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BioWare temporarily bans The Old Republic players for exploiting end-game content

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Only a few weeks after its release, BioWare has already begun suspending and banning players that go against their terms of service in hopes of keeping a balanced game economy. A number of accounts were found to be credit farming, by exploiting the game "in a variety of ways to maximize their credits in order to sell them to other players."

These players were removed from the game entirely, as their actions supposedly went against BioWare's Terms of Service.

A majority of the banned accounts were gold farmers, but there were other players punished for lesser crimes with lesser sentences. Most of these problems surround the end-game planet of Ilum, which is meant to be a zone for max-level players (with a "no low-level jerks allowed" sign posted in the spaceport). It's being reported that some players were temporarily banned for exploiting the planet by using low-level characters to capture PVP points on Ilum so that they could capture it back, reaping the rewards without actually doing any of the work.

Other players were suspended for traveling to the planet early and looting chests in order to take high-level gear that could be sold for a higher price. This is a little bit more of a grey area than the first issues, as there really isn't anything wrong with traveling to a planet before the game recommends and looting chests. If you're able to do it, you sort of should be able to do it as long as no actual exploits were taking place. BioWare assured the community that the only players that were suspended were the ones that actually abused this by "systematically and repeatedly looting containers in very high numbers resulting in the game economy becoming unbalanced," but this is certainly a little more fuzzy than gold farming or abusing the capture-point system.

BioWare claims that the number of people actually affected by the temporary bans are small (much smaller than those banned for actual credit farming), but that hasn't stopped the community from throwing a fit. We're not completely sure where we stand on the issue, as we definitely see both sides of this one. We don't like exploiters at all, but we're also not completely sure that going to a high-level area early and looting chests is really an exploit.

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8 comments

  • Slothboy - January 4, 2012 9:10 a.m.

    If you can just waltz into a high-level planet and just start taking stuff, then that sounds like a problem with the game design. Level-lock the chests or something. Don't ban players for finding a way to farm loot. If they are glitching or hacking or something else then yeah, ban them, but this seems like putting the cookie jar in the middle of the floor and then spanking the toddler for taking a cookie.
  • Craza - January 4, 2012 7:33 p.m.

    Yah, that's exactly what I was thinking. They could easily fix that issue to keep future players from trying it, but the ones who have already done it weren't technically doing anything wrong.
  • MrPhantom31 - January 3, 2012 2:16 p.m.

    Where did you go wrong, Bioware? You guys started out making awesome CRPG's. Then you more or less reinvented the CRPG with Knights of the Old Republic, which to this day is still one of the best RPGs out there. Not to mention Mass Effect and Dragon Age Origins, both of which are excellent franchises, though you guys do seem like you forgot how to write after ME2 hit *cough DA2*. And then you go and make an MMO out of what was your best franchise and manage to retcon whole sections of KOTOR 1 and 2 while simultaneously ruining any chance of a proper sequel. Great job guys, you've alienated the majority of your fanbase already - between Dragon Age 2 and converting your most beloved franchise into a cynical cash grab for the MMO market, most of your original fanbase has moved on. Now you're trying to drive off the few bandwagoners that hopped on with the announcement of (yet another) WoW killer by banning people for "exploiting" freely available containers with no kind of level restrictions whatsoever. Not to mention the fact that giving away items is now a bannable offense (Seriously. It's in their TOS) and all sorts of other ridiculous measures. To quote a certain Stanley Woo, it's the end of the line. Hopefully TOR will knock some sense back into you and get you back to doing what you're good at - producing quality games that don't necessarily "capture a certain market" or "appeal to a larger audience", but tell an excellent story through a solid single-player experience. Then the internet can go back to actually appreciating your games instead of collectively laughing at your heavy-handed attempts at shoring up a failing game that you invested too much of EA's capital in to let fail. /rant
  • mothbanquet - January 4, 2012 10:01 a.m.

    While I disagree with you as far as DA2's writing is concerned (the problem with that game lay more in its complete lack of ambition than anything else), I agree with everything else you've said. As much as I enjoyed ME2, once of the first things I thought when I stepped onto Illium was 'why can't this be Coruscant?'. Then I had a little cry for the KOTOR3 that never would be.
  • MetroidPrimeRib - January 3, 2012 12:47 p.m.

    Banned for talking Banned for exploring Banned for making money Banned for PvPing Banned for looting Banned for playing Only thing you can't be banned for is paying
  • Melam - January 3, 2012 1:56 p.m.

    Fun fact: If you get banned from the game, you are not allowed back into the account options for your account. More specifically, you are not allowed to the page that allows you to change your subscription options. As in, if you get banned from the game, they still keep taking your money.
  • TheZigMan - January 3, 2012 11:20 a.m.

    No matter what they do, it will never match the economy of EVE online. Or the PVP awesomeness
  • Rhaen - January 3, 2012 11:13 a.m.

    As far as I can see it's a question of intent. If someone goes to a high-level area and exploits (circumventing rules) a loop hole, then they're guilty of gaming the system only. So the developers should act to remove the loop hole and the player is not guilty of anything, even if they gain in-game advantage from doing so. It's like creating a super-build class by exploiting a game mechanic or bug. When it's ironed out there's no issue. If, however, someone exploits the system in order to obtain real-world financial returns, then they should be punished through temporary or permanent bans. The advantage of subscription over free-to-play microtransactions is that real world financial advantage does not confer advantage to in-game users. Working within the game to obtain advantage is the point. A gold farmer and someone who buys gold is altering the entertainment value for players. The situation where a new player has end-game equipment and swamps through other players (particularly in PvP) is no fun for others. Bioware hopefully has a way to monitor a player's credits (with just cause) to see where their credits from sales are going - if they are sold then it's pretty cotton dry. That said, I would say that developers have a responsibility to both punish financial exploits and reduce the opportunity, rather than just telling people not to.

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