments, but ArenaNet was firm in its decision.
“The damage to the economy could have been substantial, if the exploit wasn’t closed down and if these people were allowed to use their ill-gotten gains,” ArenaNet Support Liaison Gaile Gray said in a response to a player’s protest. ArenaNet also said the actions were against the agreement all users accepted before playing the game.
The problem, though, was the game, not the players. No modern game is bug-free, so why do developers punish their players for accidentally discovering bugs that their quality assurance teams should have caught, for accidentally benefiting from said bugs? And players don’t get slaps on the wrist. No, they get permanent bans, and the “Guild Wars 2” punishments weren’t the first overreactions by game companies.
A top “World of Warcraft” guild was banned for several days in 2010 for stumbling upon a bug that ended up benefiting them: They were the first guild to kill a high-profile raid boss. Blizzard felt the world-first kill should have been completed as their designers intended, so they not only banned the guild, but also they stripped the players of their achievements and loot from the kill. A member of the guild protested in a blog post and listed the number of earlier bosses that had substantial early problems, and the only difference in the boss they were banned for is that the guild benefited from the bugs.
Bioware, the developer behind MMO role-playing game “Star Wars: The Old Republic,” issued bans last year to players who traveled to high-level zones early and opened boxes intended for higher-level players. Players were too eager to explore zones and ground spawns and were banned for their journeys. The developers at Bioware didn’t think to set level restrictions on the boxes or the zones, so the players who discovered them were punished.
Game companies want the best of both worlds: the ability to ban players for misusing their buggy content but also the laziness in content production, beta-testing and debugging, all of which their loyal players tolerate. If game companies cannot thoroughly test their game enough to catch game-breaking bugs, they shouldn’t channel their anger at the players by banning them, which is a gaffe for any company because they lose not only the players’ trust in the product, but also the players’ trust that they will be treated fairly.
Instead they should channel that anger toward perfecting their next game.