Content of the article: "Bots – We agree they’re bad, but they have a market…and that’s troubling"
Seems like every MMORPG that is semi popular has this topic brought up once a week. Major issue with botting, seeing them in game, etc. The players demand something be done and/or nothing is being done. If it gets enough attention, the gaming companies will come out and say they're addressing them/please report them so they can be dealt with/they're banning many a day. Things like that. It seems to repeat at least once a month (sometimes a lot more common) for games.
But something I don't see addressed too much is…why do they exist? How do they stay in business. Many bots are tied to one entity. Which means that the investment cost of a bot can be quite a lot. Not only just for the software, but you may end up having a buy in price (cost of game). Then, depending on the game, you'll have subscription costs. If we assume companies are telling the truth and they're banning a large basket of bots a day…then the daily costs can be a decent amount.
The thing that really troubles me is…the cost. These things are pretty cheap. I'm not supporting their behavior or saying go out and do it, I'm pointing this out because if you tie it in with the buy in costs it is pretty troubling. If they're willing to sell things so cheaply, then it usually means that either the supply is way too large OR they're selling things so fast that they can easily make demand, even with the buy in costs.
Now something I have noticed is that the more "grind" that is required in a game, typically the large presence of botting/ToS breaking behavior there is. For example, lets take a look at WoW (including Classic) compared to a game like Gw2. Gw2 has bots, but they're nowhere near as common as in WoW. There is a few things. One, there isn't a whole lot to grind in Gw2 that can be easily done via botting. The only market is really gold, even then gold isn't as "required" to play the game compared to WoW. Especially Classic WoW. So in short, grind usually means effort required to progress, and effort required to progress means a profit can be made.
While this is anecdotal evidence, so it isn't foulproof; I have noticed a lot in these high effort required games that people will freely admit to cheating (botting, buying things for real money off third party sites, etc). It is usually done out of game (discords, guild forums, etc). Just to make it difficult for them to get banned for admitting it. Take classic WoW, since that is the MMORPG I've mainly been playing for the past couple of months. I've met a lot of people who have bought characters. They bought someone who would probably take 4-6 months of hardcore play for a few hundred. I've met people who routinely bot in PvP to do the rank grind. People who bot to grind gold or farm. People who bot purely to level. Some will claim that if it wasn't for their "herb bots", things like a black lotus would be way more expensive then it is (which I don't agree with, but that's a post for another day).
So to me, this is a topic I'd like to see discussed a bit. That is recognizing that there is apparently a significant portion of players for some of these mmorpgs taking advantage of these services, which is helping them keep in business. So yes, more banning from the companies themselves will help reduce bots. But we should also try to find a way to make these services less appealing to players. It would be hard to change that culture, so the next sacrifice would have to be community focus. Should gear progression be more tied to players. Less reliance on currency (i.e GW2) that can be traded?
I honestly don't have an answer. This is just an angle I've been thinking of lately that I haven't seen brought up too frequently.
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