MMOments: One Man’s Ban Is Another Man’s Treasure

scaperune3

Playing 07Scape, I stumbled across a rather ingenious way to level up fletching (bowmaking) by buying logs from the general store, turning them into unfinished bows, and selling them back. You see, the genius of this plan is that the logs sell for less than the store will buy the unfinished bows. A paltry profit of four coins per bow, but it does mean that I can sit there and gain experience while sacrificing nothing in the process, so long as I can find a world where bots players are selling logs to the store. I joked over Twitter that I’d probably get banned if I were in, say, Guild Wars 2.

And then reality struck: There are actually games that would ban me for doing this. Whenever an mmo issues a mass ban for players finding a way to make money by playing NPC shop prices, I receive emails from other gamers asking how you could possibly think that such an action was within the rules. The answer is pretty simple: It is, at least elsewhere.

If an MMO doesn’t want players to be able to utilize shops in such a manner, that’s fine. That said, it doesn’t seem appropriate at all to ban players on the first offense with an attitude that they should have known all along that what they were doing wasn’t kosher. Instead of reaching for the banhammer, simply send the player a warning. Remove the profits they made, why not.

Such an activity isn’t as obvious as, say, using bot accounts or cheats. The topic of making a profit by buying from one NPC and selling to another is rarely mentioned in a game’s terms of service, instead it is hidden in the “don’t exploit stuff” clause. It isn’t as obvious to the player as the developer often thinks it is.

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