The Ongoing Struggles Between Online Publishers and Bots

Let's face it, they are never going to go away.

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The Ongoing Struggles Between Online Publishers and Bots

We are going to reveal a few secrets in the industry that will straight out say this fact. Bots will probably always be around in online games, and companies will probably not take action to remove them. We shall explain why later, but let us discuss what bots are.

Bots are software that automates gameplay. This can range from grinding in a MMORPG, to automatically playing cards for you in Heartstone, to using auto aim in CS:Go, to simple things as using macros to press buttons in Maple Story. They have existed together with the beginning of MMOs, and the practice of making bot software still exists to this very day.

The usage of bots has become so mainstream that everyone knows about their existence. There are even Chinese companies whom set up dozens of computers in a building, all running the same bot software and game in order to farm in game gold to sell. With the selling of gold making the in game economy unbalanced, it doesn't take long before there are well deserved outcry from the player base and policies are then set in place to ban players whom use bots. However, this policy is rarely enforced. We can see proof of that easily. Just head over to google and type (game name) gold seller, and you'll see dozens of sites offering to sell in game currency for real world currency. 

With so much controversy surrounding this, we have to ask ourselves, are there any reasons why there isn't a proper measure to ban all bots? Surely technology has advanced enough to allow us to auto detect these illegal players and ban them? The answer, I'm afraid, is a complex one.

Firstly, some publishers are able to detect bots, but will not ban them because the number of bots in the game help increase the number of 'concurrent players'. They can use this number to promote how active the game is or how successful it is currently doing. When the monthly and yearly end report rolls around, these numbers become all the more important. It's even worse for an online game that has been running for a long time. Should all bots be banned, there will be a drastic decrease in the 'concurrent players', and since people who use bots are often willing to purchase cash content, there will be a drastic decrease in 'sales'.

Secondly, there is a fear of triggering false positives, which means that proper players are being identified as bots and banned. This leads to a fear of actual botters pretending to be proper players, and taking the cause to small court. Since it is illegal to monitor a player's PC, there is little to no evidence of a player using a bot, and there is a real fear on the publisher's side that it will lose the case. MapleStorySea goes as far as to implement a 14 day ban before a permanent ban in order to discourage players from using bots.

Thirdly, bots will continue to exists because of demand. There are players out there with a lot of cash, but little time, and they will turn to the most convenient way to obtain the best equipment or gold in game. Only bot farmers, with over 2000 characters farming 18 hours per day are able to provide the gold and have enough resources to provide the best equipment cheaply to these customers.

These three points above may not seem like a lot, but they are the reasons why bots exist and will continue to exists. Some may say that bots are a necessary evil and help drive an in game economy, but they could never refute the fact that economies are regulated by the publishers and the inclusion of bots means the publisher are not able to regulate the economy anymore.

The true reason why bots exists, however, is in the end, the importance and impact of having bots in a game is non existent. Gamers may complain about it, but they will still play games that have bots in them. The rich doesn't mind spending hundreds of thousands yearly in order to remain top in the rankings. Winning is the goal for these people, and the journey is unrelated to that goal. 

There will probably never be a day when gamers unite and stand up against their favorite activity. And that is the true reason why bots will remain a part of online gaming.

Players used to be able to take refuge from broken economies and unfair advantages in pay to play online games, but with the incoming crisis of loot boxes, the future of online gaming looks bleak. 



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