All MMO communities have issues with players running bots. The artificial farmers have gotten steadily more complex over time and can often be problematic to even recognize with enough certainty to act, much less actually deal with.
Mike is security coordinator for Guild Wars 2, and he has some good news. He has announced that their continuing efforts to combat botting on their servers have achieved noteworthy success.
In the month of November alone he reports that they terminated over 34,000 accounts for operating bots. Even more impressive than the number of people caught is the change in the number of people reported. Catching people for running bots is nice, but the ideal is to get to the point where the bots simply aren’t around to make the game less fun for the players. When Guild Wars 2 launched they were receiving an astonishing 2,000 reports of bot activity every hour. Now? That number is down to just 20 every hour, worldwide.
How do you account for a 99% drop?
Guild Wars 2, on launch, contracted data specialists to help them analyze trends and trackable behavior patterns in bots. That explains how they’re getting so few reports and still catching so many bot-users, since they can catch them before they are reported by having automated software watch for specific patterns of behavior.
They also have the standard report function, allowing them to respond quickly to player vigilance. If the automated programs they have in place have detected the starts of the patterns they watch for it then becomes a very simple process for a member of the actual staff to confirm the findings and move to stop the offending account.
The third way they handle the bot issue is by having a sizable number of their GMs spending their time actually looking for bots directly. As simple as that sounds, it’s one of the more tedious jobs associated with the game, quite literally making them into security guards for the digital economy, but it allows for a third avenue down which a bot can stroll and find itself banned.
It’s heartening to see a game taking one of the genre’s most persistent problems this seriously. Keep an eye out and see if you can give them a hand in-game.