ArenaNet Begins Banning RMT Activities in Guild Wars 2

By Frank Lewis,
The Guild Wars 2 developer has purged hundreds of bots and spammers related to real-money trading (RMT), even as it hurries to solve widespread hacking attempts and system bugs that are plaguing its newly launched game.

"In the past 24 hours we permanently banned 292 accounts for RMT-related botting and spamming," reported ArenaNet in its latest Guild Wars 2 status update on September 2, which was reposted on Reddit. This comes three days after it suspended accounts of 750 players running bots last August 31 as part of its crusade against botting.

ArenaNet now has a firm perma-ban policy against accounts who actively engage in botting, whether it is for RMT or for speeding up progress in the game.

As late as August 29, ArenaNet was still handing out 72-hours temporary bans for "casual, unsophisticated botting" as a lighter punishment instead of permanent bans. The September 2 bans signal though that the ArenaNet will no longer care to distinguish between casual and hardcore botters - anyone and everyone caught running a bot program will be slammed with account termination.

Guild Wars 2 players might scoff at the 292 bans, believing that ArenaNet could do better. The company though has its hands full at the moment dealing with a wide range of issues, the most pressing of which are hacking attempts on player accounts.

ArenaNet said that hackers are using stolen information from other websites and databases, particularly e-mail addresses that players may be using as well for their Guild Wars 2 account, and are now trying to force-guess the passwords.

Developers are also in the process of dealing with fallout of their extensive bans against exploiters who have taken advantage of a vendor pricing glitch that allowed players to purchase weapons for cheap and sell them seconds later at for easy GW2 Gold profit.

Undoubtedly, some of these exploiters will have sold their Gold hauls to third-party RMT shops, which are now peddling the virtual currency at a median industry rate of $9.11 per 2 GW2 Gold as of September 3.

3,000 accounts were banned on August 30 after players "substantially exploited" this Gold-making glitch, causing an uproar among the community. Critics say the bans are a harsh penalty, which seem to have resonated with ArenaNet as the developer softened its stance, allowing banned exploiters to discard their purchases and bear through a 72-hour suspension as a substitute punishment for a perma-ban.

The lighter punishment also came after some detractors complained that exploiters seem to be getting the short end of the stick compared to botters.

"Wait wait wait, so actual BOTTERS are only getting a 72 hour suspension, but EXPLOITERS are getting perma banned. I really think you need to change this up at least keep it consistent here," said a flabbergasted Reddit user TheSmushRoombefore ArenaNet toughened up its botter policy to an outright perma-ban.

"It's a matter of degree. RMT botters are gone. Less-active botters are shown some level of mercy with a suspension. And of course exploiters are in the same situation -- only those who really did it a lot experienced an account termination," replied the ArenaNet Support Team.

We expect more bans - for botters, spammers and exploiters - in the coming weeks as ArenaNet refines its methods for tracking the said offenders.

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