Botting with a Conscience: Why and How I Bot in WoW

The benefits and costs of living on the edge.

In the World of Warcraft and other MMOs, there is a subculture of players looking to enhance their gaming experience.  Tired of the grind or looking for an edge, these like minded players have turned to the world of bots.

The bane of system admins, bots are third party automation programs designed to play some or all of a game automatically.   However, for reasons I'll discuss in this article, bots are frowned upon by many in the gaming community. 

The Official Word on Bots

Before I begin my exploration of the "Shadowy Underworld of Botting," Here is Blizzard's official stance on the practice of using bots in their games.

Automation Programs ("Bots")
We take action against accounts using Automation Programs when one or more characters on the account are identified using a third-party program (or "bot") to provide character automation. Use of these "bots" negatively affects the World of Warcraft game environment, since they allow characters to progress without player control. These "bots" include, but are not limited to, programs that automate combat, movement, and use of gathering professions (such as fishing and mining).

If a player is found to have used such a program, they may:

  • Be temporarily suspended from the game
  • Have further action taken, up to and including account closure, based on the intent of the program

Despite these warnings, some players are willing to take the risk for a variety of reasons.

Reason One for Bots: In-Game Financial Gain

 If you've played World of Warcraft for any length of time, you've probably come across ads similar to this:

"Earn Thousands of Gold per day!  We'll do the work for you!"

Who doesn't want more in game gold?  Gold allows us to purchase armor upgrades, pets, and some of the more rare mounts.  And, like all currency, gold allows us to purchase goods and services from other players so that we don't have to take the time to learn every profession and pattern. 

Reason Two for Bots: Reduction of Repetitive Tasks

Over time, I've come to realize that there are parts of the game that are down right boring.  By boring I mean various tasks take a lot of time to accomplish but produce a small amount of return on that time spent playing the game.  I am referring to, of course, fishing, mining, and gathering.

While these professions and resources are necessary to the game and its economy,  the truth is that, repeated patterns of game play are tedious and invariably taxes a persons sanity. 

As compelling as these two reasons are, there are a few downsides to botting beyond the obvious game suspension.

Bot Barrier: The Cost (in Real Money)

Running a bot "safely" requires extra money on top of your normal monthly game subscription.  Because you work hard on your character, you don't want to jeopardize the loss of your account.  To do this you typically start a second World of Warcraft account that is in no way associated with your main account.  This will cost you an extra $15 per month.

Then there's the cost of the bot itself.  Bot subscription will run anywhere between $10 and $30 per month depending on the service you choose to use.  So your approximate monthly cost to bot is between $40 and $60.  This doesn't include the cost of buying second game license at $80 for all of the current expansions. That's a big investment!

Bot Barrier: In-Game Economy

Not only is there a real world cost, there is also an in-game consequence; the devaluation of the in-game economy.

Indiscriminate auction house practices are the number one complaint of the non-botting community.  These practices mostly come in the form of massive undercutting the current value of an item just to sell it.  Not only do perpetrators of this crime undervalue the market for said item, they insist on flooding the market with these items that are usually 60 to 70 percent less than the closest competitor's price.

This type of undercutting also impacts all of the materials sold on the auction house which are associated with the final product; not just the item being sold.

So where do I stand on this issue?  

I approach World of Warcraft as a hobby and I see no reason why the boring parts of the game should interfere with the more exciting endeavors.  So I choose to bot.  

I really have no desire to gain an advantage over other players.  By making sure I don't flood the Auction House with goods to try and turn a quick profit and by limiting the amount I run the bot so I don't steal resources from other players, I believe I have found a way to bot without impacting the game for other players.  I call it Zero Footprint Botting.

I believe if more of the gamers who choose to bot followed this practice, there would be less animosity towards botters.  Sadly, however, the majority of botters are not of this mindset.  And because of their actions, they have incurred the wrath of the majority of the gaming community. 

If you are going to use bots in World of Warcraft or other MMOs, please be considerate of the other players; use Zero Footprint Botting.

Featured Contributor

I currently live in Colorado with my wife and my son. I help a local pizza shop and drive for Lyft. I remember earning my first NES with my brother by selling news paper subscriptions. It was the first time we worked together on our own. These days,However, most of my gaming is on with the Blizzard stable of games.

Published Jun. 13th 2013
  • krizfawstur
    Lol. These comments are great.
    Botting doesn't negatively effect anyone.

    Bots drive the price of materials down in the game, so you can lvls your profs faster, enchant your gear quicker, etc.

    I can't tell you how many times I've seen people complain about item prices in the AH.
    Look at Nostalrius. The prices for ANYTHING on that server are OUTRAGEOUS. Why? Well 1 because they have a tight control on botters. And 2, they have a high population and slow respawn time.
    Botting would fix their economy issue.

    You can't put yourself ABOVE botting whenever you buy China/Japan child-slave-labor made clothes, cars, equipment.
  • krizfawstur
    And no, buying stuff at cheap prices from companies that employ children at slave rates - is no different.

    It's still exploitation.

    We exploit other people. It's what we do.
  • Nonya_2233
    You are the name of mmo. You're a cheating sack of crap. You account should be permabanned. Or better yet one of your bot companies should steal your account and all the I'll gotten gains you have amassed should be lost.
  • Hostilis_1855
    Nice wall of sanctimonious statements.
  • =w=_7913
    "I also refuse to flood the market with any one item."
    So, ya flood the market with a variety of botted items?

    Hopefully, ya get what ya deserve (if ya haven't already).
  • Alemary
    Featured Contributor
    botting proud and strong, thank you.
  • Snodog
    You should be banned, no matter what you say you do have an advantage over other players.
  • Pissed!
    F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F- F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U
  • Pissed!
    REAL gamer don't use bots!!!!! F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U -U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U
  • Pissed!
    BAN BOTTING IN ALL GAMES!!!!! F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U F-U FU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Clay
    Featured Contributor
    Your two main points, completing repetitive tasks for an in game advantage is okay as long as it doesn't negatively impact the other players is a bit offensive. You are gaining an advantage outside of the parameters everyone else is held to.

    > I believe I have found a way to bot without impacting the game for other players.

    Impossible. If you told me you were vendoring your loot rather than putting it in the AH (regardless of how fair you may feel your prices are) then I can sympathize with this point a little. You are selling stuff on the AH, so you are moving the market price down, that is how markets work.

    I have zero qualms with botters, hate the game not the player, etc. You failed to really put forth a case on why the scale of your actions makes it okay. Good try though!
  • Alemary
    Featured Contributor
    My goal is not to convince people that botting is "okay." I clearly point out that it is against Blizzard's policy. My goal is to get those people who do use bots to do so in a way which minimizes the impact their cheating has on others. I know I have an advantage over others. I simply try not to beat people over the head with it. I go into greater detail in my article Zero Impact Botting. This is a call for self regulation within the botting community.
  • auther_pendragon
    You have 1 point backwards. I have played other games with bad bot problems and they raise the prices rather than lowering them. This is done by making currency and pouring it into the economy faster than the sinks can remove it.

    Bots in the auction for price fixing will buy anything below their set price(anyone undercutting the bot) for re-listing higher than the market value.

    In the end bots devalue the currency to the point of preventing other players from buying anything that isn't sold by an NPC because they can't grind enough gold to buy things with normal game play. Before one game shut down everything in the auction cost near the currency cap.
  • Stephan_4211
    I agree, gold farming is not acceptable. Botting and selling resources or the related products in the AH is not acceptable as it affects the server economy. Botting resource nodes, taking other players away the possibilty to get the node is also inacceptable. It seems, the author also does mining with a bot, taking away resources available to other players. This is not acceptable IMO.

    BUT: However, I do bot in LotRo - but only for farming in a neutral way, nothing else.
    - I use my own seeds bought from the NPC vendor.
    - Everyone can still use the same farmland, it does not affect the other farmers, so I do not take away from common resources.
    - I do not sell any product in the AH, just use them for myself.

    Why do I do that?
    To farm you need to plant (click), then wait for 10s, harvest (click), then wait for 6s and do this over and over again. You stand still in the same place all the time...
    To get the special ingredients for guild crafting recipes you need to plant an average of 330 fields - and you need 15 of them to build a full set of (kind-of low-grade(!) raid armour and jewelry). So you need 14x330x16seconds = 20,5 hours in the average per char - just clicking and waiting, standing still.

    It is so boring! So IMO this kind of botting is just to get around bad game design and leave some time over for fun - questing and raiding - there I get the better armour and jewelry (no way to get this by botting; and you have to play your char well!).

    I do not buy the argument "play a different game, if you do not like grinding"; if botting only is about bypassing really bad game design and not affecting other players. This is the only exception I'd rectify botting for.

    There is still enough other grinding I still do:
    - craft manually to build up reputation for the crafting guilds to get access to the guild recipes
    - to get crafting resources from mining, hides from killing mobs,
    - to get special in-game currencies / barter tokens from doing daily quest.
    All this I do the normal way, even if I could do part of it by botting.

    @SoftMagique: You have a point there. Still, gold farming leads to inflation, stuff gets more expensive in the AH. Mats farming the way I do MAY lead to less purchases from the AH - but only if I'd be willing and could afford to buy that stuff from the AH instead of grinding. Also less buyers would mean a deflation in contrary to an inflation by gold selling.
    I am not willing to buy that stuff from the AH anyway. Why? It is just to expensive, so I cannot buy it. -Why? Because the game design is so bad, that people need to plant and harvest mindlessly for hours to get that item eventually.

    Personally, If i had the time to spend, I'd maybe do the grind instead of botting. But I am a family man with a full-time job and two small children, still I want to play LotRO now an then im my little spare time and also join a raid now and then. I could easily buy gold from gold farmers due to my salary and buy the very best high-end stuff from the AH with that. But I don't, because it is a massive impact on the server economy and unfair. Also, what is it worth to have a perfectly equipped char without being able to play your class? And if you already have the best stuff, there is no motivation to play after all.
    So for me, this is a huge difference to bot the one way and to bot the other way.

    @Ironmanorc: I also wrote my own little script for this. I'd never be willing to give someone else money to buy any bot from anyone.
  • Ironmanorc
    " I have not been banned in my 3 years of botting", Llama commented. You haven't been banned because you haven't been found botting, you haven't been reported multiple times, and warden software didn't catch yours. Generally, I am against botting, I report them, namely mining and herbing, because these are limited resources over an area and a period of time, and I get pissed when I see a rogue flying and landing, herbing and flying again, for hours. The best part is... I bot too ! The difference between your zero foot and my zero foot printing is that YOU BUY your software (don't you?), therefore you give money to bastards that do bot aggressively, and you help improve their shady business. I myself, am an explorer (!) and therefore, I coded my own bot (for fishing and simple scripts), in such an non-intrusive way, that I laugh every time I think about warden and the 100 million usd they make per month, and still can't detect my personal bot since 2006. How much gold do I make every patch ? Not much, a couple of thousand. I don't bot for gold, I bot solely for my sanity and my free time. Oh but others will say to us, "we all do it the legal way, and so you must, or we ban you. You have no honor, no moral, your achievements have no value". Well... I can sleep with that. This is a game from a millionary publisher. Using that logic, you can't download any torrent, listen to any mp3 or avi on your computer. Have you no honor, no moral ?
  • Aidrus
    It's not "your achievements have less value", it's, "MY achievements have less value, because you botted your way to yours." If you can sleep with that, that's fine, but you're still screwing me over, along with everyone else who isn't botting.
  • Soft Magique
    You say that this method would not affect the game..
    Well, IT WOULD.

    Consider the following hypothetical paradigm:

    Let's say there are a total of 100 players on a server playing.
    In this particular server botting is unheard of.
    40 gentlemen are regular farmers and sell on the AH. The rest 60 find that they wouldn't spend their time on farming so instead they have tea parties and poetry nights. So the 40 gents set the prices of their gatherables in the market according to the demand of the rest 60 players and actually make some decent profit.
    Now this fine gentleman joins the server and suggests that the hard but noble times of killing your time to farm and make a profit is over because they can use bots and gather materials effortlessly. Everyone in the community accepts it with great astonishment.
    So now, all 101 players, a little before bed-time, set their bots only to use them moderately and farm mats.
    At the end of the night everyone makes the same amount of mats and places them on the AH.


    Who is gonna buy?


    If you can't see where this is actually going then you haven't thought of your theory very well.
    If everyone can effortlessly make a day's farm then demand drops almost to zero cause there's no one willing to buy something that they can eitherway aquire by spending no time or money.

    Something very few MMO gamers understand is this:

    Farming mats is not free. Farming takes time. And to quote the golden rule of capitalism by Benjamin Franklin: "Time is money"! Period. If you chose to make money by farming you're sacraficing time. Time on which you could do other things. So that's the price those noble farmers pay!
    Botting they way you do IS STILL TAKING ADVANTAGE over those noble farmers(sorry for getting all Marx on you).

    Now if you don't like the notion of farming that's another thing.
    In that case just chose a different game where the idea of farming is being eliminated or reduced. See your options and shop around. It's your time you're spending. ;)
  • Aidrus
    Interesting point of view!

    I have to say that I'm generally against "botting" for the reasons you mentioned above, but if anyone were, felt like, or had to be botting, I would strongly encourage them to use your Zero Footprint method. This is actually a really nice way to mitigate most of the effects of botting on the larger gaming community.

    Two points I want to bring up, however.

    Most of those who bot are gold farmers. Gold farmers would never use this Zero Footprint method because it cuts into their profits. If they weren't worried about profits, they wouldn't be gold farmers. I don't know if there's much you can do about that there.

    Botting in general is a way of playing a game without actually playing it (automation), like you stated in your article. Normally, I'm fine with this or any other type of cheating/modding in a single-player game because... it's a single-player game. It's just you who is affected by what you're doing to the game, and if that results in a better and more enjoyable playing experience for yourself, then that's fine. In any kind of multiplayer game, a game with high scores or any other type of game with a player comparison mechanism (what armor do you have, how much money do you have, what's your rank... etc.), botting or any other type of cheating automatically devalues the experience of any other player who isn't botting. While one person may have spent countless hours working for that armor set or improving those skills even if they really didn't have the time to do so (maybe they could only play for 4 or 5 hours week, for example), another person who bots doesn't have to do that. That person may have shelled out $60/month for the ability to bot those aspects of the game, but another person who wouldn't or couldn't do that is grinding their way to an armor set that has already become less valuable and less noteworthy because a "botter" already got their first. In a multiplayer scenario, botting doesn't stop at cheating the system; it also cheats the players, and that's my biggest problem with it.

    Overall, I have to applaud your effort to reduce the impact of botting, but I also have to raise the point that whenever any type of botting or cheating occurs, it unfairly devalues the gaming experience of anyone who isn't doing the same thing.
  • josh_3315
    I have botted on every mmo I have ever played from asherons call to WoW to rift right now. It makes it so I can enjoy the games without sacrificing my job and family by playing for hours on end just to get enough mats or gold for an item I need to raid with my guild. Or to grind hours in an area to get rep so I can buy the BiS armor. Somethings are best done while I sleeep so when I am at the keys I get to participate in stuff I enjoy
  • Jesse_9678
    This guy is an idiot.
    I came here thinking it was an intelligently written argument, yet I just read a rehash of all the stupid smallminded arguments that I hear from anyone trying to defend bots.
    If you want to play your game without manually preforming all those "boring parts of the game", then don't play the game.
    If you're getting ahead of other people playing the game by using a macro, then you're an asshole.
    There is no Zero Footprint botting.
  • BuzzIrk
    Regardless of your footprint, if its against the rules, its cheating. It's like saying, "I can steal from this store and as long as they aren't affected, its OK." Actually, the statement is better said, "I can steal from this store and as long as > I think < they aren't affected, its OK." Why don't you find a game that you can play and enjoy without cheating? If you can't, that's indication of character flaws, including dishonesty (breaking the EULA you agreed to follow), selfishness and laziness.
  • Mike_2646
    I got to say, I've used bots on and off and mostly for gathering stuff like mine nodes or gathering plants for my alchemy. Never hurt anyone. If you wanna call me a scrub because I'd rather play and have fun then mindlessly grinding away at something I have done 10x over on other characters. Go for it. :)
  • Scraze_6231
    No, I don't buy it. You are the guy who lands in front of me when I climbing a hill to mine. And proceeds to mine out an area or take the herbs. I don't believe you can be zero footprint.
    But more importantly, why do you need it? Why not skip gathering? You don't want to put in the time, don't do it. I am not rich either in Wow, and it would make it easier but it is a game. And you can get what you need other ways, like questing and dungeons and so on. You have are trying to rationalize why you should be able to break the rules, but instead you need to think about integrity that is beyond a game and let buying hot shot mounts go to others who put in the effort. I can't see why you need to do it at all.
  • lance_8625
    scrubs use bots
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