I hate writing articles on bans related to exploits, they just serve to confuse players and just those who found some interest in the article. Terms like “mass ban” and “widely exploited” are thrown around when the actual numbers of how many people were using the exploit, and consequently how many were banned for it, is much less impressive than the terminology surrounding the announcement. So let’s dive in and try to not confuse those of us who haven’t been playing Guild Wars 2 recently. I’m going to try to explain this the best I can, but don’t take the description of events below as 100% accurate. Ultimately all you need to know is what is quoted by Arenanet.
Wintersday is the event Arenanet holds in place of Christmas, and just like its real life counterpart, we can’t get through the holidays without someone getting stabbed (unless that’s just my family). According to what I’ve seen in news reports and from players, an exploit surfaced early on in the event which allowed players to use snowflakes from the event to convert several absurdly cheap items along with a black lion salvage kit, to generate endless amounts of ectoplasm, which is used in creating many of the high-level items. The exploit was closed and when Arenanet came back from holiday vacation, the team set off banning the worst of the offenders.
As I’ve already said, less than 200 were banned according to Arenanet. According to the North American Community Team Lead Regina Buenaobra, the banned players knew exactly what they were doing:
The number of accounts terminated as a result of this exploitative activity is actually very small—fewer than 200. However, these people are the very worst offenders, and engaged in this exploit to egregious levels—hundreds and even thousands of times. They knew exactly what they were doing and they knew that their activities would damage the economy.
Gaile Grey, Arenanet Support Liason, posted to explain why the exploit should have been obvious to anyone making use of it:
Any time you take one thing and can make two, and then four, and then sixteen… ya gotta know that’s just wrong. (I won’t quibble on the odds, but overall, that form of doubling was not outside the realm of possibility.) And to perform that action hundreds and hundreds of times? That’s call “exploitation,” and that’s against the User Agreement, the Rules of Conduct, and all that is holy.